Hollins Receives State Department IDEAS Grant to Fund Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives in Study Abroad

Hollins University is one of 44 colleges and universities across the United States selected to receive funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students (IDEAS) Program.

The schools will use the IDEAS grants to create, expand, and/or diversify American student mobility overseas in support of U.S. foreign policy goals. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and supported in its implementation by World Learning.

“We are thrilled that Hollins is a 2022 IDEAS grantee, and this was a true team effort between faculty and staff,” said Ramona Kirsch, Hollins University’s director of international programs. “The grant will fund a new program, “Building Capacity in Kenya and Expanding Student Access to Global Experiences,” which will focus on democracy, human rights, and global health from an interdisciplinary and intercultural perspective with our new international partner, Kenyatta University in Nairobi. The grant will also enable us to move strategic diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives forward in our study abroad programming.”

Each IDEAS grant carries a maximum allotment of $35,000 and Hollins was awarded approximately $34,800.

“The U.S. Department of State is committed to supporting U.S. colleges and universities as they continue to rebuild study abroad capacity impacted by the global pandemic,” said Heidi Manley, USA study abroad chief for the department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). “That is why ECA is proud to be awarding double the number of IDEAS grants this year so that we can support more institutions as they work to provide important international educational opportunities to their students.”

Manley added that this year’s IDEAS grant recipients “reflect the full diversity of the U.S. higher education system – including community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), rural institutions, and more – and we are committed to working with them to build study abroad programs that are accessible for Americans of all backgrounds and that provide more opportunities for American students to engage with people in more diverse destinations around the world.”

Since 2016, the IDEAS Program has awarded 145 grants to 139 institutions in 48 states and territories to create, expand, and diversify their U.S. study abroad programs in 71 countries across all world regions. In addition to the IDEAS grant competition, the program also offers opportunities for faculty, staff, and administrators at U.S. colleges and universities to participate in a series of free virtual and in-person study abroad capacity building activities.

For more information about other study abroad resources and exchange programs offered by ECA, visit https://studyabroad.state.gov/.

Photo (from left to right): Assistant Professor of Sociology Jennifer Turner, Assistant Professor of Public Health Abubakarr Jalloh, Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Isabell Kingori, and Director of International Programs Ramona Kirsch comprised the faculty/staff team at Hollins that successfully brought the IDEAS grant application to fruition.

“Academics Are The Priority”: “Fiske Guide to Colleges” Praises Hollins In 2023 Edition

Hollins University is one of the more than 300 “best and most interesting” colleges in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, according to the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2023, published July 19.

The Fiske Guide selects colleges and universities for inclusion “with several broad principles in mind, beginning with academic quality. In addition, an effort was made to achieve geography diversity and a balance of public and private schools. Finally, we exercised the journalist’s prerogative of writing about schools that are simply interesting.”

Hollins is featured by the Fiske Guide among the nation’s small colleges and universities that are “Strong in Film/Television,” “Strong in Dance,” and “Strong in Performing Arts/Drama,” and considers the university “one of the South’s leading women’s colleges.” The guide notes that “academics are the priority at Hollins,” and students quoted in the university’s profile praise the professors (“We get lots of individual attention and extra help.”), residence halls (“Most of the dorms are beautiful historic buildings full of character and comfort.”), and the overall campus environment (“A student should only attend Hollins if they want to be part of a close-knit community that fosters creative minds and ambitious spirits.”).

The guide concludes, “Students leave [Hollins] with confidence, critical-thinking skills, and intellectual depth, thanks to a solid grounding in the liberal arts.”

Now in its 39th edition, the Fiske Guide is updated and expanded each year. It is co-written by former New York Times education editor Edward B. Fiske.


Children’s Literature and Children’s Book Illustration Faculty and Alumni Authors Celebrate Banner Year for Publishing

Hollins University’s graduate programs in children’s literature and children’s book illustration are applauding what director Lisa Rowe Fraustino called “a true bounty of books published this year by our faculty and program graduates.”

Thirteen faculty and/or alumni authors enjoyed book launches or the issuing of new versions of their books. “It’s inspiring,” Fraustino noted. “There are close to 30 books to celebrate from Hollins folks in 2022.”

Here’s a list of the books published this year by the authors who have taught and/or graduated from the children’s literature and children’s book illustration programs at Hollins, as researched and compiled by  Visiting Associate Professor Hillary Homzie:

Brian AtteberyBrian Attebery Book Cover

The author of four books and numerous articles on fantasy and science fiction, Attebery has penned what has been described as “an exciting and accessible study of the genre of fantasy.” Fantasy: How It Works “addresses two central questions about fantastic storytelling: first, how can it be meaningful if it doesn’t claim to represent things as they are, and second, what kind of change can it make in the world?” The author explores facets of fantastic world-building and story creation in classic and contemporary fantasy, and looks at how prominent fantasy writers test new ways of understanding and interaction to reexamine political institutions, social practices, and models of reality.


