Archive for ‘Student Spotlight’

Graduating Senior Katherine Handy Heads to Texas Tech Law School

0 Commentsby   |  04.29.12  |  Student Spotlight

Katherine Handy has been extremely involved across ACU’s campus during her time here. She served the Students’ Association as senator for both her freshman and sophomore years and is presently the Executive Secretary. She has participated in Freshman Follies and Sing Song, and she is a member of the women’s social club Sigma Theta Chi. Katherine is presently serving as the treasurer for the English national honor society, Sigma Tau Delta.

This fall, Katherine will be attending Texas Tech Law School. Tech has recognized Katherine as an outstanding student, and she has been awarded the Presidential Scholarship, a renewable scholarship awarded only to entering first-year law students.

Katherine was focused on working in the legal field even before she came to ACU: she has completed internships with the Collin County Teen Court Program; Collin County Justice of the Peace, John E. Payton; the Collin County District Attorney’s Office; and ACU’s Legal Services Office.
This past weekend Katherine traveled to Lubbock to accept the scholarship and begin making connections on campus.

Congratulations, Katherine!

Away She Goes! Senior Kaleigh Wyrick Heads to TCU

4 Commentsby   |  04.19.12  |  Student Spotlight

Kaleigh Wyrick has been an integral part of English during her time as a student at ACU. Her academic abilities were recognized with the Culp Scholarship and the University Scholar Award. She was treasurer for Alpha Chi, the national honor society, and secretary for Sigma Tau Delta, the national English honor society. Kaliegh’s research enabled her to present at both of ACU’s Undergraduate Research Festivals and the national and regional Alpha Chi conferences.

After graduation in May, Kaleigh will be attending TCU. Kaleigh was accepted straight into the English PhD program. She also has received a graduate assistantship that will not only cover her tuition, but also give her a generous stipend to live on.

The assistantship Kaleigh received will enable her to teach an introductory course with various professors from different disciplines each semester, thus giving her a wide range of pedagogical approaches from which to create her own. In addition, she will have administrative duties related to the class, which will give her experience dealing with the program director and the dean.

At the departmental meet-and-greet on March 30 and 31, Kaleigh had the opportunity to interact with multiple faculty members from her new department, as well as to begin getting to know her PhD cohort.

Congratulations, Kaleigh!

As Big as Texas: More Student Wins

0 Commentsby   |  08.31.11  |  Announcements, Creative Writing

Image from

News of the best variety arrived in Writer in Residence Al Haley’s email in-box last week.

It was notification that two students he had nominated earlier in the summer had placed in their respective genres in the student writing contest sponsored by the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers (TACWT). Not second or third, but…

First place.

Tanner Hadfield in fiction.

Bethany Bradshaw in poetry.

This follows on the heels of ACU student wins in the annual Christianity and Literature Student Writing Contest (see post).

First place winners of the TACWT contest receive $100 and an invitation to read their work at TACWT’s annual meeting which this year will be held in Austin, Sept. 23-24.

“This is a wonderful result,” Prof. Haley said. “In TACWT we’re competing with schools that have established MFA and MA programs in creative writing like the University of Houston and Texas Tech.

“Often their undergraduates have worked with the graduate faculty who are numerous and many of whom are much published writers themselves. So for a school like ACU to come along and win two out of three first places makes a kind of statement about the caliber of our classes, teachers, and students.”

Tanner Hadfield’s story, “Snowing in Darling,” is a magic-realism sort of tale that he wrote in Prof. Heidi Nobles Fiction Workshop last fall. Tanner got the news at the University Colorado where he had just begun his first semester as an MFA student.

He wrote back that already he’s taught his first class of undergrads as a graduate teaching assistant, is  working on a novella, staring up an art-zine, judging a poetry contest for Subito Press, and tutoring. And, oh, yes he’s taking classes.

