Student Awards

For more information on student awards, please contact the chair of the Faculty Student Committee.

Dr. Charles A. Messner Scholarship Fund

Eligibile candidates must:

  • Be enrolled full-time
  • Be an undergraduate student at SUNY Buffalo State for the upcoming fall semester
  • Be an incoming freshman with a declared major in the humanities
  • Demonstrate financial need as defined by Buffalo State 

Applications for the Messner are now available without having to access them through the CAPS system.

Dr. Joan Rosso Award
2018 Munirah Ali
2016 Nathan Stolte
2012 Sonja Bienas
2011 Kerry Collins
2010 Tyler Johnson

Professor Arthur L. Bradford Award
Will be awarded to a SUNY Buffalo State junior or senior who demonstrate excellence in achievement in course work related to Shakespearean or English/British literature studies, as evidenced by overall GPA in the major. Applicants must have an original essay prepared as part of the required course work in one of your Shakespeare or English/British literature courses available for review by the award selection committee.  In the event the selection committee finds more than one candidate who is worthy of the scholarship, financial need shall be considered, in which case applicants will be asked to supply a statement about their financial need.

2018 Clayton Pitcher
2017 Lillian Inglut
2016 Kayleigh Smith
2015 Susan Blake
2014 Felicia DeLibero
2013 Laura Wood
2012 Ashley Bennett
2010 Devon Cozad

Bard Cappella Academic Award for Applied Literacy
This award is given to SUNY Buffalo State English Education students to support and encourage meaningful student-run projects that improve the literacy development of young people across our region and throughout the world. Potential applicants for this award are strongly advised to consult with a member of the faculty in preparing their application. To apply for this award, students submit a written description of their project along with the name of a faculty reference. Applicants may be asked to interview with the Awards committee.

2018 Matthew Bonn
2018 Simmone Johnson
2018 Sarah Turnbull
2017 Matt Hahn
2017 Tim Lipps
2017 Mary Grace Sileo
2016 Karina Severino
2016 Petrina Scaglione
2016 Spencer Miliotto
2015 Ashley Weselak
2015 Vanessa Ludwig
2015 Rene Bonilla

Laurence Shine Research Fellowship
2016 Jessica Phillips
“Irish Modernism”

2016 Jonathan Dempsey
“Sinn Fein and WNY American Irish Contributions to the IRA”

2015 Susan Blake
“To Grow a Right Rose Tree:  1916 and the Sacrificial Alternative to World War.”

James J. Morris, Jr. Scholarship

Eligible candidates must:

  • Have a declared major in the English Department
  • Have demonstrated talent, continuing academic success, and excellent progress in their specialized area of research/creative endeavor, as determined by the English faculty
  • Have at least two more semesters remaining at Buffalo State after the current semester

Applicants are asked to submit a one-page letter that explains why they meet the criteria of the award, listing at least one faculty member as a reference, and also submit a writing sample at least six pages in length.

2017 Nathanael Stolte
2016 Catherine Morse
2010 Michael Beck

Estelle M. Engel Memorial Award

Eligible candidates must:

  • Be a full-time, undergraduate students at Buffalo State with a declared major in English Department, Communication Department or Television and Film Arts Program
  • Have completed at least 45 semester hours at BSC
  • Have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher

The application process includes an essay on life goals, writing samples, and a letter of endorsement from a faculty member in your department. The scholarship is awarded annually in the spring semester. Spring semester disbursement.

2018 Nathanael Stolte
2013 Amanda Pratt
2012 Erik Wahlstrom

Lauren Belfer Scholarship
2010 Cynthia Delaney

Robert Budin Award
2015 Nasirah Wilson

Marie Dellas Creative Achievement Award
2012 Erik Wahlstrom

SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence
2014 Timea Kernacova
2013 Amanda Pratt
2012 Devon Cozad
2010 Angela Lambrix

Buffalo State President’s Award
2014 Timea Kernacova

Dean of Arts and Humanities Award for Excellence
2018 Andrew Butt
2017 Tiffany Bassett
2016 Carolyn Baldwin
2015 Tamara Burross
2014 Rachael Saathoff
2013 Cynthia Delaney
2012 Devon Cozad
2011 Kelsey Till
2010 Angela Lambrix

The English Department offers several graduation awards for both undergraduate and graduate students, as well a number of department awards that recognize excellence in a variety of ways. Awardees are nominated by a faculty member.

