Student Awards and Achievements Spring 2023

Submitted by Henry J Laufenberg on

There is much to impress in this rendition of English Matters roundup of the English Department student awards and achievements, but perhaps most remarkable are the depth and breadth of ways in which our students are succeeding.  From publications in journals venerable and brand new; to campus-wide, national and international awards; to novels and memoires; to contemporary arts curation - our students thrive regardless of the waters upon which they choose to navigate.

One of the major reasons our students can explore so broadly and confidently is the support of many alumni and other members of our broader community.  Your support is positively instrumental in helping our students confidently find their professional passions and voices.  For this we give our heartfelt thanks!  We invite our readers to visit the English Department support page and explore many and various helpful ways to make a difference for our students. Thank you!  And now on with the accolades.


Let’s start out with some amazing news -- Matthew Poland's dissertation The Global Migrations of George Eliot and Charles Dickens: Books, Newspapers, Archives has been selected for the Graduate School’s Distinguished Dissertation Award. Campus-wide graduate school awards are highly competitive, so this award is clear testament to the quality of Matt's research. Along with being featured on the Graduate School’s homepage, Dr. Poland received an honorarium of $1,000.

Congratulations, Matt!  And thank you to Professors Charles LaPorte, Jesse Oak Taylor, and Jeffrey Todd Knight for their work in supervising and nominating the dissertation.


E.J. Koh
Perennially-laureled graduate student E. J. Koh was awarded the Literature Translation Institute of Korea's 2022 Translation Grand Prize for her translation of Yi Won's poetry collection The World's Lightest Motorcycle. Read all about it in The Korea Times.  You can also watch video of poet Yi Won and translators Koh and Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello read from and discuss these poems and their translation: Contemporary Poetry of South Korea; A Rain Taxi Event.

E.J. Koh also received the 2022 Artistic Achievement Award from the Korean American Coalition of Washington. And most recently has been selected as one of the 2022-23 graduate Dean’s Medalists, one of the most distinguished honors bestowed on graduate students. 

Koh's debut novel The Liberators -- “ a sweeping story about a Korean family changed by the inheritance of past decisions made in love and war” -- is now available for pre-order. The novel will be out from Tin House Books on November 7, 2023.  From the publisher:

From the Gwangju Massacre to the 1988 Olympics, flashbacks to Korean repatriation after Japanese surrender, and the Sewol Ferry accident, E. J. Koh’s exquisitely drawn portraits and symphonic testimony from guards, prisoners, perpetrators, and liberators spans continents and four generations of two Korean families forever changed by fateful past decisions made in love and war. Extraordinarily beautiful and deeply moving, The Liberators is an elegantly wrought family saga of memory, trauma, and empathy, and a stunning testament to the consequences and fortunes of inheritance.

Lastly, and perhaps most impressively, Koh is a 2023 National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellow. Expressing what this award means to her, Koh displays her usual eloquence in her personal statement on the NEA award webpage:

After hanging up the call with news of support by the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Creative Writing, I had to translate for my mother what it was and not only what it meant to me but what it meant to her. I was not prepared, but I found these words in Korean: “It’s something that makes sure you don’t have to worry about me. It means your daughter can speak and be heard. And for you it means that our stories, you and me, we can be part of the world.” I am grateful to everyone at the NEA for the support of the grant at this time. This award has transformed the work I must do toward new ways of seeing and being together in the world.

Congratulations on all these fine achievements E.J.!


Ally Ang is also a 2023 National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellow!  Major congratulations!  It’s nearly impossible to overstate the prestige or impact of this remarkably well-funded fellowship, but Ang’s words from their NEA personal statement do it some justice:

When I got the call saying that I’d received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, my first thought was that it was some kind of elaborate prank. My second thought was, “Take that, impostor syndrome!” My third thought was that it was definitely an elaborate prank. While receiving the NEA Fellowship did not magically cure my impostor syndrome, it has given me the support and resources I need to finish my first full-length poetry collection, a project that I have been working on and agonizing over and dancing/stumbling/crawling towards for more than three years. During that time, I’ve often questioned why I have devoted so much of myself to something as seemingly self-indulgent as poetry while the world burns around me, but the answer I keep returning to is that poetry has fueled my survival in a way that nothing else has. Poetry has brought me joy, community, pleasure, hope, and now, against all odds, it’s brought me this. To have people believe in me and my work enough to support me in this way means everything to me. Thank you.

Undergraduate student Zoe Mikuta has been selected as one of the 2022-23 Dean’s Medalists. This is one of the most distinguished honors the CAS bestows, and is a highly deserved recognition of Zoe's remarkable achievements as a student, artist, advocate, highly successful author, and respected peer.

