Hollins Students Recognized for Prominent Leadership Roles at Model Arab League

Hollins University welcomed to campus 12 delegations and nearly 100 students from middle school to college for the Fourth Annual Appalachia Regional Model Arab League (MAL), held November 9 – 11.

Similar in organization and format to Model United Nations, MAL is the flagship student leadership program of the National Council on U.S. – Arab Relations (NCUSAR). Through role-playing, the conference allows both American and international students the opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of real-life diplomats and other foreign affairs practitioners and deepen their knowledge of the Arab world and it peoples.

During this year’s Appalachia MAL, students discussed such issues as the Palestinian conflict, global climate change, building greater Arab unity, and promoting more private investment in the region. For the first time, all conference council chairs were Hollins students. Notably, Hayley Harrington ’19 and Carly Collins ’21 acted as secretary-general and assistant secretary-general, respectively, while Hannah Jensen ’20 was awarded Outstanding Chair and Sami Makseyn ’19 was named Distinguished Chair.

Other Hollins students receiving honors at the Appalachia MAL include:

Emmalee Funk ’20 and Madison McElhinney ’20: Outstanding Delegation, Palestinian Affairs Council

Claire Hintz ’21: Outstanding Delegate, Summit of Arab Heads of State

Tien Nguyen ’22: Outstanding Delegate, Social Affairs Council

Mary Elizabeth Cochran ’21: Distinguished Delegate, Environmental Affairs Council

Professor of Political Science Edward Lynch announced that Hollins will participate in the National University Model Arab League conference at Georgetown University in April 2019. “Only 22 universities worldwide are invited to take part in the national conference,” Lynch said. In addition, he and Harrington will be traveling to the Arab nation of Qatar during Hollins’ Thanksgiving Recess as part of a faculty-student delegation sponsored by NCUSAR to the Persian Gulf Region. The delegation will meet with government officials, private business people, academics, and journalists.

Ed Lynch NCUSAR
Professor of Political Science Edward Lynch addresses the Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference on Nov. 1 in Washington, D.C.

 

Earlier this month, Lynch was a featured speaker at NCUSAR’s 27th Annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference in Washington, D.C. Before an audience of 350 people that included high-ranking policymakers from the U.S. and the Arab-speaking world, Lynch discussed Hollins’ active participation in MAL and the intellectual benefits students receive from it.

“Students learn to do rapid-fire research and how to debate and negotiate,” he explained. “They also get invaluable experience with public speaking and working together as a team.”

 

 

Top photo: Hollins University’s delegation to the Fourth Annual Appalachia Regional Model Arab League. Hollins represented Saudi Arabia and Sudan at the conference.

 

 


Submission Deadline for 2019 Margaret Wise Brown Prize Is Jan. 15

Publishers of picture books released in 2018 are invited to have their works considered for the 2019 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature. The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2019.

Presented annually, the Margaret Wise Brown Prize recognizes the author of the best text for a picture book published during the previous year. The award is a tribute to one of Hollins University’s best-known alumnae and one of America’s most beloved children’s authors. Winners are given a $1,000 cash prize, which comes from an endowed fund created by James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death. Each recipient will also receive an engraved bronze medal as well as an invitation to accept the award and present a reading on campus during the summer session of Hollins’ graduate programs in children’s literature.

Judges for the 2019 prize include:

  • Elaine Magliaro, author of the 2018 Margaret Wise Brown Prize-winning book Things to Do.
  • Laura Kvasnosky, author of Little Wolf’s First Howling, the 2018 Margaret Wise Brown Prize Honor Book.
  • B. Lewis, a five-time Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator of over 70 books for children.

The publisher should submit four copies of each book they wish to nominate for the Margaret Wise Brown Prize: one copy to Hollins University and one copy to each of the three judges. Books must have been first published in 2018; reprints are not eligible. The winner will be announced in May 2019.

Please contact Lisa Rowe Fraustino at fraustinolr@hollins.edu for the judges’ addresses and further submission instructions.

The study of children’s literature as a scholarly experience was initiated at Hollins in 1973; in 1992, the graduate program in children’s literature was founded. Today, Hollins offers summer M.A. and M.F.A. programs exclusively in the study and writing of children’s literature, an M.F.A. in children’s book writing and illustrating, and a graduate-level certificate in children’s book illustration.