English Department Award for Excellence in English
2018 Hayley Hoerner
2017 Michael Rickard
2016 Katharine Brown
2015 Heather Chrosniak
2014 Laura Wood
2013 Ashley Bennett
2012 Isabel Ortiz-Garrett
2011 Donna Yaeger
2010 Daniel Graham
2010 Tom Poehnelt

English Department Award for Excellence in English Education
2018 Spencer Miliotto
2018 Lillian Inglut
2017 Karina Love
2016 William O’Neil-White
2016 Vanessa Ludwig
2015 Alyssa Moretti
2014 Timea Kernacova
2013 Heidi Wallace
2013 Sarah Miller
2012 Fredia Hart-Cowart
2011 Kyle Botkins

English Department Award for Excellence in Writing
2017 Kaitlin Scirri
2014 Moira Madden
2013 Amanda Pratt
2012 Anthony Harrington
2011 Brian Pietrus

English Department Award for Excellence Master of Arts
2018 Alissa Kowalski 
2016 Maureen Porter
2016 Meghan Clough
2015 Stacy Creech
2014 Emmanuel Abreu
2013 Joelle Mann
2012 Joseph Noah
2011 Lori Ann Woods
2010 John Aramini
2010 Melissa Martinelli

English Department Award for Excellence Master of Science in Education
2018 Christina Ward
2017 William O'Neil-White
2016 Vanessa Ludwig
2015 Chelsey Nabozny
2014 Sára Kovásci
2013 Joanna Reed
2011 Sara Galda
2010 Colleen DeLucia

English Department Award for Excellence Post-Baccalaureate
2018 Kevin Arnold
2017 Mary Grace Sileo
2016 Courtney Nydahl
2014 Sarah-Jane Calvaneso
2013 Timothy Lipps
2012 Laura Hervey
2010 Peter Bennett

English Department Award for Excellence Undergraduate Essay about Poetry
2016 Leiah Jetter
2015 Annalise Stark

English Department Award for Excellence Graduate Essay
2016 Meghan Clough
2016 Megan Knodt
2015 Anthony DiGesare

2016 Anthony DiGesare: "Confining Country, Confining City: Real Imaginary Places in the Work of Sam Selvon"

2015 Timothy Collins: "Rap Aesthetics and the Postmodern Imaginary"

2015 April O’Brien: "Renegotiating Faith and Sexuality in The Color Purple and Angels in America"

2014 Heidi Wallace: "Sound and Image in the Poetry of Stevens"

2014 Joelle Mann: "Virginia Woolf, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Hilda"

2012 Caitlin Hogan-Lazar: "Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children"

2010 Salvatore Sedita: "Hawthorne’s The House of Seven Gables"

2009 Christine Fina: "See the Underachieving Boy in High School"

2007 David Shapiro-Zysk: "Philosophy in the Writings of Mark Twain"

2006 Deborah Martin: "A (Third) “Place in Which Something Has Occurred”: Conflict and Negotiation in Nadine Gordimer’s Fiction"

Students in the English Department have been active participants in the Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship, a competitive fellowship program that allows students to work on full-time research under the guidance of a faculty member. Students present their work annually at the Student Research and Creativity Conference that is held each spring.

Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship Program  


Adrianna Aviles, Writing & Business Administration
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Michele Ninacs, English

Cultural Rhetorics within the Field of CompositionAdrianna is a senior pursuing a dual-degree: a Bachelor of Arts in Writing, a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing, and a minor in Literary Studies. After graduating in spring 2020, she will enter the M.A. program in Critical Studies in Literacy and Pedagogy at Michigan State University with an Academic Achievement Graduate Assistantships (AAGA) fellowship, which is awarded by MSU to 75 Masters or Ph.D. candidates throughout the institution. She plans to continue her studies in a Ph.D. program.

