M.F.A. in Dance Student Wins AAUW Career Development Grant

lewisLeila Anglin Lewis, a student in Hollins University’s Master of Fine Arts program in dance, has been awarded a Career Development Grant by the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

AAUW presents Career Development Grants annually as a way to help empower women in furthering their careers.

“We’re so proud to continue this wonderful legacy and to salute this new class of fellows and grantees,” said Gloria Blackwell, AAUW vice president of fellowships, grants, and global programs. “They now join the ranks of Nobel Prize winners, celebrated authors, social entrepreneurs, and prominent scholars who have used AAUW funding to advance equality for women and girls.”

Lewis, who resides in Greensboro, North Carolina, is an arts administrator, dance artist, and community advocate. Her vision is to create a life-affirming community wholeness center that houses an arts ecosystem and a family centered birthing center. In addition to pursuing her M.F.A. in dance at Hollins, Lewis is studying to become a certified professional midwife.

Lewis will use her AAUW Career Development Grant to research a paper focusing on the contextualization of the movement-based works of literary artists Zora Neale Hurston and Ntozake Shange. The grant will also support work on her thesis, which will draw parallels between the history of Samba, a Brazilian music and dance form, and the phases of womanhood according to the womb.

AAUW is one of the world’s leading supporters of graduate women’s education, having awarded nearly $100 million in fellowships, grants, and awards to more than 12,000 women from more than 130 countries since 1888.

Golfers Named All-American Scholars

golf_honorsHollins golf team members Elizabeth Cheng ’14 and Shannon Ciccarello ’17 have been named All-American Scholars for 2013-14 by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA).

A total of 664 women’s collegiate golfers from Divisions I, II, and III were recognized with this prestigious honor. The WGCA’s criteria for selection to the All-American Scholar Team are some of the most stringent in all of college athletics: The minimum cumulative GPA is 3.50.

The complete list of this year’s honorees can be found here.

Golfers Win Major ODAC Honors

golf_honorsThe Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) has recognized Hollins golfers Elizabeth Cheng ’14 and Shannon Ciccarello ’17 with two of the league’s highest honors in women’s golf.

Cheng, who hails from Virginia Beach, won her second straight ODAC/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Award from the league’s sports information directors. She maintains a 3.91 grade point average as a chemistry major and biochemistry minor. A member of the ODAC All-Academic Team, she is a three-time NGCA All-American Scholar as well as an honor student at Hollins. She won both the Chemical Society Award and the Judith Gregory Smith Award in 2012.

On the golf course, Cheng placed second in the ODAC Tournament and finished the season leading the ODAC with a 78.5 average. She competed in seven events with six top-ten and five top-five showings. She posted three runner-up performances in addition to the ODAC Tournament, including the Preview at the Barn, Generals Invitational, and Bridgewater Invitational. She is currently rated #21 by Golfstat.

Cheng is the second Hollins student-athlete this spring to win the ODAC/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Award. In April, Cecelia Parks ’14 received the honor for equestrians.

Ciccerello, from Stafford, Virginia, won the ODAC Rookie of the Year Award, capping a strong first year at Hollins. Her season average of 85.6 is seventh in the conference. She competed in seven events this season, posting three top-ten finishes. Sixth place was her high finish in three different events: the Preview at the Barn, Bridgewater Invitational, and ODAC Tournament.

Cheng was also named All-ODAC First Team, while Ciccarello made All-ODAC Second Team.

Carrie Brown Named Finalist for the Library of Virginia’s 2014 Fiction Award

brownDistinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing Carrie Brown’s most recent novel, The Last First Day, is one of three finalists for the Library of Virginia’s 2014 Emyl Jenkins Sexton Literary Award for Fiction.

The library calls The Last First Day  ”an exquisitely written story of abiding love.” Kirkus Reviews describes the novel as “bittersweet with nostalgia, surprisingly sensual and sharply nuanced in its depiction of the strains and rewards that shape any long marriage.”

Brown previously won the Library of Virginia’s fiction prize in 2001 for The Hatbox Baby and in 2005 for Confinement. Her 2008 novel, The Rope Walk, was a finalist for the award.

The Emyl Jenkins Sexton Literary Award for Fiction will be announced on Saturday, October 18, at the 17th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards Celebration Honoring Virginia Authors and Friends.