Dhonielle Clayton Book CoverDhonielle Clayton

Clayton, the New York Times bestselling author of The Belles series and co-author of the Tiny Pretty Things duology, a Netflix original series, has written her middle grade fantasy debut, The Marvellers. Eleven-year-old conjuror Ella Durand enrolls at the Arcanum Training Institute, a magic school in the clouds where Marvellers from around the world practice their cultural arts, like brewing Indian spice elixirs and bartering with Irish pixies. “The Marvellers deserves the highest compliment I can give a book: I want to live in this world,” said Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, while Angie Thomas, whose books include The Hate U Give and Concrete Rose, called The Marvellers “a marvelous gift of a novel.”


Michelle Jabes CorporaMichelle Jabes Corpora Book Cover

The new book by Corpora is The Fog of War: Martha Gellhorn at the D-Day Landings, an installment in the True Adventures series that publishes in the U.S. in September. She also wrote The Dust Bowl (2021), the first book in the American Horse Tales series, and is the ghostwriter of five novels in the Nancy Drew Diaries and Hardy Boys Adventures series. She is currently writing the first book in a new series with Penguin Workshop, Holly Horror, which is scheduled for publication in the fall of 2023. After five years as an assistant editor with Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins), she became an editor with book packager Working Partners, Ltd., where she has been producing concepts for middle grade series fiction for more than a decade.


Christopher Denise Book CoverChristopher Denise

The illustrator of many critically acclaimed books for young readers, including Alison McGhee’s Firefly Hollow, Rosemary Wells’ Following Grandfather, and Brian Jacques’ Redwall series, Denise has been recognized by the Bank Street College of Education, Parents’ Choice Foundation, and the Society of Illustrators. This year, he produced the medieval picture book Knight Owl, in which a determined owl builds strength and confidence. It’s the story about the real mettle of a hero: wits, humor, and heart. Full of wordplay and optimism, Knight Owl, a New York Times bestseller, shows that cleverness and friendship can rule over brawn.


Laurie J. EdwardsLaurie Edwards Book Cover

Edwards, a former teacher and librarian, is a USA Today bestselling author of more than 60 books in print or forthcoming under several pen names. Under her own name, her 2022 releases include four books in the middle grade Unicorns of the Secret Stable series, including Unicorns to the Rescue, Lucky and the Dragon, Magical Unicorn Horns, and Mermaid Magic. As Rachel J. Good, she writes Amish novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness. This year she has produced two novels (An Amish Marriage of Convenience: Surprised by Love and the forthcoming Amish Christmas Treasure), two anthology stories (for the Amish Spring Romance Collection), and will have four novel reprints in the Amish Sisters and Friends series (Change of Heart, Buried Secrets, Gift from Above, and Big-City Amish).


Carrie Gustafson Book CoverCassie Gustafson

Gustafson’s work has earned honors such as the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award, the Shirley Henn Creative Writing Award, and the Ruth Landers Glass Scholarship. Publisher’s Weekly said of her debut novel, After the Ink Dries, “This all-too-believable book will open eyes and start conversations about sexual assault, toxic masculinity, and victim shaming. Her new young adult novel, The Secrets We Keep, follows a girl’s struggle to reconcile friendship, sexual abuse, and the secrets one buries deep inside to survive. The book explores the complex, powerful bonds of friendship and family.


Hillary HomzieHillary Homzie Book Cover

Homzie is the author of many books for children, including the Ellie May chapter books, an SLJ Webcast featured selection, and Queen of Likes, which was optioned by Priority Pictures and is a PJOur Way selection. In her new inspiring and educational picture book about princesses past and present, If You Were a Princess, three girls wonder what it would be like to be princesses themselves. Through the facts and profiles of real-life princesses woven throughout, they become empowered to try and make a difference within their own communities, and discover that anyone can be a princess after all.


EB Lewis Book CoverE.B. Lewis

An award-winning illustrator of over 75 books for children, including Coming on Home Soon (a 2005 Caldecott medal winner), Lewis’ has illustrated the new book Seeking Freedom: The Untold Story of Fortress Monroe and the Ending of Slavery in America by Selene Castrovilla. In this dramatic Civil War Story, a courageous enslaved fugitive teams with a cunning Union general to save a Union fort from the Confederates – and triggers the end of slavery in the United States. This is the first children’s nonfiction book about a Black unsung hero who remains relevant today and to the Black Lives Matter movement.