Out on the East Coast the news about her poetry win found Bethany Bradshaw beginning her first semester of classes as an MA student in literature at the University of North Carolina in Raleigh. In her email response she expressed excitement over the outcome and noted, “I am sitting with my books and coffee watching the rain soak our yard full of trees (not to gloat or anything). So yes, I am loving Raleigh.”

Prof. Haley concluded, “Combined with the student work  that place earlier this year in the Christianity and Literature contest, these results show that we have a very good thing going with creative writing at ACU. I encourage any student, regardless of his or her major, to take one of our three workshops. There’s something offered every semester and it’s a chance to meet the challenge to do quality work. And I think that’s what a lot of our students are really looking for. A serious challenge.”

For anyone interested, Eng. 320: Creative Nonfiction Workshop is offered in the Spring; Eng. 322: Fiction Workshop and Eng. 323: Poetry Workshop meet in the Fall.



Two Students Score in Writing Contest

0 Commentsby   |  08.25.11  |  Creative Writing

For more than a decade ACU students have had a reputation for making their mark in the annual Christianity and Literature Student Writing Contest. This year is no exception as we learned from results announced over the summer.

Paige Wallner and Jordan Havens won second and third place respectively in the nonfiction category of the contest, competing against students from colleges and universities around the country.

Their work was chosen to be honored by this year’s judge, Prof. Debra Rienstra of Calvin College’s English Department. As a prize, Paige and Jordan will receive their choice of books from Word Farm Press and a year’s subscription to the respected journal of the arts and faith, Image.

Paige’s piece, “Michigan: A Family Vacation Rerun,” is an energetic, laugh-out-loud and nostalgic look at how her family has vacationed in the same place every year and every year family members exhibit the same eccentricities. Paige is a Junior Interdisciplinary Studies Major from Arlington Heights, Illinois.

When You Walk Through Garden” by Jordan takes another approach using eloquent, poetic prose. The writer relives a mission trip to L.A. when he was full of naive idealism about his faith and how he could save people. Instead of saving anyone, he gets tripped up by his own hubris, the rough edges of his fellow Christians, and a romantic infatuation with a co-worker. Jordan is a senior English major from Lubbock. Last year he spent a semester at the L.A. Film Studies Center in Hollywood.

Both Paige and Jordan wrote their pieces in Eng. 320: Creative Nonfiction which is taught every spring by writer in residence Al Haley.

Complete results of the CCL contest can be found at the CCL website. You can also read there the full text of Jordan and Paige’s pieces as well as some of the other contest winners.

Prof. Haley notes that this was the first year that the contest opened a new category besides the usual fiction, nonfiction, and poetry entries. There are now awards given for best essay. He encourages students and their professors to begin thinking about what traditional (i.e., nonnarrative) papers on literature or other topics they might write and submit to the contest by the March 1, 2012 deadline.

Alumnus Update: Kris Heiderich, Teaching in Uganda

0 Commentsby   |  07.26.11  |  Student Spotlight

Kris Heiderich grew up in Brazil, where his parents have been missionaries for thirty years. Attending international schools K-12 (with one disorienting year in the U.S. during the 8th grade), Kris learned to love education, travel, and diverse community—but he didn’t know how those things would continue to play out in his own life.

"We are all kind of in the same boat, and we have an easy time communicating," says Kris of himself and his students at Heritage.

ACU was fortunate to be Kris’s home for college. He enrolled in 2006, and he says the school was an easy place to transition and find a sense of home. After his first year, he realized he wanted to join the English department, crediting his choice to the top-tier faculty and his lifelong passion for language arts.

While building his expertise in writing and literature, Kris also joined the education department to earn his teaching certification. By the time he graduated in May 2010, he was poised to take the world by storm as a dedicated and well-rounded teacher, following the example of his own teachers in Brazil.

“Once I graduated from ACU, I sent out my resume to schools around the world and also in Texas,” Kris says. But with high levels of uncertainty surrounding employment for Texas teachers, “I began to pray for direction about starting off my career abroad. In the last few weeks of summer, I received an email from Heritage International School in Kampala, Uganda. Two weeks later, I was starting my first day of school in Uganda!

