Family and faculty came together Friday to honor English students published in Wings and New Voices at the USU Grand Salon.
“Learning how to write and write well is essential to your future,” President Jolene Koester said at the introduction of the ceremony.
Ranging from personal memoirs to current events, New Voices and Wings contain writings by 58 students and is meant to serve as an example to incoming students of university-level writing.
New Voices, a volume of essays from students in the English department’s developmental-writing courses, honored 33 students. Wings, a collection of student writings from the English 155 curriculum, honored 25.
Nearly every seat was filled by a cheering audience who applauded throughout the commencement.
Following Koester’s opening statement, various professors from the College of Humanities department spoke to the audience, focusing on the challenges of writing.
“Writing is hard,” said Dr. Pamela Bourgeois, English professor. “When we think of writing, most of us think of grouchy English teachers and red pen markings with indecipherable messages all over our papers.”
Overcoming challenges was even the topic for some published stories. Readings from selected passages shed light on the trials and tribulations from those who had language barriers or learning disadvantages as children. Others alluded simply to the dislike of English or preferred studies elsewhere, but were forced to take the required undergraduate class where they soon discovered a knack for writing.
“I have a 5-month-old daughter, and when I first started this class, I was working a lot of hours,” said freshman Terry Telphy, 19, who admitted that he almost didn’t finish his freshman English class. “But then I realized that my education is more important right now, and in the long run for my daughter. She is my inspiration.”
Each of the students was honored by name and awarded a copy of the book in which they were published. About half were brought back on stage for honorary mentions.
At the end of the ceremony, student honorees were invited to speak openly on behalf of their achievement. Seven students accepted the invitation to share their gratitude for those who supported them most.
“I want to thank a professor of mine who is not here, Professor Blumenkrantz,” said Kimberly Limon, 19, English major. “He was my fourth- and fifth-grade teacher, and is now my professor for visual communications (at CSUN). He is the reason I wanted to become a teacher, by watching how he interacts with students.”