Rebekah LowellRebekah Lowell Book Cover

Lowell is an author, illustrator, and surface designer with a passion for the natural world. As a survivor of domestic abuse, she has found the outdoors to be healing grounds. Her artwork has been featured on the Maine Duck Stamp five times. Her debut young adult novel in verse, The Road to After, was published this year by Nancy Paulsen Books. This poignant book is a portrait of healing, as a young girl rediscovers life and the soothing power of nature after being freed from her abusive father. Lowell’s debut picture book, Catching Flight, will be published by Doubleday Books for Young Readers in spring 2023.


Candice Ransom Book CoverCandice Ransom

The author of 165 published books, Ransom’s award-winning works include Apple Picking Day!, Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten, and The Big Green Pocketbook. Her newest book, School Day!, is a Step 1 reader (big type and easy words) and features the family from Apple Picking Day! as well as Garden Day!, Snow Day!, and Beach Day! At the start of the new school year, a big sister on her first day of third grade takes time to show her little brother the ropes on his first day of kindergarten, proving it’s great to have a sibling to rely on when starting something new.



Amie Rose RotruckAmie Rose Rotruck Book Cover

Rotruck is featured in the new book, The Seeker’s Guide to Twisted Taverns, which is “A [Dungeons and Dragons] Fifth Edition supplement filled with fantastical premade taverns, inspiring story hooks, and lovable NPCs [Non-Player Characters].” Her contributions are the taverns “Spring of Peace” (a desert oasis), “The Drunken Treasure” (an underwater vessel), “Fungal Grotto” (a giant mushroom staff with sentient fungi), “The Dungeon of Darkness” (filled with all sorts of dark and scary creatures), and “By the Frost” (a Norse mythology inspired tavern).


Ali Standish Book CoverAli Standish

The critically acclaimed author of The Ethan I Was Before, August Isle, How to Disappear Completely, and The Mending Summer, Standish has now written Yonder, a historical fiction middle grade novel about a boy on the home front in World War II who must solve the mystery of the disappearance of his best friend, an adventure that explores what true heroism means. In its starred review, Kirkus Reviews described Yonder as “multilayered, moving, and tremendously powerful.” Booklist, also in a starred review, called the novel, “A heartfelt tale about what it means to be a hero and take a stand against injustice.”


Sharon Dennis WyethSharon Dennis Wyeth Book Cover

Wyeth has written over 50 books, including picture books, early readers, middle grade, and young adult novels, both contemporary and historical. Her new Step 3 Reader (engaging characters in easy-to-follow plots and popular topics for children who are ready to read on their own) is Juneteenth: Our Day of Freedom, which explores the important holiday that celebrates the end of chattel slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, a group of enslaved men, women, and children gathered. Juneteenth marks the day when freedom truly rang for all.




Hollins Playwrights to Attend Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive

Sean McCord, who is pursuing his M.F.A. in the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins University, and Sarah Cosgrove-Gaumond, who completed her graduate degree in playwriting at Hollins this year, have been honored with invitations this summer to the Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive.

Presented by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF), the program welcomes university students, faculty, and emerging professionals from across the country. They engage in rigorous writing workshops and discussions of the art, craft, and business of playwriting led by Gary Garrison, an award-winning playwright, author, and educator who has served as executive director of creative affairs for the Dramatist Guild of America. A wide range of distinguished artists augment the program.

In addition, participants will be able to attend breakout sessions that address specific opportunities and challenges for affinity and identity groups, and playwrights of color, each led by a distinguished mentor.

Sean McCord
Sean McCord

McCord was drawn to playwriting after getting involved with local theatre in Charlottesville. “I discovered a writing group there, the LiveArts Playwrights Lab,” he recalled in a 2019 interview with WVTF Public Radio. “And, every summer they would put on a show of shorts that they had written. So, I went to that show and oh, wow, you mean you can just like write a play and get together with friends and they will put it on? So, I joined and started writing short plays and after that I was kind of hooked.”

McCord went on to enroll in the graduate program in playwriting at Hollins and has had plays produced in Virginia, Kentucky, Colorado, California, South Carolina, and Stuttgart, Germany. His first full-length play, Moving, won the 2019 Kennedy Center National Partners of the American Theatre Playwriting Award.

Sarah Cosgrove-Gaumond
Sarah Cosgrove-Gaumond

Cosgrove-Gaumond completed her M.F.A. this year and is enjoying her second invitation to the Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive; she attended the program in 2018. Her plays Unspoken and North Wind were selected for the Hollins Playwrights’ Festival of New Works in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Another play, I Lived to Tell, was one of three Hollins student-written plays invited to the KCACTF regional festival last year and was nominated for the organization’s national festival. It will be produced as part of the Hollins-Mill Mountain Winter Festival of New Works this January.