Hollins Theatre Honored for Producing Women Playwrights

ICWPHollins Theatre is one of 67 theatre companies from nine countries cited by the International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP) for producing the work of women playwrights.

The ICWP has presented Hollins its 50/50 Applause Award, which spotlights theatres that produce 50% or more women playwrights in their season of shows. Theatres in Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States are among the honorees for 2014.

The award continues Hollins Theatre’s impressive run of national and international recognition. Over the past 20 months, the program has received 14 awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, including honors in production, direction, performance, and playwriting for Decision Height. The drama was written by Meredith Dayna Levy, a 2012 graduate of the university who is now pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree in the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins. Two playwriting awards were also presented this spring to Laura King, a candidate for the Master of Fine Arts degree in playwriting at Hollins, and five national Kennedy Center awards were given last year to Hollins’ production of Natasha Trethewey’s Bellocq’s Ophelia.

Founded in 1988, ICWP’s mission is to support women playwrights worldwide and bring attention to their work.

Film Written by MFA Grad to be Broadcast Nationally

hopeSusie’s Hope, a movie written and produced by Dan A.R. Kelly M.F.A. ’14, will air on the UP television network August 3.

The film, directed by Jerry Rees (The Brave Little Toaster), stars Emmanuelle Vaugier (40 Days and 40 Nights), Burgess Jenkins (Remember the Titans), and Andrea Powell (Ender’s Game). It’s about the inspirational relationship between a pit bull attack survivor, Donna Lawrence, and Susie, an abused pit bull-mix puppy, who learn to heal and forgive together. The movie is based on the real-life story of Lawrence and a severely abused puppy left for dead that she found in a Greensboro, North Carolina, park.

With the help of the Guilford County Animal Shelter, Susie survived her near-death experience and was adopted by Lawrence. Susie’s ordeal eventually led to the passing of Susie’s Law, which allows stricter punishment for animal abusers in North Carolina.

Susie, who is this year’s Therapy Dog Finalist in the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards, portrays herself in the film.

On August 12, Green Apple Entertainment will release Susie’s Hope on DVD nationwide. The film has been given the Dove Family Seal of Approval.

Kelly received his M.F.A. in screenwriting and film studies at Hollins’ commencement exercises in May. He is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America.


Virginia Social Science Association Honors Catherine Hensly ’14 with Best Undergraduate Paper Award

henslyCatherine Hensly ’14 has been named the winner of the 2014 Best Undergraduate Paper Award by the Virginia Social Science Association (VSSA).

The Hollins senior, who is double-majoring in economics and business, was honored for her paper, “Higher Education, Higher Cost: An Income-Contingent Approach.”

Hensly and her advisor, Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics Deborah Spencer, were recognized at the VSSA’s 87th Annual Meeting, held April 18-19 at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. The paper was presented at the conference’s panel session, “Health Care, Poverty, and Education in Economic Perspective.”

The VSSA’s goal is to bring together all groups related to the social science disciplines of anthropology, business, criminal justice, economics, geography, history, international relations, political science, psychology, and sociology. The association envisions three main interrelated missions regarding teaching, research, and outreach:

  • promoting multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary work in the social sciences;
  • offering students, including undergraduates, opportunities for professional development in presenting their scholarship; and
  •  bringing together teachers at all levels of education in Virginia.

Photo: Beverly Colwell Adams (left), assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, presents the Best Undergraduate Paper Award to Hensly at the VSSA’s 87th Annual Meeting.

NBA’s Washington Wizards Invite Hollins Student to Sing National Anthem

medinaFor more than 90 years, the performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” has been an enduring ritual at professional athletic events, one that ESPN The Magazine describes as “sacred.”

On Saturday, April 12, Andolyn Medina ’17 will get the opportunity to add her own unique chapter to this American tradition when she sings the National Anthem before the game between the NBA’s Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks in Washington, D.C.

“A friend of my mom’s suggested sending videos to some NBA teams of me singing the anthem,” explains Medina, an opera singer who hails from Chesapeake, Virginia. She says the Wizards expressed interest in scheduling her to perform before a game last month, “but I couldn’t because it was a school day.” The team subsequently booked her for a weekend contest that would not interfere with her studies.