Rasheena Fountain (MFA '21 and current PhD student) continues to produce and impress.  In February she facilitated a writing workshop, "Remembering and Reimagining Environmental Histories and Futures" for people of color at the Henry Art Gallery in conversation with Nina Chanel Abney’s exhibition “Fishing Was His Life.”

Fountain's memoir, an extension of her MFA thesis (chaired by Professor Rae Paris) currently titled Touching the Starfish, has been accepted for publication with Chin Music Press with an expected release date of April 2024. You can read Fountain’s related article “Why I Hope Every Child is Urged to Touch the Starfish” here.  Congratulations Rasheena!


English PhD Candidate Brittney Frantece curated a show for Seattle’s SOIL art gallery during February: “Black Invention in 3 Parts brings together literary and visual artists whose works are speculative, surreal, ethereal, and at times dark. They imagine Blackness in the depths of the underworlds, on exoplanets in space, and within a phenomenal Black Hole.”  Congratulations on your continued success in the contemporary art world Brittney!


Nikita Wiileford-Kastrinos has been awarded the Antoinette Wills Endowed Scholarship for the 2023-24 academic year.


Jianfeng He and JohnMorgan Baker have each been awarded the Allan and Mary Kollar Endowed Fellowship for the 2023-24 academic year.


Andreas Bassett has been awarded the 2023-2024 Míċeál F. Vaughan Scholarship.


Anne Duncan and Kexin Song have each received the College of Arts and Sciences Joff Hanauer Award for Excellence in Western Civilization Graduate Fellows.

PhD student Gust Burns has published an article, "Producing subjectivity in the desert: graduate students and first year composition instruction in the productivist university," in the current issue of College Composition & Communication (vol. 74, no. 2), Special section: Forum: Issues about part time and contingent faculty (pp. A1-A9).  Given College Composition & Communication’s contemporary and historical importance, publishing there as a graduate student bodes well.   Congratulations Gust.


Renee Lynch and Professor Suhanthie Motha have published "Epistemological entanglements: Decolonizing understandings of identity and knowledge in English language teaching" in the International Journal of Educational Research's special issue on Decolonizing the Teaching of English in Education. In this piece, the authors draw on ethnographic data from two studies of teacher identity to ask how localized notions of identity and knowledge among English teachers can challenge and reformulate those frequently present in "Global North" education.  Lynch drew heavily on her fieldwork in Tanzania for this article.  Congratulations!


In its inaugural issue, the journal Technical Communication and Social Justice recently published an article from UW English graduate student Joseph Wilson. "Translation's Value to Queer Orientations to Technical Communication: On Claims to Interpretive Authority" has since been downloaded more than 300 times, remarkable popularity for an article in the first issue of a new journal.  Great going Joe!


Usama Lali
One of Usama Lali's (MFA 23) stories is shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2023. His story made it to the top 28 out of 6,642 entries in 11 languages from 54 countries on five continents.  Regional winners are to be announced in late May.  Lali’s story "Khicheenk!" is among six remaining candidates to become the best short story submitted from all of Asia.  Fingers crossed.  Congrats Usama!


Micaela Chavez's master's essay “‘Judge whether she is worth a regret!’: The Role of Remorse in the Judgment of Victorian Fallen Women” has been selected for the Hallien Johnson Memorial Prize in Women and Literary Study.  Congratulations Micaela!


Undergraduate student Julia Park won Grand Prize in the Upper Division Non-Thesis category of the UW Library Research Award for Undergraduates for her paper “Scars, Silence, and Speculations: The Communication of Pain in Narratives of Enslaved Women.”


Simpson Center Awards

English Matters is happy to report that along with some English department faculty, our graduate students have claimed their usual out-sized slice of UW Simpson Center for the Humanities fellowship and grant pie:

Professor Cristina Sánchez-Martín and PhD student Taiko Aoki-Marcial have been awarded a Digital Humanities Summer Fellowship for their collaborative work on Multilingual "translationships" and digital storytelling with local communities.

Jennifer Baker and Kelly Clemen have been awarded a Barclay Simpson Scholars in Public Fellowship in support of work on “Introduction to Feminist Social Cultural Theory: A Video Series” (faculty mentors: Doug Ishii and Stephanie Clare).

Andreas P. Bassett has been awarded a Society of Scholars Summer fellowship to support work on "The Purchase of Playbooks: Shopping for Drama and Book Buying in Early Modern England" (faculty mentor: Jeff Knight).

Megan Butler has been awarded a Barclay Simpson Scholars in Public Fellowship in support of work on “Discovering the Disconnect: Assessing Need Beyond Need for Refugees and New Immigrants” (faculty mentor: Eva Cherniavsky).