During her fellowship, Adrianna explored cultural rhetorics and its connection with language. As someone who has loved writing but not in the creative form, Adrianna was introduced to the field of Composition and Rhetorics by her advisor. As a Latina, she is aware that Standard American English practices can be both implicitly and explicitly racist and by extension can disenfranchise minority communities. Her study examined the role of cultural rhetorics and its association with writing pedagogy, by analyzing the responses of scholars in the field to a series of questions that asked them to consider the position of cultural rhetorics in relation to composition studies and pedagogies.

Nicholas Boyer, Philosophy & English
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Lorna Perez, English

Confronting the Sins of Our Fathers: Black Women’s Speculative Fiction
Nicholas is a double-major in Philosophy and English who expects to graduate in spring 2020. After six years of active duty in the USAF, Nicholas left military service in order to seek a more peaceful way of serving the world and those who occupy it, by decreasing violence and the oppression of Others. He will continue on to graduate school with plans of seeking his Ph.D.

As a fan of sci-fi and fantasy novels, Nicholas spent his fellowship researching Black Speculative Fiction. His work examines Octavia Butler’s Kindred alongside Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring. While Kindred uses devices of time travel to reveal the ways that the past always intrudes upon the present, Brown Girl in the Ring is set in a dystopic near future, in an urban Toronto devastated by poverty, white flight, addiction, and violence. In the midst of this, the characters use the powers of the spirituality, rooted in African diasporic experiences, to resist and survive in an urban wasteland. In both, young black female protagonists are forced to confront, literally and figuratively, the violence of their forefathers, and conquer them in order to ensure their own survival. Nicholas’s research examines these battles with the past, and with the patriarchal figures in the novel, using thinkers like Franz Fanon, Toni Morrison, Ytasha L. Womack, Reynaldo Anderson and Charles E. Jones, and André M. Carrington, among others.

Kenneth Kelly, English
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Macy Todd, English

Furthering a Distinctive Definition for Afrocentricity and Pan-Afro Thought
Kenneth is a senior majoring in English and expecting to graduate in the spring of 2020. His focus has primarily been in studies of Caribbean Literature, Afrocentric Thought, and African rooted folk tales. Upon completion of his Bachelor’s degree, he will pursue a Master’s degree at the University of Chicago and intends to complete his academic career with a Ph.D. in English.

During his research, Ken found clear parallels between southern African American, Bahamian, and Yoruban folktales. These indicate social and cultural connectors that further unify Afrocentric thinkers, those who subscribe to Pan-Afro thought, and Black individuals whose cultural and ethnic heritage are rooted in African tradition. Through studying folklorist and nineteenth-century poets, Kenneth found specific methods within their records and poems that highlight oppressive Eurocentric literary functions. His research revealed how concepts of Pan-Afro thought can be utilized within varying Eurocentric institutions to give agency and provide unity amongst Black individuals and underrepresented peoples who exist within them. He intends to propose his work for publication.

Marisa Marinelli: English and Philosophy
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Jason Grinnell, Philosophy

Rawls & Racial Injustice
Marisa is a December 2019 Buffalo State graduate who majored in English and Philosophy. She is currently taking a gap year to decide whether to continue on to graduate school in one of the two disciplines, or to pursue law school.

During her fellowship, Marisa read and wrote extensively on different theories of justice and their real-world implications in the United States. She discovered that the application of John Rawls’ theory can be helpful in pointing out racial injustices present in fundamental aspects of the American criminal justice system today.

Marisa has an academic paper pending on her research on theory and practice in institutional policy in the United States.