Medina is a seasoned veteran of performing the National Anthem before live audiences. She first sang it publicly when she was eight years old at the ceremony commemorating her father’s retirement from the Navy. Since then, she estimates she’s performed the song as many as 50 times for various official events in Chesapeake and for Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, who represents Virginia’s Third District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

But, what prompted the friend of Medina’s mother to urge her to approach the Wizards and other NBA teams was one particularly special anthem performance.

“Based on Congressman Scott’s recommendation, I was asked to sing before an appearance by President Obama at Phoebus High School in Hampton in July 2012,” she recalls. Afterward, “he shook my hand, asked me how I was doing in school and where I wanted to go to college. He was down-to-earth. My mom asked me, ‘Did it hit you that you were talking to the President of the United States?’  I think we related well because he has two daughters of his own.”

Medina says she’s never sung in front of an audience as large as what she will encounter at the Wizards-Bucks game: Verizon Center, the Wizards’ home arena, seats more than 20,200 spectators for basketball. Yet, with the help of her father,  she’s discovered a way to keep any nervousness in check, whether she’s performing before the President or thousands of sports fans.

“When I was younger, I messed up the National Anthem once and my dad encouraged me to visualize the importance of the song and the symbolism of what it means to sing it for the country. Since then, whenever I have performed the anthem, I have thought about all the soldiers who have defended our rights and our freedoms. I really try to put myself in the moment so people can feel the passion of the song.” On April 12, she’ll also have her very own cheering section: more than 20 family members and friends are planning to attend the game.

Medina is a psychology major at Hollins and wants to become a pediatrician. She is enrolled in a three-year accelerated program that includes pre-med prerequisites. But, she says she is “intent on having music remain a part of my life, so I am really interested in music therapy. I want to be able to help others through music.”

And, don’t be surprised to see Medina singing the National Anthem at more big-time pro games in the future. She says her mom is going to send a video of her performance at the Wizards-Bucks contest to the Washington Redskins “because I’m a really big Redskins fan!”

Two Hollins Authors Are Among This Year’s “Best New Poets”

poetsS.H. Lohmann ’08, M.F.A. ’12 and Brittney Scott M.F.A. ’10 are two of the poets whose work is featured in Best New Poets 2014, an annual anthology of 50 poems from emerging writers that will be published this November.

Each year, a guest editor selects poems from nominations made by literary magazines and writing programs, as well as an open internet competition. This year’s guest editor, award-winning poet and author Dorianne Laux, chose Lohmann’s “Lullaby” and Scott’s “The Money Shot.”

Launched in 2005, the Best New Poets anthology series is published by Samovar Press/University of Virginia Press.

Children’s Literature Graduate Student Shares Inaugural Manchester Writing for Children Prize

Ashleigh Gill, who is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in children’s literature at Hollins University, has been named co-winner of the first-ever Manchester Writing for Children Prize.

The competition was judged by poets Mandy Coe, Imtiaz Dharker, and Philip Gross. Entrants were asked to submit a portfolio of three to five poems for readers aged five to 12. The prize was presented at the Manchester Children’s Book Festival (MCBF), which was established by United Kingdom Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. The festival took place June 26 – July 6 and is the only event of its kind in northwest England.

Gill, who hails from Hinton, West Virginia, will share the £2,000 first prize award with author Louise Greig.

“The 2014 Manchester Writing for Children Prize was the perfect way to celebrate existing and new poets writing for children,” explained Coe. “The prize is the first of its kind so our fingers were crossed…but from Australia to the USA and throughout the UK, poets confirmed how vital and inspiring they found this genre….

“This competition was a joy to judge and it was fascinating to encounter so many perceptions of what poetry for children can be. It feels as though a door has been thrown open and the world of children’s poetry just breathed in.”

On the MCBF’s blog page, Coe said that there were specific attributes she and her fellow judges were seeking in the poems they short-listed and commended in the competition. “There were lots of things that we were looking for: Humour, seriousness, sound (we read them all aloud to each other). We were looking for something fresh, something that said, ‘Read me – and read me again.’”

Gill flew to England for the special ceremony announcing the prize winners, and was “jubilant at the news” she had won, according to the blog.

“It’s just wonderful to be here, especially on what is my first time in this country, and to  be among so many wonderful, breath-taking, amazing, beautiful poets.”

Learn more here about the Manchester Writing for Children Prize.