 


Hollins Professor to Keynote POW/MIA Awareness Day Ceremony

Hollins University Professor of English Marilyn Moriarty will deliver the keynote address at the POW/MIA Awareness Day ceremony on Saturday, September 22, at 11 a.m. at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. Admission to this special event is free.

According to the ceremony organizers, “The objective of POW/MIA Awareness Day is to ensure America remembers its responsibility to stand behind those who serve our nation and do everything possible to account for those who do not return.”

Moriarty’s talk, “Andreé: A Name on the Prisoners’ List,” draws from the ongoing research she’s conducting for a memoir, an early draft of which was short-listed for the 2018 Faulkner-Wisdom Narrative Nonfiction Book Award. Her study has focused on her mother’s experience with the French underground during World War II.

Moriatry says the impetus for her research came from an old photo. “A 1945 photograph addressed to my father, ‘With love, Liliane,’ put a false name to my mother Andreé’s face. Decades later, that name became the key to unraveling her wartime activities.” With the assistance of newly-found French cousins, she discovered that even though her mother did not wear a uniform, “she was arrested by the Gestapo, spent six months in solitary confinement, was tried by the Wehrmacht, and served two years of a four-year sentence before the war ended.”

The memoir project has produced some spin-off work. An essay, “Swerves,” won the 2014 Faulkner-Wisdom Gold Medal and was reprinted in the 2016 anthology, Borderlines and Crossings: Writing the Motherland. Another essay, “You Are Where You Eat,” appears in text and audio on The Dirty SpoonThe essay will also be published on the France-Amérique website in early October.

Moriarty adds that invitation to speak at the POW/MIA Awareness Day ceremony came through a Hollins connection: April Cheek-Messier ’94, M.A.T. ’02, who is president of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation.

 


“LeVar Burton Reads” Spotlights New Short Story by Karen Bender

The podcast hosted by the star of Roots, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Reading Rainbow is presenting a new short story penned by Hollins’ Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing.

“The Cell Phones” by Karen Bender, which will appear in her forthcoming collection, The New Order, is the focus of the latest episode of “LeVar Burton Reads,” which “invites you to take a break from your daily life, and dive into a great story.” Launched in 2017, the podcast has previously featured stories by such acclaimed authors as Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami, Octavia Butler, and Ray Bradbury. Each work of short fiction read on the podcast is handpicked by Burton.

Earning selection for “LeVar Burton Reads” is just the latest accolade for Bender. Her short story collection, Refund, was a Finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction and shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize; it was also a Los Angeles Times bestseller. Another of her books, Like Normal People, was a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, a Los Angeles Times bestseller, and part of the Barnes and Noble Discover program. Her stories have appeared in magazines including The New Yorker, Granta, Zoetrope, Ploughshares, Guernica, and The Harvard Review, have been anthologized in Best American Short Stories and Best American Short Stories, and won two Pushcart prizes.

Bender joined the Hollins faculty in 2015. She has also taught creative writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Warren Wilson College, the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Chatham University, Antioch University Los Angeles, and Tunghai University in Taiwan.


U.S. News: Hollins Is Among the Nation’s Top 30 Schools for Value

U.S. News and World Report‘s 2019 Best Colleges has ranked Hollins University as the country’s #27 Best Value School in the National Liberal Arts Colleges category.

“To determine which colleges and universities offer the best value for students,” the college guide says, “U.S. News take into account both academic quality and cost.” Three variables determine the Best Value rankings:

  • Ratio of quality to price (“The higher the ratio of a school’s 2019 Best Colleges overall score to the discounted total cost for the academic year, the better the value.”)
  • Need-based aid (“The higher the percentage of all undergraduates receiving need-based scholarships or grants, the better.”)
  • Average discount (“The percentage of a school’s total sticker cost – tuition, room and board, fees, books, and other expenses – that was covered by the average need-based scholarship or grant award for undergraduates. The higher the discount percentage, the better.”)

U.S. News places Hollins at #103 overall in the National Liberal Arts Colleges category. According to the guide, these schools “emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half of their degrees in the liberal arts fields of study.” The university is also cited as an “A-Plus School for B Students” among National Liberal Arts Colleges. “Since the U.S. News rankings are a gauge of excellence,” the guide explains, “National Liberal Arts Colleges all had to first be ranked in top three-fourths of their 2019 Best Colleges ranking category to be eligible.” In addition, the guide looked at average freshman retention rates (“an important indicator of student satisfaction”) and admissions data (“…colleges had to admit a meaningful proportion of students who didn’t get straight A’s”). Hollins is noted as a “More Selective” school in the “A-Plus Schools for B Students” listings.