“I am thankful to the ACU English department for how much they prepared me for the real world. The faculty is not only bright, but also very sincere in their approach to education. Not many other people I know left their undergraduate program knowing they had life-long mentors available to them back at college, but at ACU, I feel that I have support even now as I trek around Eastern Africa.”

At Heritage International School, about fifty percent of Kris’s students are Ugandan and the rest are international. “It feels great,” he reports. “We are all kind of in the same boat, and we have an easy time communicating.” Kris is returning to Heritage for his second year of teaching this fall. We look forward to hearing more updates soon.

The Republic of Uganda's National Flag

*We always love to hear from our graduates! If you have an update for us and your ACU English peers, drop us an email, and we’ll post details to the blog. For the next few months, you can email those details to Heidi Nobles at (And in the future, you can email those to our administrative coordinator, just as soon as that person joins us!)

Congratulations to our 2011 University Scholars

0 Commentsby   |  06.01.11  |  Student Spotlight

On April 14, four English majors were honored as University Scholars in a special ceremony in the Chapel on the Hill.

Bethany Bradshaw, Sara Morris, Katherine Sinclair, and Kaleigh Wyrick were selected for this competitive honor which recognizes soon-to-graduate students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher who “excel in scholarly activity appropriate to their discipline.” Students are nominated by faculty within their departments.

This year’s English honorees provide a glimpse into the varied fertile explorations ACU English majors are making and how they are producing work worthy of the attention of others.

Prof. Al Haley, who nominated Bethany Bradshaw, lauded her ambition and drive which led her to further her experience of creative writing in a highly practical fashion; in the summer of 2010 Bethany went to New York City and knocked on doors until she found an internship at the Bent Agency.

After a summer of reading through the slush pile, meeting writer clients, and attending readings, Bethany returned to ACU where she was co-editor of The Shinnery Review and planned on-campus writing workshops and readings. She also took Prof. Haley’s Eng. 323: Poetry Workshop where she proved herself to be such a stellar poet that by the end of the semester she had had two poems accepted for publication in an international undergraduate literary magazine.

This fall Bethany will be attending the North Carolina State where she will begin work on a Master’s in literature.

Sara Morris was nominated by Dr. Shelly Sanders who emphasized Sara’s exceptional work in writing short stories. At the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor’s writing festival last February, Sara read “Losing Eden, Gaining Eve,” a quasi-feminist science fiction story about scientists who create a female android without realizing what they’re getting into. Sara reprised her story to much acclaim at the ACU Undergraduate Research Festival in March.

Sara, who graduated in May, has a job working in film art direction in Hollywood.

Prof. Sanders also nominated Katherine Sinclair, singling out a paper written as part of an Honors contract, “That Not My Wife”: Paranoia in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers Films.” In Dr. Sanders’ words Katherine’s paper “demonstrates her ability to bridge disparate fields of knowledge and produce insightful, cohesive analysis.” The paper, which was presented at the ACU Undergraduate Research Festival, analyzed the Body Snatcher films and the societies and times in which they were made, exploring the various ways in which the aliens infiltrate the planet highlight the most prominent paranoia of each film’s decade.” Katherine’s paper was nominated by the Honors College to be in the running for the Boe Award at the GPHC.

Upon graduation Katherine began work at Milsoft in Abilene as a technical writer.

The English Department’s final scholar, Kaleigh Wyrick, was nominated by Dr. Nancy Shankle who noted how Kayleigh’s love of learning is manifested by her having three minors: Spanish, Women’s & Ethnic Studies, and Bible, Missions, and Ministry.

Prof. Shankle particularly appreciated how Kaleigh went beyond class requirements. She noted that in Linguistics, “Kaleigh not only made the highest score on every exam, but she explored far beyond the exam topics, often sharing articles or readings she found.  For example, in a unit on dialects in American English, Kaleigh found a news article that described a dialect coach who teaches British actors to speak with American accents.” 