Other career highlights include writing and performing It Would Have to be a Girl at the Future is Female Festival at Chicago Dramatists, and You’d be So Much Prettier If You as part of the Women’s Performance Workshop at the Strand Theater in Baltimore.

“My goal is to create a theatrical experience that raises questions, challenges the status quo, and amplifies the voices of the underserved,” she notes on her website.

The Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive takes place virtually July 14-17 and 21-24.

Meghana Mysore M.F.A. ’22 Awarded Steinbeck Fellowship

When first asked about earning a prestigious Steinbeck Fellowship, Meghana Mysore M.F.A. ’22 is immediately self-effacing: “Of course I didn’t expect it to work out, but it felt worth a try.”

The attempt paid off. The Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies at San José State University recently announced that Mysore is one of six Steinbeck Fellows for the 2022-23 academic year. Named in honor of American author John Steinbeck, the fellowship offers creative writers of any age and educational background a $15,000 grant to finish a major writing project. Fellows typically reside in the San José area to attend in-person workshops and campus community events, but participation will be virtual for 2022-23 due to ongoing COVID-19 complications.

As a Steinbeck Fellow, Mysore will continue work on her M.F.A. thesis, a novel-in-stories currently titled Delayed Connections. “The book follows an Indian-American family in the Pacific Northwest, and explores questions of loss, desire, and joy in this family, along with the ways in which the external world of the very white suburb where they live acts on the dynamics between the family members,” she said. “The stories deal mostly with three characters — Srinivas, Lakshmi, and their American-born daughter Surya — and the gap between the two generations of this family, and the ways in which they can’t communicate. It’s thinking a lot about communication and what we’re willing to confess to strangers, versus the people closest to us.”

Like any writing project, Delayed Connections has been evolving for a long time, starting when Mysore was studying English at Yale University. “My undergraduate thesis actually consisted of four of these stories. I considered those first four stories linked because they were all about the same family, but the stories moved into different periods of time and were more loosely linked,” she explained. “Coming into my M.F.A. at Hollins, I knew that I wanted to keep exploring these stories. I thought they would continue to be linked stories, but they eventually became so tightly wound-up that the project felt like a novel in some ways, while the stories themselves are like episodes.”

She continued, “At Hollins, I’ve been exploring a lot more of the supporting characters and the characters who could offer a different viewpoint into this family. It moves into the past of these characters, including the parents’ time growing up in south India in the 1980s and when they left for the United States. But I think the question for all these characters is whether or not the dream of belonging is enough, and the idea of the American dream and where does it succeed and where does it fail, on the micro-level of this family.”

Mysore also credits some of the bigger shifts in her manuscript to her time at Hollins. “My thesis advisor, Scott Blackwood, has been really helpful in seeing the expansiveness of the project and writing in the in-between moments. He gives so much importance to memory, nonlinearity, and the past and the present, and how they intertwine in fiction. Like I said, the project started as these four stories that were connected through these central characters, but I hadn’t thought about the interstitial moments. I hadn’t thought about the characters who are in the periphery of these stories, but who are still important and can offer a perspective on the central characters.”

For instance, Mysore noted that “the novel’s first story is about the mother character — Lakshmi — and her fraught relationship with her mother-in-law, and how the mother-in-law’s conceptions of beauty and light skin eroded the relationship between them. But later in the novel, there’s a story from the mother-in-law’s perspective, where we understand what formed her perspective of beauty and light skin, and the ways that other people shaped that. So the stories are constantly turning in on themselves. I wanted them to each feel like they could stand alone and float in space, but hopefully as you read them together each story is alive with more complexity.”

Mysore’s relationship with Hollins actually extends back to her high school years, when she received an honorable mention in the university’s annual Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest, which is open to young women who are sophomores or juniors in high school. “The contest made me realize that Hollins really values creativity, and that kind of valuation is still rare. But you come here, and English and creative writing are some of the most popular majors. When I taught undergrads this past year, I could tell there’s a care and respect for creative writing. It’s not treated as lesser,” she said.

“I was also drawn to Hollins’ multi-genre approach. I first wrote poetry and discovered fiction in college. I thought Hollins was a place where I wouldn’t have to suppress my more poetic sensibilities, and could instead bring them into my fiction. Returning to poetry helped me feel more experimental in my writing in general, and focus more on language and sound, and how character can come from that focus.”

As for her time as a Steinbeck Fellow, Mysore is ready to watch her characters expand even more. “I’m so excited to have another writing community and to get fresh eyes on the manuscript. There are still things I want to explore. Someone in my workshop at Hollins mentioned that a character featured in one of the stories could have an entire story from her perspective, and I agree. Now that I’ve felt how these stories can reach into other narratives, that just invites me to write more, and to write into those spaces even more,” she said. “It just means so much to me that this particular fellowship committee saw the potential of this manuscript, and now I’ll get a different perspective on it, all while continuing work on a project I really believe in.”

