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Pictured are chapter advisors Tim and Magdelyn Helwig with WIU students Paige Rohrback, Molly Cameron and Tess Tyler.
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WIU English Students Present Research at Sigma Tau Delta Convention

April 17, 2018

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MACOMB, IL -- Three students from the Western Illinois University Department of English presented their original research at the international Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society convention in Cincinnati, OH.

Over four days, from March 21-24, English major, chapter president and graduating senior Molly Cameron, of Ellisville, IL; senior English education major Tess Tyler, of Pleasant Plains, IL; and junior English education major Paige Rohrback, of Lake Zurich, IL, presented juried papers and fielded questions from the audience, participated on roundtables and attended panels of other English majors from among the 900 chapters of Sigma Tau Delta around the world. Only 60-70 percent of papers are accepted annually for presentation at the convention.

Cameron presented, "Addicted to Happiness: Dystopia as Utopia," which is an excerpt of her undergraduate honor's thesis, directed by English Professor David Banash. She also participated on a roundtable, "Brave New Worlds: Plausible Dystopias," with four other students.

"Presenting at the Sigma Tau Delta convention has been the highlight of the semester," said Cameron. "It's so uplifting to have the opportunity to share my work with a supportive audience and to network with people in my field. Everything was a positive experience, from presenting my paper and conducting a round table discussion, to winning third place in the bad poetry contest and learning about the history of Cincinnati."

Cameron plans to pursue a master's degree in English at the University of South Dakota in the fall.

Tyler presented "Prospero: Man of Otherness in 'The Tempest'," supervised by Associate Professor of English Chris Morrow, and Rohrback presented "Home Away From Home," a paper on the organization's common reader, Cristina Henriquez's "The Book of Unknown Americans," and supervised by Assistant Professor Magdelyn Helwig.

"Attending the Sigma Tau Delta convention was an incredibly enriching experience because it not only gave me the opportunity to present my academic work, but it also allowed me to network with other English majors and hear about their scholarly research on topics like Teaching Shakespeare to Children, Popular Culture and Mental Health, and Getting Published," said Tyler, who will begin her semester of student teaching next fall. "I believe that the information I gained from the panels will assist me in my future as an English teacher. Keeping up-to-date with research in the field is very important to English teachers."

Rohrback said the Sigma Tau Delta convention was an amazing opportunity to present an original piece to English majors and professors, and to connect with people who are also passionate about literature.

"It was wonderful to be in an environment that fostered discussion and confirmed my career aspirations," she said.

All three students received competitive College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Grants for their trip, as well as funding from the Office of Student Activities and the WIU Department of English.

When the students were not exchanging ideas, and engaging in fellowship with their peers, they toured the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center with chapter advisors Tim and Magdelyn Helwig, and they received a private tour of the Harriet Beecher Stowe House.

"This is an amazing opportunity for our Western students to present their critical and creative writing on a national stage, and to make lasting connections with other like-minded students from around the world," said Associate Professor Tim Helwig. "The fact that Western fully supports this valuable educational experience for our talented students each year is greatly appreciated."

Magdelyn Helwig said the Phi Delta Chapter received a project grant from Sigma Tau Delta to assist in completion of a service project to refurbish the Little Free Library at the McDonough County YMCA. The students were then invited to create a chapter display at the convention to showcase their work.

For more information about the WIU Department of English, visit

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