Bianca Gonzalez, Philosophy and English
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Lorna Perez, English

The Fluidity of the Diasporic Identity in Rosario Ferre’s The House on the Lagoon
Bianca Gonzalez is a junior Philosophy and English Major. Bianca is a current George T. Hole Scholar, an EOP mentor, and a former McNair Scholar. Wildly curious, Bianca’s academic interests include postcolonialism, critical race studies, Latino studies, logic, mathematics, and coding. Bianca’s paper argues for reading The House on the Lagoon in light of the symbolic fluidity that is present throughout the novel. She argues that fluidity as a recurring motif in the novel represents both the cultural fluidity of the Puerto Rican diaspora, and the embodied racial fluidity of the character Willie Mendizbal. The paper contends that fluidity act as a force that is contrary to hierarchical structures of race and class that are ultimately unsustainable in the novel. Bianca presented her paper at the 4th Biennial Latinx Literature, Theory, and Criticism Conference in New York City this past April.

Jessa Matteson, English
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Tim Bryant, English

The Discovery Doctrine: Historical Influences and Literary Implications
Jessa Matteson is an English B.A. interested in Native American literature, the history of religion, and creative writing. Her project focused on the history of the Discovery Doctrine, its application through case law and social practices, and evidence of its influence in contemporary Native American literature. Her research findings show the long-term historical and social influence of the Doctrine on governmental practices, cultural attitudes, and media depictions that impact Native American peoples and their literature. Since graduating in December 2018, Jessa has begun work in social services in Albany, NY.

Ja’Quona Renfro, English Education
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Jevon D. Hunter, School of Education

The English Language Arts Educational Counter-Stories of Buffalo’s Black Youth
Ja’Quona Renfro graduates in May 2019 with a B.S. in English Education. Ja’Quona intends to pursue both her Master’s degree and Ph.D. after spending time in the classroom as a 7-12 English teacher in Buffalo, NY.

Ja’Quona conducted qualitative research on the English language arts (ELA) experiences of African-American youth attending school in Buffalo, New York. Her work captures the counter- stories, a major tenet from Critical Race Theory, of our young people as a way of challenging pejorative, dominant narratives of Black adolescents. Her findings suggest that African-American youth in Buffalo regularly experience marginalization in classrooms either through curriculum or instruction. Further, her research notes that Black adolescents have productive ideas for ELA teachers to consider for making the curriculum and their instruction more inclusive. Recently, she presented her research at the 2018 Professional Development Schools (PDS) Consortium Retreat host by SUNY Buffalo State and looks forward to building on her collective efforts.


Dan Schleyer, English
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Christopher Shively, Elementary Education and Reading

From Camp Counselor to Teacher: Inferring Dispositions From Narratives
Dan Schleyer is an English education major and will graduate in December 2018. Dan will be pursuing a teaching job and opportunities to work with students in various art programs. Dan’s qualitative research study examined a collection of narratives told by five veteran teachers. Thinking dispositions were inferred from the narratives and one common disposition emerged. Dan was able to identify the degrees of the disposition: teachers care about the dignity and worth of every person.

Julio Valentin, English
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Barish Ali, English

Latin@ Poet on the Road
Julio Valentin is an English major. After graduation he plans to go on to graduate school for English or Creative Writing. Julio Valentin is an English major with an anticipated graduation date of December 2018. After graduation he plans to go on to graduate school for English or Creative Writing. Julio embarked on a poetry tour to help him understand the perception of Latino poets in disparate parts of the United States. Julio found that Latino poets experienced similar themes of systematic oppression and racism and misunderstanding. Based on his experiences, Julio is planning to organize various Latin@ writers groups and a poetry commune to develop their voices as writers.


Jillian Custodi, English
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Lorna Perez, English

The Postcolonial Feminine: Power and the Periphery in Wide Sargasso Sea
Jillian Custodi is an English major with a minor in Sociology. She will graduate with her B.A. in May 2017, after which she plans to pursue graduate study in English. Jillian’s work looked at Jean Rhy’s Wide Sargasso Sea, a famous re-contextualization of Charlotte Bronte’s classic British novel Jane Eyre. Jillian used an intersectional theoretical framework drawn from postcolonialism, feminism, and critical race studies to highlight how Antoinette Cosway, the novel’s main protagonist, occupies simultaneous positions of privilege and marginalization. Jillian presented her research at the Race and Social Justice conference in February 2017, hosted by Buffalo State.

