Drew Duo Makes History at Annual English Convention

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For the first time in a long time, Drew University had two students attend the Sigma Tau Delta 2022 Convention. Emma-Li Downer (‘23) and Hannah Paczkowski (‘22) participated in the convention, making Drew history. 

Courtesy of Emma-Li Downer.

Downer and Paczkowski were both inducted into Drew’s Alpha Phi Omega chapter of Sigma Tau Delta (SigTD) in the Spring of 2021, and they attended the 2022 convention out of curiosity.

Paczowski said, “[I] entered the convention on a whim” after receiving a handful of promotional emails about the event.

The convention is an annual international convention open to members of the English honor society. This year, the convention took place in Atlanta, Ga. from March 30 to April 2. In addition to two guest speakers, the convention presents participants with opportunities “to meet face to face with other students, faculty, and respected authors, make new friends, discuss the disciplines of the English language and literature, and enjoy the offerings of the convention’s location,” according to its website.  

Downer and Paczowski each brought readings to present during the symposium. The latter read a piece from a creative nonfiction workshop titled “Notes on Repression,” which was honored with the Stemmler/Dennis LGBT& Award. The award recognizes outstanding work in queer storytelling.

“I knew that I submitted to the Stemmler/Dennis LGBT award when I entered the convention, but I didn’t know that I had won nor did I expect to win. I cried like a baby the whole time,” Paczowski said. “Because my piece is a personal essay, and because I was the only Stemmler/Dennis LGBT award winner for a creative writing piece, I was taken aback and thrilled.”

Downer’s “I’ve Been Lied To” also featured themes of aromanticism and asexuality. She added, “It was a story about lesser known identities and orientations in the LGBTQ community.” 

While Paczowski secured an award, Downer secured an internship with the SigTD’s journals, “Rectangle” and “Review.” Notably, she was the only undergraduate attendee to accomplish this feat.

While Downer and Paczowski did not go into the convention with intentions to increase the word count on their resumes, they nevertheless made history for Drew.

Since Drew’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta is relatively small, with just over 30 inductees in 2021, Paczowski said the convention was important to participate in, and they hope to get the word out for other interested Drew students. 

“Going to the convention and seeing all this has inspired me to make Drew’s chapter active and going to the convention as regular a thing a possible,” Downer said. “In fact, one doesn’t need to be reading a piece [at] the convention to attend. Drew students can go to see other strong writers and dedicated English students.”

While it is not typical for Drewids to attend this convention, Downer hopes the school and society will provide more students the opportunity to attend.

Downer said, “Overall, though, I want to work with the English Department going forward to make SigTD and our other honor society, Pi Epsilon Pi, the National writing honors society, more active [by] connecting students here with one another, with other writers, editors and professionals, and even with students at other schools.”

Paczkowski added, “We hope that our experience will help future Drew students take advantage of opportunities like these.”

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