Rasheena Fountain has been awarded a Barclay Simpson Scholars in Public Fellowship in support of work on “Sustaining for Us” (faculty mentor: Stephanie Clare).

Alex Meany has been awarded a Society of Scholars Summer fellowship to support work on "Post-war U.S. Urban Literatures and Geographies of Violence" (faculty mentor: Alys Weinbaum).

Reuven Pinnata has been awarded a Society of Scholars fellowship to support work on "Troubling Inheritances: On World Literature as Indonesian Literature" (faculty mentor: Gillian Harkins).

English Matters could not be happier to announce that undergraduate KC Canniff's English 299 research paper, "Synesthesia: How Neurodivergence Can Help Inform More Inclusive Pedagogical Practices," was recently selected for publication in UW's Process.  KC Canniff is mother to three kids and a biology student at University of Washington. Her previous life experience includes a thirteen-year career in healthcare, ten years as an adult educator, and six years as a Girl Scout leader. A first-generation college student, completing her bachelor’s degree has been a lifelong goal. Congrats, KC!


Finally, we’d like to congratulate all recipients of English Department endowed awards.  Well done!  And of course a hearty thank you to all of the people who have gifted us with funding to make these awards possible – we are beyond grateful for your support.

English Department Awards and Prizes

Graduate (2022-23)

Angel Garduño won the Joan Webber Teaching Award, with Alycia Gilbert and Alexandra Meany named as honorable mentions.

Sikose Mjali won the Richard Dunn First Year Teaching Award, with Andres Ayala-Patlan and Maggie Gruenwald named as honorable mentions.

Sarah Moore and Sanjit Pradhananga--Matthew and Maria Proser Endowed Fellowship in English

Alec Fisher, Brittney Frantece, Patrick McGowan, and Alycia Gilbert--Donna Gerstenberger Fellowship

Alexandra Meany, Reuven Pinnata, and Joseph Wilson--Phyllis F. and Donald E. Dorset Dissertation Fellowship

Barkley (Nolie) Ramsey--Robert R. and Mary Waltz Dissertation Fellowship

Francesca Colonnese--Susannah J. McMurphy Dissertation Fellowship

Ariel Sepulveda and Brianna Patane--Padelford Endowed Fellowship

Dorian Alexander, JohnMorgan Baker, Avu Chaturvedi, Francesca Colonnese, Anne Duncan, Kathleen Escarcha, Rasheena Fountain, Angel Garduño, Sanjit Pradhananga, and Rebecca Taylor--Hilen Summer 2022 Research Award


Adam Briejer - Tia Vall-Spinosa Sullivan Scholarship

Joelle Cook - Edward Cox Scholarship

Elana Fischer - Peter Thorpe Scholarship

Olivia Frost - Gamma Phi Beta Scholarship

Olivia Frost - John Kimball Woolley Scholarship

Maizy Green - Argentina Daley Endowed Fund

Maizy Green - John Kimball Woolley Scholarship

Ian Holombo - Robert Heilman Scholarship

Emma Hong - Eilert Anderson Scholarship

Danielle Hunter - John Kimball Woolley Scholarship

Dylan Jennings – Hilen Essay Prize

Clara Kehoe - John Kimball Woolley Scholarship

Danika Kwak - Lucky Budd Waller Scholarship

Marek Magana - Kollar Endowed Scholarship in English

Marek Magana - John Kimball Woolley Scholarship

Wanjiru Mwasi - John Kimball Woolley Scholarship

Cassandra Pascual – Kathryn H. Reummler Scholarship

Daisy Schreiber - Roger Sale Scholarship

Xinlei Wang - Charles H. Krysieniel Scholarship

Rachel Zuraek – Honors Thesis Prize

 Creative Writing Awards and Prizes

Niccolo Bechtler - Joan Grayston Poetry Prize

Katie Brackman - Edith K Draham Scholarship

Hannah Forbes - Eugene Van Buren Prize for Fiction

Simon Graham - Eugene Van Buren Prize for Fiction

Jared Jones - Nelson Bentley MFA Award in Creative Writing

Usama Lali - David Guterson Award

Sanjana Ramesh - Nelson Bentley MFA Award in Creative Writing

Sidney Rogers - Arthur Oberg Award for Poetry 

Daisy Schreiber - Joan Grayston Poetry Prize

Liv Vessenes - Charlotte Paul Reese Fiction Award 

Rachael Marie Walker - Grace Milliman Pollock Scholarship for Creative Writing

Laurel Wilkinson - Academy of American Poets Prize