The U.S. News profile of Hollins features a detailed overview of academics, cost and aid, how to apply, and more.

 


Hollins, Roanoke College Announce Perry F. Kendig Award Nominees

Artists, arts advocates, and arts and cultural organizations are among the nominees for the 2018 Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards.

Co-sponsored by Hollins University and Roanoke College, the Kendig Awards program recognizes exemplary individuals, businesses, and organizations in the Roanoke Valley that support excellence in the arts.

This year’s winners will be announced at Hollins University’s Wyndham Robertson Library on Wednesday, Sept. 12, at 5:30 p.m.

Here are the nominees for the 2018 Kendig Awards:

  • Nancy Agee
    Agee is the president and CEO of Carilion Clinic and president of the American Hospital Association. She has supported artists, performers and educators in the Roanoke Valley for more than 30 years.
  • Artemis, Artists & Writers, Inc.
    A publisher of literary and art journals, and host of local exhibitions and events for 40 years, Artemis has showcased literary and visual artists from Southwest Virginia and beyond. Recent publications have introduced the culture of the Roanoke Valley to Europe, Australia and Asia, and their free workshops, internships and festivals have inspired creativity and fellowship for all ages and all levels of experience.
  • Rita Bishop
    As the superintendent for Roanoke City Public Schools (RCPS), Bishop has fostered partnerships with Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Opera Roanoke, the Jefferson Center, Southwest Virginia Ballet and others. Through her leadership, advocacy and service, leaders from the VH1 Save the Music Foundation have supported RCPS programs with hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  •  Dotsy Clifton
    For more than four decades, Clifton has supported many of the region’s arts organizations. As a volunteer, she has served on the board of directors of The Roanoke Women’s Foundation, The Grandin Theatre, Center in the Square and Mill Mountain Theatre, where she was board chair. Clifton has been praised as a true conduit, realizing that the arts and history of this region humanize and connect its citizens in many ways.
  • Doug Jackson
    Jackson first became involved in Roanoke’s arts and cultural scene with the Roanoke Arts Commission. He played a key role in developing the city’s first Arts and Cultural Plan as well as Book City Roanoke, and has volunteered for Roanoke Valley Reads and CityWorks (X)po. He is also a published author who has won the James Andrew Purdy Prize for Fiction and the Artisan Center of Virginia’s Award for Excellence.
  • Jefferson Center
    A premier performance venue, educational hub, and center for community life, the Jefferson Center’s mission is to provide broad access to inspirational performing arts, transformative arts education, and vibrant community space. Its Music Lab program, which offers music education to students of all ages, is a nationally recognized model for arts education beyond the classroom. The Jefferson Center also is home to more than 15 regional nonprofits and small businesses.
  • Cynthia and Mark Lawrence
    The Lawrences have connected arts organizations with business and have helped both succeed on projects that yield community-wide benefits. Their participation in organizations such as Mill Mountain Theatre, Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, and the Taubman Museum of Art have positively impacted the culture of the Roanoke Valley and brought together countless artists and other influential Roanokers.
  • Amanda Mansfield
    Mansfield has made a major impact on the Roanoke theater scene for more than 12 years. She has performed for numerous production companies in the area, and has led successful program development and fundraising efforts for Roanoke Children’s Theatre, Center in the Square and Mill Mountain Theatre. She was responsible for significant increases in the annual operating budgets for all three organizations.
  • Maury Strauss
    Strauss’s support of and dedication to arts and culture in Roanoke spans a broad spectrum, including the Taubman Museum of Art, The Jefferson Center, Roanoke Children’s Theatre (which he helped establish), Opera Roanoke, Temple Emanuel, Mill Mountain Theatre, Virginia Western Community College and many other organizations. Through Strauss’s generosity, the Taubman has created the Sheila and Maury L. Strauss Art Venture Endowment.
  • Margaret Sue Turner Wright
    Having curated a dozen art shows and establishing organizations such as Plein Air Roanoke and 202 Figurative Group, Wright has welcomed hundreds of artists, patrons, and enthusiasts to Roanoke. Locally, she has donated many of her paintings to auctions that have raised several thousand dollars for hospitals and arts institutions. She has also donated paintings for charity fundraising events around the country, including Back to the Roots, hosted by Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Named for the late Perry F. Kendig, who served as president of Roanoke College and was an avid supporter and patron of the arts, the Kendig Awards were established in 1985 and presented annually by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge through 2012. Hollins University and Roanoke College first partnered the following year to bestow the honors, and congratulate the 2018 slate of distinguished nominees.

