2020 English Graduates & Undergraduate Award Winners

2020 IUP English Department
Year-End Celebration Page

Welcome to the 2020 IUP English Year-End Celebration Page!

On this page you will find the names of all 2020 graduates from IUP English programs, as well as the winners of this year’s Literature & Criticism Outstanding Graduate Student awards, undergraduate awards for English majors—including writing awards and English undergraduate scholarships.

The awards information will also be published on the English Department web site; however, we wanted to share it here, too, so those who wish to add their congratulations in the comment section at the bottom of this page may do so.

Thank you for joining us in celebrating our remarkable English graduates and undergraduate award winners!

Address to Graduates:
Dr. Gian Pagnucci, English Department Chair

video transcript

BSEd Valedictory Address:
Ms. Karen A. Mack

video transcript

BA English Valedictory Address: 
Ms. Margaret Olin
(text only: click here for PDF)

Degree Recipients – All English Programs

Ph.D. in Literature and Criticism

Asmaa Alshehri
Tariq Al Soud
Beshaier Alqahtani
Christopher Burlingame
Peter Faziani
Amy George
Kelly Hamren
Jill Hummel
Jemayne King
Matthew Loudon
Carl Sell
Andrew Smith
Rodney Taylor
Kristi Williams

Ph.D. in Composition & Applied Linguistics (CAL)

Said Rashid Al Harthy
Nawal Ibrahim Alhodithi
Janet Anoyke
Darius Montriece Cureton
Melanie Gagich
John Grant
Mousa O. Hasan
Brittany Hull
Daniel Krack
Anthony Paul Schiera
Silvia Vaccino-Salvadore
Marie Theresa Webb
Mohamed Ahmed Taha
Abdelhalim Yacoub


Sayed Ali Reza Ahmadi
Muhammad Qasem Jami
Dennis Miranda

M.A. in Literature

Julie Babal
Ishaaq Muhammed
Yahia Tahat
Sequoia Van Camp
MA in Composition and Literature
Margaret Buterbaugh
Shelbe Ferry
Anthony Frontino
Alyssa Long
Jesse Rice
Jennifer Russell
Emily Shook
Kelly Stewart

English 7-12 Teaching Certificate

Anthony Frontino
Margaret Buterbaugh
John (Jack) Murphy

Undergraduate Degrees 

Bachelor of Arts, English

Aaesha Alsaqer
Jacob E. Breslawski
Tea Naykl Capps
Sydney Sierra Elslager
Marissa Catherine Greenblatt
Taylor Jean Kianka
Austin Anthony Marsico
Hannah Grace McCracken
Quinn Joseph Milligan
Tana-Shay Oneaka Newton
Halimah O’Daniel
Margaret Catherine Olin
Kerry James Reed
Marissa Elizabeth Ressler
Ariel E. Shultz
Amber Nicole Wilson
Emily Ann Zellie

Bachelor of Science in Education

Renee Carol Kusnir
Jessica Noel Radcliffe
Wyatt Elliott Shank

Outstanding Graduate Student Awards (Literature & Criticism)

Outstanding Teaching Award
Olivia Maderer
Abby Hennon-Robinson

Outstanding Dissertation Award
Sheila Farr
Amy George
Kelly Hamren
Nick Katsiadas
Matt Loudon
Debonair Oates-Primus
Kaitlin E. Tonti

Outstanding Scholarship Award for a Doctoral Student
Lenord Lawson
Lisa Mazey

Outstanding Scholarship Award for a Master’s Student
Jenny Russell

Outstanding Service and Citizenship Award
Taylor Jones
Lindsey Moser

Undergraduate English Awards 

Outstanding First-Year Students

Regan Covert
Leslie Folino
Paige Force
Julie Kopp
Jessica Morse
Alayna Pesce

Wendy Carse Sophomore Scholars

Leah Bogert
Emily Buseck
Gabriella Byrne
Jared Burkhardt
Haley Cook
Samuel Cunningham
Sydney Edwards
Kevin Figueroa
Annalise Haines
Morgan Heinbaugh
Jacie Martin
Bryce McElhinny
Kaycee Reesman
Delaney Stitt
Isis Truxon
Olivia Winters

T. Kenneth Wilson Junior Scholars

Cassidy Black
Triona Fant
Elizabeth Heller
Tessa Letso
Tyler Nunez
Tristan Pfeiffer
John Phillips
Nicole Pomazanski
Asher Rehn
Shania Turner

William Betts Senior Scholars

Amiranda Adams
Gabrielle Barton
Sydney Elslager
Toni Juart
Taylor Juszynski
Marissa Greenblatt
Karen Mack
Katharine McLaughlin
Margaret Olin
Jessica Radcliffe
Kerry Reed
Wyatt Shank
Michael Shuss
Sasha Slater
Jessica Smith
Quinn Smith
Jared Swansboro
Olivia Tarman
Hollie Williams

First-Year Student of the Year – English Education

Alayna Pesce

Second-Year Student of the Year – English Education

Jacie Martin

Third-Year Student of the Year – English Education

Cassidy Black

Valedictorian – English Education

Karen A. Mack

First-Year Student of the Year – BA English

Leslie Folino

Second-Year Student of the Year – BA English

Gabriella Byrne

Third-Year Student of the Year – BA English

Tyler Nunez

Valedictorian – BA English

Margaret Olin


Wendy Carse Scholarship

Gabrielle Byrne

Betty Ann Moore Wallwork Scholarship

Cassidy Black

Outstanding English Intern

Tyler Nunez


Writing Awards

Creative Nonfiction

First prize: Layne Sheldon, “Finding God”
In prose at once unassuming and relatable, “Finding God” tells the story of the author’s coming to faith—the story of how, in his teenage years, his skepticism toward Christianity gave way to revelation as, little by little, and with the help of several influential guides, he shed his theological reservations and experienced religious communion for the first time.