Jude Lester, Arts and Letters
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Aimee Levesque, English

Writers Get Digital: Discovering New Tools for Writers in the Digital Age
Jude Lester is an Arts and Letters major with a concentration in English, who is graduating in Spring 2017. He would like to pursue a career in writing after college. Jude researched the trade and self-publishing industry. Jude then attended the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City, where he went to workshops run by writers, editors, and publishers who work in the industry. Jude also informally met with publishers from across the United States to discuss their current publishing practices. Upon completion of the conference, Jude continued his research and concluded that the advent of digital publishing and social media has given the writer a much more active role in selling their work, and also, that success in publishing lies in the
writer’s ability to sell their work through these means.

Clayton Pitcher, Philosophy and English
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Aimable Twagilimana, English

Learning to Wait: Reading, Writing, and Individuation
Clayton Pitcher is a double major in English and Philosophy. He plans to attend graduate school and hopes to become a college professor. Drawing upon the work of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, Clayton explored the concept of “waiting” in the work of Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, especially his seminal novel Kafka on the Shore. Clayton’s work defines “waiting” as an active, creative, and expansive force and offers it as a critical perspective to read Murakami’s fiction.


Alexandra Asenjo, English
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Barish Ali, English

Modern Theory for a Modern Age: A Contemporary Approach to Navigating Social Media StormsAlexandra Asenjo is an English major graduating with a B.A. degree in December 2015. She plans on gaining more writing experience working at an internship and attending graduate school. Alexandra’s research investigated how language functions in social media storms by applying several prevailing contemporary theories by Michel Foucault to the storm #Gamergate. By implementing theories of authorship and discourse from Foucault, her project gained insight into how language is used online. Alexandra identified three key factors that influence language to social media storms and demonstrated the importance of utilizing contemporary theory

Catherine Morse, English
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Aimee Levesque, English

Bringing Jane Austen into the YouTube Age
Catherine Morse is graduating in Spring 2017 with a B.A. in English. She plans to attend graduate school at the University at Buffalo in the area of Library and Information Studies. Catherine’s research explored the Jane Austen novels Emma and Pride and Prejudice alongside their contemporary webseries counterparts Emma Approved and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Throughout her research, Catherine learned of the academic and literary merit of the webseries. She learned the differences when Jane Austen’s novels went from printed page to online webseries. Catherine plans to submit her work at regional and national literary conferences.


Felicia DeLibero, English
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Lisa Berglund, Arts and Humanities

Shakespeare’s Audiences – “Henry V” at the Globe Theatre, on Film, and in Delaware Park
Felicia DeLibero is an English major concentrating on British Literature. She is graduating with a B.A. in May 2015, after which she plans to attend graduate school. Felicia hopes to earn a Ph.D. and teach at a college or university. Felicia worked with the Shakespeare in Delaware Park team, designing, distributing and processing a two-tiered survey of the audiences who attended this summer’s production of “Henry V.” She examined the play’s performance history, studying films of five productions and focusing on the affiliations theater has with literature, as well as interpreting how different productions present separate views of patriotism and war. Shakespeare in Delaware Park is using these data to develop audience outreach programs for its upcoming 40th anniversary season.


Rachael Saathoff, English Education
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Jason Grinnell, Philosophy

Classical and Multicultural Approaches to Education
Rachael Saathoff is an English Education major with a minor in Philosophy. She will graduate with a B.S. in May 2014, after which she plans to attend graduate school. Eventually, she would like to teach professionally either at the high school or college level, as well as continue her academic research. Rachael researched the history, philosophy, and pedagogy of two separate educational approaches: classical and multicultural. She also examined the history of philosophy of education. Her work focused on each approach’s thoughts on the role of the teacher, the nature of learning, and views of child development. Rachael has begun working on a presentation and paper version of her findings, and plans to present or publish the results of her research. Rachael represented Buffalo State at the SUNY-wide “Innovative Exploration Forum: Undergraduate Research” held in the Legislative Office Building in Albany on April 1, 2014.