For more information about the Kendig Awards, visit https://kendig.press.hollins.edu/.


Hollins Earns National Rankings in The Princeton Review’s “The Best 384 Colleges”

Hollins University is among the top 20 schools in the country for politically involved students, college theatre, and effective student government, according to the new edition of The Princeton Review’s annual college guide, The Best 384 Colleges.

Based on surveys of 138,000 students, an average of 359 per campus, The Best 384 Colleges features detailed profiles and rating scores in eight categories of the top colleges and universities in the nation. The book also includes ranking lists of the top 20 schools in 62 categories.

Hollins is ranked #5 in the category Most Politically Active Students, #10 on the Best College Theatre list, and #13 for Most Active Student Government.

“We picked the 384 ‘best’ colleges for our book primarily for their outstanding academics; we highly recommend each one,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief and the book’s lead author. “However, we know applicants need far more than an academic rating or ranking to find the college that will be best for them. We created our 62 ranking lists to help narrow that search. They are based entirely on data we gather beyond academics that gives insight into what the schools’ enrolled students say about their professors, administrators, school services, campus culture, and student life. In the end, it’s all about the fit.”

In its profile, The Best 384 Colleges calls Hollins “a place for unique individuals to thrive, empowering each other and forming a supportive community for women.” It also describes the university’s alumnae network as “solid…many students land jobs and internships through previous graduates.”

The 2019 edition of The Best 384 Colleges was published August 7.

 


Film Major’s LGBT Short Is a YouTube Sensation

A Hollins University student filmmaker is generating impressive online buzz with her unconventional approach to the LGBT movie genre.

Collide, a short film written and directed by Hannah Thompson ’20, has been seen more than 510,000 times since it premiered on YouTube in December 2016.

“I wanted to do something original that I could relate to,” says Thompson, a double-major in film and psychology from Warrenton, Virginia. “A lot of LGBT short films are also geared toward a straight audience by featuring two fem lesbians and portraying sexual situations. They can make more money that way, but it has always made me feel uncomfortable.”

Collide is the story of two young women who dislike one another intensely upon their first meeting in a high school classroom. But when their teacher pairs them on a project that focuses on conquering their individual fears, a friendship blossoms and they ultimately fall in love.

“Coming out is not a main plot point,” Thompson explains. “There’s no tragic story where being gay is their downfall. Their sexuality is never mentioned. It’s just something that happens similar to any straight love story. I wanted people to watch Collide and say, ‘Wow, I’ve had this happen to me.’”

Based on the more than 1,100 comments that have been posted on YouTube since the film’s debut, Collide has clearly touched many. Thompson believes it’s because the story “ends happily. We’re excited for what’s to come, and people understand that the two main characters are going to be together. Often, especially in popular films, it doesn’t happen that way. I wanted something that was easy for people to latch onto, and I’m grateful they did.”

Thompson says she’s been humbled by what people have shared. Feedback has often been along the lines of, “I don’t really see happy lesbian stories. I’m so glad to find something relatable instead of watching a heterosexual romance and hoping I can find something that’s meaningful to me.” Viewers overseas have expressed this common sentiment: “This isn’t legal here, but I’m so glad to see something like this. It makes me feel that maybe one day I can have this life.”

The film has also inspired fan fiction and even prompted Halloween revelers to dress up as the film’s characters. In March, Unite UK: An LGBT+ Blog Uniting the Community Together, interviewed Thompson and members of the film’s cast for a feature story, and last summer, Collide was an official selection as a semi-finalist at Canada’s Our Voices Film Festival.

Thompson’s journey of artistic discovery that ultimately led to filmmaking was by no means pre-determined. She attended art classes and camps from an early age, “but I couldn’t find the thing I was best at. I did theatre, studio art, photography, and I was mediocre at all those things. I never really found what I loved until I took a film class at Hollins.”

Growing up, Thompson was familiar with Hollins because her grandmother is an alumna. In her early teens, at her grandmother’s urging, Thompson attended Hollinsummer, the university’s educational camp for rising ninth through 12th grade girls. “I was scared because it was my first sleepaway camp,” she recalls, “but I loved the campus. It was the first time I’d ever been away from home that I wasn’t homesick. I felt like it was sort of my place.”