Critical Essay
First prize: Asher Rehn, “Law and Literature: A Critical Analysis”
The essay performs some intricate close readings of two texts with a nice focus on the tone and rhetorical strategies it uses to move and persuade its readers, and uses ample textual evidence in support of a clear argument.

Short Fiction

First Prize: Maren Krizner, “The Observer Effect”
If we suspect that all-powerful Being(s) were watching us, would it inevitably change our behavior, even if the observation were not “proven” or even discussed? This question, one found in the discipline of quantum mechanics, is the intriguing premise of The Observer Effect. The question is not overtly explicated in the story; rather, it unfolds itself through the sustained forward motion of the characters experiencing a rather ordinary day. A sense of unease in the reader is managed through the author’s deft use of narrative between the likable characters, sudden change of scenes, and abrupt, intrusive authorial narration. This work leaves the reader something to ponder in its ending: Is it possible that we ARE an experiment under The Eyes, as this well-told story suggests, of The Watchers?

Honorable Mention: Samuel Richard Cunningham, “Wherever I May Roam: The Exile’s Coronation”

Second Prize: Katie McLaughlin, “The Skin I Knew You In”
The short story “The Skin I Knew You In” asks the question: “Who is more susceptible to possession than teenage girls?” The question is answered in this story, which the author describes as the “demon baby” of the film Heathers and Stephen King’s IT, this darkly apt question is answered in an exploration of the dynamics of love, anger, and power between six girls. Each teen faces the overwhelming force that eventually pulls each of them under, destroying the innocent as well as the lost. This story shows no triumph of the human spirit. Instead, it is an unflinching look at the forces that can pull teenage girls under. Readers will recognize the dangers of growing up depicted in this story, even if they have never faced an implacable evil.

Third Prize: Asher Rehn, “A Time Travel Guide for Tourists”
“The Time Travel Guide” is a brief, artfully-written piece of self-aware science fiction in the vein of Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Committee members noted the satire directed at “how-to” guides and the multiple levels of irony at work in this short piece. “The Time Travel Guide” pokes fun at science fiction. The fantasy of time travel, on which the so much of the genre is based, is rendered mundane by the “practical” advice offered in the Guide. The committee agreed that this work is well-deserving of recognition.

Pedagogical Writing

First prize: Karen Mack, “451 Unit”
A clear and timely focused unit. The unit is dense with thinking and work for students and comes at a critical time for educators as we battle how to work through anti-intellectualism as a rising specter in Education and beyond. The unit shows a wide range of purposeful interactions around a highly valued text. The writer is clear about her goals and constructs classroom choices that are intended to create interactions and places for articulation with students and the text.

Second prize: Cassidy Black, “Pioneering Women”
A strong piece of valued academic writing that demonstrates the writer’s skills at providing claims and using evidence to support those claims. This piece was informative and easy to read. The content is important for Faculty and Students alike to consider as we work to realize a more balanced, nuanced, and accurate view of how we arrived at our understanding of Education and Educators.

Play- and Screenwriting

First Prize: Maren Krizner, “Blackout.”
The playwright skillfully takes us into what feels like a dream but also depicts reality as investigator and suspect switch roles. The detective becomes the murderer, and we become challenged to recognize the interchangeable nature of criminals and law enforcers.

Second Prize: Layne Sheldon, “It’s All Relative.”
Two teen-age best friends have to suddenly deal with their actual kinship and the choices made by their parents that have shaped their lives. The play deals concisely and powerfully with class differences and adult irresponsibility that leaves their sons floundering and angry.


First Prize: Maren Krizner, “Four Love Songs Addressed to You (Yes, You): An Incomplete Collection”
The judges were particularly impressed by “Love Song #2” (From the Tree in the Backyard of Your Childhood Home), admiring the range and power of the imagery, the unconventional perspective and voice, and the movement of the poem. Taken as a whole, this collection presented judges with work from a writer of great promise.

A special message: The faculty organizers and judges of the writing contests would like to extend their appreciation to all English majors who submitted entries and through their writing help keep literature alive.

*Graduates’ degree status is unofficial until final grades have been posted.

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About Dr. Daniel J. Weinstein

Dan's research, positioned at the intersection of educational technology and the psychology of creativity, tends to focus on how teachers may best use new technologies to help students prosper as learners and creators. A pioneer in the use of computer technology for teaching writing remotely, in 1996 Dan designed and taught the first online English Composition course ever offered at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York. Since that time he has continued to innovate teaching techniques that harness the potential of digital technologies to support students' creative growth. Dan grew up in New York but also lived in Connecticut, South Dakota, and Minnesota. He now lives in Indiana, Pennsylvania, where, besides exercising his devotion to teaching, he enjoys reading, writing, drawing, meditating, cooking, and generally strolling around town.

09. May 2020 by Dr. Daniel J. Weinstein
Categories: Uncategorized | 4 comments

Comments (4)

  1. Congratulations!! We are all proud of you!!

  2. Congratulations to all the graduates, award-winners, and the support people (faculty and staff, parents, partners, etc.) celebrating today! However far apart we are in distance, we’re all in this together, and IUP English is proud of all of you!

  3. Sorry, Samuel Cunningham was left out at first as an Honorable Mention in the Short Fiction category. Congratulations, Samuel!

    And congratulations to all our graduates and award winners!

  4. Congratulations to our graduates and award-winners! We are clapping and cheering for you.

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