Continued work on Delayed Connections is not all that matters to Mysore; the changing world is just as important: “What we conceptualize as ‘classical literature’ often is the face of John Steinbeck and other white men, yet five out of the six people in my cohort are people of color. It just feels like a powerful statement — given the ways in which definitions of ‘literary excellence’ are tied to Steinbeck’s name — not against him, but in conversation with the ways that literature has grown and changed and started to include many more voices.”


Marin Harrington is a graduate assistant in Hollins’ marketing and communications department. She is pursuing her M.F.A. in creative writing at the university.

Photo credit: Gel Ramos M.F.A. ‘22


Hollins, Roanoke College Welcome Nominations for the 2022 Perry F. Kendig Awards

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2022 Perry F. Kendig Arts and Culture Awards, which recognize individuals, businesses, and organizations in the greater Roanoke region that provide exemplary leadership in or support for the arts.

The deadline for nominations is Monday, August 15, at 4 p.m. EDT. The nomination form and other information can be found at https://kendigawards.com/.


Celebrating 37 years of honoring excellence in arts and culture, the Kendig Awards have been co-sponsored by Hollins University and Roanoke College since 2013. This year, the awards presentation and celebration will be held at Hollins in October; more details about the event will be announced at a later date.

Kendig Awards are presented in each of the following categories:

  • Individual Artist (selected from all disciplines, including dance, literature, music, media arts, visual arts, and theatre)
  • Arts and/or Cultural Organization
  • Individual or Business Arts Supporter

Individuals, businesses, and organizations from the greater Roanoke region (which includes the counties of Botetourt, Franklin, and Roanoke, the cities of Roanoke and Salem, and the town of Vinton) are eligible, as are past Kendig Award recipients from 1985 – 2012. Programs and full-time employees of Hollins University and Roanoke College are eligible to be nominated as well.

“Hollins University and Roanoke College have actively sought ways for students to immerse themselves in the Roanoke Region’s vibrant arts and cultural community,” said Hollins President Mary Dana Hinton. “Our students are often fortunate to find themselves working alongside a local visual artist in their studio or in the community, performing in a local theatrical production, or learning about arts administration during an internship at a non-profit organization.”

“When the Perry F. Kendig Awards found itself without a home in 2013, Hollins and Roanoke came together to keep the tradition alive in appreciation to the Roanoke region’s cultural community resources,” added Roanoke College President Mike Maxey. “In addition, Hollins and Roanoke hope that in presenting this annual program it will build an even stronger arts and culture bridge between the campus environment and community at large.”

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 awards were presented by the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge for 27 years.

For Championing Mental Health Advocacy, Charvi Gangwani ’24 Is Named a 2022 Global Teen Leader

Charvi Gangwani ’24 is among the 34 young people representing 23 countries on five continents announced as the 2022 Three Dot Dash Global Teen Leaders (GTLs) by the We Are Family Foundation (WAFF).

The WAFF selected the GTLs based on their social good innovations, organizations, projects, and promise for a more just, equitable, and peaceful future.

In response to what she felt was a huge gap in mental heath resources available to students in her home country of India, Gangwani founded The Amygdala, an organization raising awareness about mental health issues, advocating for access to mental services in schools, and helping adolescents achieve psychological resilience through education and resources.

The Amygdala has become an international movement comprised of psychological education and mental health workshops and webinars, a speaker series that connects mental health professionals to students, and a series that highlights the stories of young mental health advocates. To date, they have led 74 sessions impacting more than 3,000 students worldwide, and their education guides have been used in 43 schools across India.

“This would not have been possible without the unconditional support that I have received from Hollins’ faculty and my peers,” stated Gangwani, a biology major and chemistry minor. “Hollins’ innovative classes such as “Social Media and Social Activism” (taught by Associate Professor of Communication Studies Vladimir Bratic) greatly supported me in my endeavors and instilled in me the 21st century skills needed to succeed with my social enterprise.”

The 2022 GTLs will convene virtually from July 11 – August 12 for WAFF’s Three Dot Dash Just Peace Summit. “I cannot wait to represent Hollins at the Summit,” Gangwani said.

The WAFF is a not-for-profit organization co-founded by legendary musician Nile Rodgers and is dedicated to the visions of a global family by creating programs that promote cultural diversity while nurturing and mentoring the vision, talents, and ideas of young people who are positively changing the world.