That impression still resonated with Thompson when she was applying to colleges a few years later. “Even though I had been at Hollins a lot, I went ahead and did a real campus tour. I remember turning to my mom and saying, ‘This is it.’”

Thompson initially thought she’d major only in psychology, but her artistic drive persisted despite her previous frustrations. Since film was a genre she had not actively pursued previously, she decided to enroll in a video production class her first year. “I was nervous because it was the first film class I had ever taken. I worried, ‘What if this doesn’t go well for me?’ I don’t like not being good at things.”

Fortunately, Thompson quickly found an ally in Amy Gerber-Stroh, associate professor of film and chair of Hollins’ film department. An accomplished filmmaker in her own right, Gerber-Stroh helped Thompson build her confidence and realize film making was the artistic outlet she had been seeking.

“Amy has changed my life in so many different ways. Coming into Hollins, I was afraid I wasn’t going to find the thing I could pour my entire heart into. I felt like I had so much to say and I didn’t know where to put it.”

With guidance from Gerber-Stroh and other faculty as well as the support of her fellow film students, Thompson says she “has a home in the film department. It’s this place where I can be myself and share my art. Sometimes you have to do that when your work is incomplete and therefore at its most vulnerable, but I’ve learned that’s okay because students and mentors are always there to help, especially when you’re flustered and your ideas aren’t working out.”

Thompson now has four films available online. Another short, August and the Rain Boots (2017), is similar to Collide in that it tells the story of a friendship that grows into a romantic relationship and ends on a celebratory note. The film boasts more than 192,000 YouTube views and was recently selected to appear at the Oregon Cinema Arts Film Festival.

“Hannah has become such a superstar through our film program,” Gerber-Stroh says. “It’s remarkable how often she gets requests from advertisers, actors, and others from the film industry asking for a chance to work with her. She epitomizes this new era of how students make films and videos and how they show their work.”

Thompson plans to go to Los Angeles after graduating from Hollins. “I want to be a director for the rest of my life, telling my stories and working with amazing people.”

 

Photo caption: Hannah Thompson ’20 shoots a scene for her 2017 short film, August and the Rain Boots. 


2018 Grad Wins Hallberg Award for Creative Nonfiction

Rachael Walker ’18 has been named the recipient of the Fourth Annual Bill Hallberg Award in Creative Writing, presented by the Department of English at East Carolina University (ECU).

The competition is open to undergraduates at colleges and universities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, and this year’s award was given for excellence in creative nonfiction.

Walker, who graduated this spring from Hollins with a degree in English, was recognized for her essay, “A Small Seed of Fate Carried Inside Me.”

“As politics continue to make women’s reproductive rights a national conversation, Rachael Walker’s ‘A Small Seed of Fate Carried Inside Me’ reminds us of the personal, often fraught relationships women have to their bodies,” said Renee K. Nicholson, assistant professor of multi and interdisciplinary studies at West Virginia University and a judge in the contest. “As it explores the terrain that is women’s bodies, it complicates it by simultaneously addressing what it means to be of mixed ethnicity. Gently threading these ideas through sections, Walker takes us through familial relationships as well as the journey to better understand the self.”

Walker will receive a $150 cash prize. A reading of her winning essay will take place at ECU on Wednesday, November 14 at 3:30 p.m.


Suzy Mink ’74 Wins Triathlon Gold in Denmark

Triathlete Suzy Mink ’74 has added another triumph to her distinguished competitive career.

Mink, who serves as Hollins University’s vice president for external relations, captured her age group’s gold medal in the Long Distance Triathlon at the International Triathlon Union (ITU)/ Fynske Bank Multisport World Championships, held July 5 – 14 in Denmark. The festival features five world championships in four disciplines (Duathlon, Aqua Bike, Cross Triathlon, and Long Distance Triathlon), and this year welcomed approximately 5,000 national and international athletes. The race consisted of a 1.8-mile swim, 74 miles on bicycle, and an 18-mile run.

Mink’s gold medal victory caps an impressive 12-month record of athletic accomplishment for her. In August 2017, she won third place in her age group at Canada’s Penticton ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships. The following month, she placed 20th at 2017 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final (Olympic distance) in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

In January of this year, Mink helped launch the inaugural Torch Relay at the kickoff to New York’s 38th Empire State Winter Games. She was the Games’ honored guest as a tribute to her membership on the relay team that carried the Olympic torch 900 miles to Lake Placid for the 1980 Winter Olympics.