Kaleigh has twice participated in the ACU Undergraduate Research Festival. This year her paper “Mothers, Daughters, and Matrophobia in American Literature,” explored the way Nathaniel Hawthorne and Kate Chopin used the expected mother-daughter relationship of the 19th century in their novels to promote feminist ideas about womanhood. Comparing these 19th century novels to two feminist books from 2004, Kaleigh looked at the cultural views of motherhood in that century and those of today, showing how the mother-daughter relationship still has a powerful effect on women.

An Evening of Mystique with Prof. Haley

0 Commentsby   |  04.06.11  |  Announcements, Creative Writing

On Thursday, April 14, from 7 p.m. – 8:15 p.m. we will be having a literary gathering during which our writer in residence, Prof. Al Haley, will share some of what he has been writing the past three years while serving as the James W. Culp Distinguished Professor of English.

We will meet in the “old” Brown Library auditorium (now the Core Classroom).  For your entertainment and emotional/physical sustenance there will be:

  • Student jazz quintet
  • Guest appearance of the doppleganger of a best-selling author
  • Two students reading their published poems
  • Guest appearance of an English faculty member in disguise
  • Reading from Prof. Haley’s novel-in-progress
  • Door prize with a retail value of more than $50!
  • Coffee and cookies

We hope, schedule permitting, you can come to this event.

P.S. Why is this being called an “Evening of Mystique”?  Prof. Haley says, “It’s because I seem to have written a novel about suburban Christians who encounter ‘signs and wonders.’ As you might imagine, these episodes are quite perplexing.  It’s not ‘magic,’ but does it amount to bonafide ‘miracles’?  At this point we’re just going to refer to it as ‘mystique’…  “ 

ACU English Poets Break Into Print

0 Commentsby   |  01.24.11  |  Student Spotlight

Two of our English majors have had poems they wrote in last fall’s English 323: Poetry Workshop accepted for publication in in two different literary journals.

Juliana at Oxford's University Church of St. Mary the Virgin

A new print journal, Fjords, has accepted for publication in its inaugural issue “weeping willow” and “Highway 285” by Juliana KocsisFjords has solicited poetry from around the country and plans to nominate its very best poems for the annual Pushcart Prize.

Juliana says the composition of “weeping willow” came about when “I had been out running one day, ran by a willow tree, and immediately thought of what became the first stanza–it just seems appropriate/ sitting beneath you/ to weep. The rest of the poem developed on its own and turned out to be one of the easiest poems I’ve written (and one of my favorites).”

As for her “Highway 285” poem, Juliana developed the idea after driving  just outside of Salida, Colorado, past spectacular mountain landscapes. She notes that, “Having grown up in Colorado, I absolutely love it and have always just been amazed by some of the scenery, so I wanted to write a poem that captured that.”

It was a productive semester for Juliana because she just learned that Sphere Literary Magazine: An International Journal of Student Writing will be publishing another of her poems, “Liturgy, as witnessed by a statue of Mary.” Sphere is an on-line journal edited by students at Farleigh Dickinson University. Twice a year they publish undergraduate writing from around the globe.

Juliana wrote her Sphere poem after reading a news item about the bombing of a church in Baghdad back in November. She characterizes the poem as “a sort of lament” over the tragedy and a call for peace and religious tolerance.

Juliana is currently a junior English major and plans to graduate in May 2012. What she’ll do immediately following that momentous occasion is still a bit speculative, but she wouldn’t be surprised to find herself in graduate school working on an M.A. and thinking about maybe teaching postsecondary school. She’s also considering teaching ESL abroad for a year or two.

Bethany banging out the words...old school style

The other student who has had poems accepted for publication is Bethany Bradshaw. Her poems “Aubade” and “You Asked Me What It Means” will appear in Sphere.