Devon Cozad, English
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Lisa Berglund, English

Franchised Folklore: Exploring Beauty and the Beast In Modern America
Devon will graduate with a B.A. in English literature in May 2012. Afterward, she plans to pursue a doctoral degree and hopes to become a college professor. For her project, Devon explored how modern America understands the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast.” After examining the history of the tale and its recent adaptations, Devon is now pursuing the connection between modern media adaptations and associated physical merchandise. This connection she has called “franchised folklore,” arguing that while we continue telling the tale of “Beauty and the Beast,” modern readers also want an actual piece of the story to carry with us always.

Amy Widman, English Education
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Aimable Twagilimana, English

Fictionalizing Resistance: Scheherazade and Her Reincarnation in the Modern Arab Novel
Amy is an English Education major and will graduate in May 2012. After graduating, she plans to pursue a Master’s degree in English at Buffalo State and eventually a Ph.D. Amy’s research consisted of a critical investigation focusing on two literary texts, Arabian Nights (One Thousand and One Nights) and Tayeb Salih’s novel Season of Migration to the North. She argued that women, facing a very oppressive patriarchal regime, adroitly used fictionalization (storytelling) as an indirect strategy of resistance to abrogate victimization. Specifically, she looked at how women in contemporary literature continue to display Scheherazade’s strategy using the example of Sudanese writer Tayeb Salih in his novel Season of Migration to the North. Using feminist theory and concepts from Orientalism, her research focused on how two women deal with male repressive practices.


Tom Poehnelt, English
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Lorna Perez, English

If You Can’t Speak the Language: The Location of Identity in Native Speaker
Tom Poehnelt received his B.A. in English in December 2009. He plans to pursue graduate study in literature. His research interests focus on ethnic literatures in the United States, particularly in relation to critical theorizations of identity and power. For his project, Tom focused on what it means to theorize a hybrid Asian identity within the context of dominant American culture. By critically examining Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker, Tom concluded that it is only through the acceptance of a borderland and hybrid identity that the protagonist of the text is finally able to come to terms with both the beauty and contradiction of being Asian-American and moreover, Asian in America.

Kelsey Till, English Education
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Lisa Berglund, English

Forgery of Oscar Wilde’s Letters: Reprehensible Deception or Criminal Aestheticism?
Kelsey Till is majoring in English Education and minoring in Psychology. She plans to graduate in May 2011 and to attend graduate school. Kelsey studied the collection of Oscar Wilde material housed at the University at Buffalo. She focused on letters to and from Wilde that included four known forgeries. After studying the faked letters in the context of nineteenth-century British notions of forgery, Kelsey concluded that three of the forgeries may have been crafted by Arthur Cravan, a known forger of Wilde documents. Her research explains why Cravan might have forged the letters, and concludes that forgery is more of a “criminal aesthetic” than a “reprehensible deception.” Kelsey plans to submit her research to Book History, an annual refereed journal.


Robert Turley, English
Faculty Mentor:
Professor Lisa Berglund, English

Louis Zukofsky and “Objectivist” Poetics
Robert is working on a B.A. in English, and will graduate in 2009. After graduation, he plans to further his education until he is able to teach in the college setting; his immediate plans include furthering the dissection of Zukofsky’s career, and a never-ending survey of Modernist poetry and literature. Robert’s project entailed a study of a small portion of the Lockwood Memorial Library at the University at Buffalo, which holds dear a remarkable collection of Louis Zukofsky’s written correspondence with authors and publishers of his time. Robert spent much of the summer studying this collection, in an attempt to evaluate the patterns of change and dynamic continuity in the author’s writing over time.