“The world is in a very dangerous place – environmentally, economically, politically, combined with systemic inequality and injustice permeating throughout,” said Rodgers and WAFF co-founder Nancy Hunt. “We need global cooperation to effectively address these issues, and we need to look to our global youth for their ideas, solutions, and actions to save our planet. They don’t believe in the word “NO.” They believe that anything is possible, and they ACT on it.”

Collectively, the work of this year’s GTLs addresses all 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.




Forty-Fifth Honors Convocation Celebrates Student, Faculty, Staff Accomplishments


Hollins University recognized students for high academic achievement during the university’s 45th Honors Convocation on May 3.

Held each spring, Honors Convocation also highlights those faculty and staff members whose exceptional work and dedication have earned them special academic or service designation.


Student and faculty/staff awards announced at this year’s Honors Convocation include:

Alice Bull Biology Award
Isabella Louise Jessee ‘22
Established in 1991 by students, alumnae, colleagues, and friends in honor of Professor Alice Bull, who taught biology at Hollins from 1964 until her retirement in 1990. The purpose of the award is to provide recognition to a deserving senior and/or junior student in biology.

Andrew James Purdy Merit Scholarship in Fiction Writing
Willow Marie Seymour ‘23
In memory of Andrew James Purdy, a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1968 to 1977, this scholarship is given to a senior English major pursuing an honors project in short fiction or a related literary

Andrew James Purdy Prize for Short Fiction
Winner – Griffin Harrison Plaag, M.F.A. ‘22
Runner-up – Erin Hall Comerford, M.F.A. ‘22
In memory of Andrew James Purdy, a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1968 to 1977, this award is given to a graduate student in the creative writing program who has written a body of fiction of outstanding quality.

ARETE Award in Classical Studies
Mairwen Isolde Meiying Minson ‘22
Established in 2006, this award is sponsored by the Classical Association of the Middle, West, and South (CAMWS) and is given to the junior and/or senior student(s) who have completed outstanding work in the field of classics in the past year. The awardee receives a certificate, a subscription to Classical Journal, and a free membership in CAMWS for the following academic year.

Daniel M. Murphy Prize for Spanish
Tyah Alethia Ray-Johnna Wright ‘22
This award, named for Dan Murphy, professor of Spanish at Hollins from 1993 until his death in 2012, is presented to a student of Spanish who, following Professor Murphy’s example, exhibits on a daily basis a profound love of the Spanish language and a dedication to learning about and teaching others about Hispanic cultures and literatures.

David L. Longfellow History Prize
Abigail Nicole Phillips ‘25
This prize, established in 1982 in honor of David L. Longfellow, former assistant professor of history at Hollins, is awarded to the outstanding first-year student in history.

Elise Deyerle Lewis Award
Van Hai Le ‘23
The late Elise Deyerle Lewis, class of 1927, donated a silver cup to honor the student in the junior class showing the greatest promise in mathematics. The award is in memory of Isabel Hancock, class of 1927, who was Mrs. Lewis’ roommate at Hollins, and later an outstanding teacher of mathematics at Abbot Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. The name of the student chosen is engraved on the cup, which remains on display at the university.

Elizabeth Alexander Thomas Award
Eleanor Linette Robb ‘24
This award, in memory of Elizabeth Alexander Thomas, class of 1968, recognizes and rewards one or more rising sophomore, junior, or senior art history majors whose academic work in art history shows exceptional depth and promise and to provide support for the art history department. Awarded funds may be used by the recipient(s) for any expenses related to academic work in art history, including museum admission fees and travel to collections and galleries.

Elizabeth Kennedy Chance Award
Aabhashree Lamichhane ‘22
Abhigya Tamang ‘23
Established by John K. Chance in memory of his mother, class of 1922, this award is given for excellence in economics.

Honors Convocation Procession
In their decorated robes, members of the class of 2022 process to duPont Chapel for the 45th Honors Convocation.

Evelyn Bradshaw Award for Excellence
Sarah Kathleen Vinson ‘22
This award, established in 1997 and given in honor of former Horizon Program Director Evelyn Bradshaw ’88, recognizes an outstanding Horizon student who inspires others through her perseverance, positive attitude, pursuit of knowledge, and love of Hollins. The chosen student will have her name engraved on a plaque that will remain at the university.

F.J. McGuigan Psychology Award for Excellence
Apoorva Verma ‘22
Established in 1974, this award, consisting of books and a certificate, is presented for excellence in undergraduate and graduate education and research.

Frances Niederer Scholars
Art History:
Sara Ann Ficke ‘22
Studio Art:
Kennah Nicole Hebert ‘23
Ashley Nichole King ‘23
An anonymous donor established a scholarship fund in 1983 to honor Frances J. Niederer, professor of art history at Hollins from 1942 until her retirement in 1980. The art department selects two outstanding art majors, at least one of whom is specializing in art history, as recipients in their senior year of the Frances Niederer Scholarships.