Bethany, who is serving as one of the co-editors of the student literary magazine, The Shinnery Review  this year, will graduate in May. She is waiting for acceptance/rejection letters from MA programs in English Lit. “to decide my fate.”

As the teacher of both of these young poets last fall, Prof. Al Haley was contacted for this article. He wished to contribute the following:

“I’m thrilled at how people are going to get read some of the fine poems Juliana and Bethany wrote in our class. At the same time, I’m not that surprised that their work was accepted. Besides evidencing keen imaginations as they looked for situations ripe for poetry and having a sharp ear for the sound of words, they worked themselves to the bone revising all their poems. The highest compliment I can pay any poet I offer to them: I read these poems and wished they were mine.”

As a final comment Prof. Haley suggest that anyone consider signing up for Poetry Workshop. He observes, “Everyone has something to say about life, and poetry is one of the best ways to do it. It’s a demanding but rewarding craft that anyone can learn. And from our annual poetry slam to workshopping our poems in the relaxed atmosphere of The Inkwell, we have so much fun in this class it could almost be illegal.”

Junior Major to Have Essay Published in Collection

0 Commentsby   |  01.12.11  |  Student Spotlight

There are many aspects to being a writer, and junior English major Natasha Fowler is experienced enough to relate to most of them first-hand.

Natasha last summer in Israel

Writing begins with getting one’s ideas down on paper. Then there’s the need to show your work to others and get valuable feedback for revision,  a process that can be helped along by taking a creative writing workshop.

A veteran of Creative Nonfiction Workshop and Poetry Workshop, Natasha knows all of the above and also the third thing. There comes a time when you have to have the courage to submit your work, even if it means facing rejection.

But Natasha wasn’t rejected.

Her essay, which she wrote last fall in response to a flier asking for submissions, has just been accepted for publication in the latest installment of Student to Student. This paperback volume collects short devotional essays (350-450 words) from Christian college students around the country. Many of the essays deal with common experiences college students face as they try to live a godly life. According to the editors, the series is designed to encourage students “by offering them practical advice, spiritual insight and a sense that many students face similar struggles.”

Natasha describes her contribution as follows:

“It’s about a friendship that has been one of the biggest challenges and blessings in my life during my college experience. My desire for what I wrote is for other students to see each other with eyes wide open to all possibilities of what God has in store for even the hardest friendship!”

Student to Student is a project of Professors Paul Buchanan and Paula Miller at Biola University. The first Student to Student volume was published in 2008 and featured 60 student essayists.

Prof. Al Haley knows of at least one other ACU student whom he worked with who has appeared in the previous incarnation of this publication.

“There’s a lesson to be learned here,” Professor Haley says. “It’s that if you devote time to your writing, make use of the resources on campus, including your professors, to polish your words, then send your manuscript out, you have a real chance of getting published.”

And what’s the next step? Natasha, who is getting married this May, sees her future this way:

“I love writing short stories and novels and so will continue stubbornly trying to get them published. I also hope to work for a publishing company, preferably linked to a ministry of some kind like the International House of Prayer in Kansas City or Morning Star Ministries in North Carolina.

She concludes, “My future husband, Phil Dosa, and I both have a passion for the church, missions and Israel and look forward to seeing where the Lord takes us in that direction.”

Rangers game photos

0 Commentsby   |  04.30.10  |  Field Trips, Graduate, Student Spotlight

The Texas Rangers narrowly beat the Chicago White Sox 6-5 on Wednesday, thanks in part to Hamilton’s homer in the first inning. Other notable highlights included Dr. Bill Carroll’s triumph in the Dollar Hot Dog Eating Contest, totalling out at an impressive 7 for the evening, and the free Venom “Death Adder” energy drink after the game. Joining him in the mayhem were Dr. Shelly Sanders and Nathan Sanders, MA students Grant Perkins and Todd Womble, and undergraduate majors Lydia Melby, Bethany Bradshaw and David McMichael.