Freya Award
Gedin Cabrera ‘22
The purpose of this award is to recognize a student who throughout her time at Hollins has remained dedicated and committed to her activities on campus in a way that provides a quiet yet vital force in our community. It is for someone who has never reached out for the spotlight and has not been recognized for her efforts formally, but has still continued to work humbly and diligently in what she does to positively affect our campus.

Gertrude Claytor Poetry Prize
Winner – Griffin Harrison Plaag, M.F.A. ‘22
Honorable Mention – Anne-Sophie Louise Olsen, M.F.A. ‘22
This prize of the Academy of American Poets is given to a graduate or undergraduate student for the best poem or group of poems.

Goethe Award
Katherine “Katy” Babineau ‘24
This award, in recognition of special accomplishments in the study of German language and literature, is presented by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Herta Freitag Award in Mathematics
Akshita “Akshi” Agarwal ‘22
Simran Parajulee ‘22
The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding senior student in mathematics at Hollins who plans either to teach mathematics or pursue a career field related to mathematics.

Hollins Fiction Prize
Willow Marie Seymour ‘23
Established by Sally Durham Mason, class of 1959, in honor of Louis D. Rubin Jr., a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1957 to 1967. This award is given to an undergraduate student who has done outstanding work in the writing of fiction.

International Studies Award for Academic Excellence
Chanmolis “Molly” Mout ‘23
This award is given to a student for outstanding work in international studies during the academic year.

James Lewis Howe Award in Chemistry
Hannah Claire Arthur ‘22
This award is sponsored by the Virginia Blue Ridge Section of the American Chemical Society and is given each year to the outstanding chemistry major from each of the 14 colleges or universities within the section’s boundaries.

J.F. Maddox Foundation Award for Excellence in French
Zoe Madeline Thornhill ‘22
Isabella Grace Taylor ‘22
Amy “Faith” Herrington ‘22
Awarded annually to a student who has demonstrated superior achievement in French.

Judith Gregory Smith Award
Winner – Tram Nguyen ‘24
Winner – Olivia Kathryn Sacci ‘24
Honorable Mention – Ellie Eunbee Song ‘24
This award is given by Judith Riddick Reynolds, class of 1915, in memory of her granddaughter, Judith Gregory Smith, who would have been a fourth-generation alumna in the class of 1990. It recognizes excellence in the natural sciences.

Lisa Lindsey Award for Excellence in Theatre Arts
Elizabeth Ann Marie Dion ‘22
Nabila Nasrullah Meghjani ‘23
Deirdre Kelly Price ‘22
Chloe Fiona Mahalek ’22
Established by Mary Varner Meryweather, class of 1941, as a memorial to her classmate and friend, Lisa Lindsey, this award, consisting of a cash prize and a certificate, is presented annually to a student who demonstrates outstanding achievement in theatre arts.

Mae Shelton Boger Award
Selden DuBose Frissell ‘23
Mae Shelton Boger, class of 1941, derived particular pleasure from her studies in French. This endowed award, given in her memory, is presented annually to an outstanding student of French who combines sound scholarship with pleasure in the pursuit of her studies.

Margaret Markley Smith Awards
Art History:
Amy “Faith” Herrington ‘22
Studio Art:
Sylvia Raven Lane ‘22
Abigail “Abbey” Hegwood ‘22
Winner – Tabitha Renee Gills ‘22
Winner – Deirdre Kelly Price ‘22
Winner – Natalia Wioletta Sarram ‘22
In memory of Margaret Markley Smith, class of 1938, these awards are given to a senior majoring in art and a senior majoring in English for outstanding work.

Marion Garrett Lunsford Award
Maya Florence Ponnuswami-Hart ‘22
Samantha “Sami” Hoyer ‘22
Established as a fund in memory of Marion Garrett Lunsford, class of 1926, this award is given annually to a member of the senior class for distinguished accomplishment in music.

Mary Houska Scholarship
Egypt Tierra Matthews ‘23
Ambrielle Elizabeth Viney ‘23
The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding upperclass economics or business major who has demonstrated superior academic performance.

Mary-Barbara Zeldin Award
Emily Michelle Bulifant ‘22
This award, established by students, colleagues, and friends in honor of Professor Mary-Barbara Zeldin, who taught philosophy at Hollins from 1953 until her death in 1981, is given to a rising junior, rising senior, or senior for excellence in philosophy.

Mary Vincent Long Award in English
Grace Anita Gaynor ‘22
In memory of Mary Vincent Long, a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1938 to 1959, this award is given to a senior English major who exemplifies in the study of literature “a mind capable of going beyond concern with immediate facts to understanding and creation.”

Melanie Hook Rice Award in Creative Writing
Winner – Griffin Harrison Plaag, M.F.A. ‘22
Runner-up – Emily Elizabeth Davis-Fletcher, M.F.A. ‘23
Runner-up – Meghana Mysore, M.F.A. ‘22
In memory of Melanie Hook Rice, class of 1975, this award is given to a graduate or undergraduate student in the creative writing program who has demonstrated considerable writing skills and has either completed or made substantial progress toward writing a book-length work of nonfiction.

Melanie Hook Rice Award in the Novel
Winner – Jamie Elizabeth Hudalla, M.F.A. ‘22
Runner-up – Meghana Mysore, M.F.A. ‘22
Runner-up – Cameron Kenley Vanderwerf, M.F.A. 22
In memory of Melanie Hook Rice, class of 1975, this award is given to a graduate or undergraduate student in the creative writing program who has demonstrated considerable writing skills and has either completed or made substantial progress toward writing a novel.

Mildred Persinger ’39 – Shocky Pilafian Award in Gender and Women’s Studies
Emily Michelle Lauletta ‘22
Nabila Nasrullah Meghjani ‘22
This award acknowledges excellence in academic achievement as well as significant contributions to social activism both within the Hollins community and beyond. The award seeks to recognize gender and women’s studies graduates who are working to effect social change and bring about social justice in a variety of arenas. This award is given to a graduating gender and women’s studies major.

Nancy Ellen Couper Ault Award in Ethics, Morals, and Values
Mohini Sudhakar ‘24
Available to any student of the college and is accordingly an interdisciplinary honor, encourages students to think critically about important ethical questions affecting a broad range of endeavors.

Nancy Penn Holsenbeck Prize
Winner – Vanity Leya Hernandez ‘24
Winner – Lindsey Smith Hull ‘23
In memory of Nancy Penn Holsenbeck, class of 1938, this award is given to a rising sophomore, junior, or senior English major who has demonstrated both a love and a command of the English language.

Nancy Thorp Poetry Prize
Sophia Khan ‘22
Juliet “Jules” Pleskach ‘25
In memory of Nancy Thorp, who attended Hollins from 1956 to 1958, this award is given to an undergraduate student who has written the best poem to appear in the student-produced literary magazine Cargoes.

Nicole Kohn Film Award
Naomi Rajoo ‘23
This award is given in memory of Nicole Kohn, class of 2002, to a filmmaking student of exceptional promise.

Patricia Dowd Overall Award
Grace Marie Hilton ‘22
Patricia Dowd Overall is a member of the class of 1954. In her honor a prize is given annually to the student who, in the judgment of the department of education, has demonstrated in the schoolroom the greatest mastery and promise in the art of teaching.

Pi Sigma Alpha Award
Christine Marie Emeric-Martinez ‘22
This award is given to the senior with the highest grade point average in courses taken in political science.

Sarah M. Cook International Studies Award
Zahin Mahbuba ‘22
The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding undergraduate student majoring in international studies.

Stephanie Mahan Hispanophile Award
Fanny “Isabel” Estrada Lago ‘22
This award is given to a senior Spanish major or minor whose enthusiasm and outstanding interest in things Hispanic most closely mirror the example set by Stephanie Lynn Mahan, class of 1995. Specifically, this student must have sought out first-hand experience in the Spanish-speaking world and must have generously shared her knowledge of that world with her peers.

Wyndham Robertson Library Undergraduate Research Awards
Elizabeth Lindsey Klein ‘23
Deirdre Kelly Price ‘22
Established in 2011 by the library for the recognition of exemplary undergraduate student research projects completed in Hollins courses. Two prizes are awarded, one to a first-year or sophomore and one to a junior or senior.


The Herta Freitag Faculty Legacy Award
Mary Jane Carmichael, assistant professor of biology and environmental studies
Awarded to a full-time teaching faculty member who has received external recognition of professional excellence from the last three years in the form of publications and papers, exhibits and performances, prizes, and other related expressions of their work.

Senior Class Faculty Award
Courtney Chenette, assistant professor of political science
Given by the senior class to a faculty member who has made a significant impact on their lives.

Hollins Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award
Initiated in 2021, recognizes two members of the faculty – one full-time tenure-track/tenured faculty member, and one non- tenure track faculty member – who motivate and inspire students through the demonstration of exemplary teaching practices, and who have made a positive impact on the teaching culture of the University through innovative and high-impact teaching methodologies, inclusive pedagogies, community engagement in teaching/learning, creative and/or interdisciplinary course development, instructional support, and/or campus leadership around pedagogy. Given that the inauguration of the award last year was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year the award was presented to two tenured or tenure-track faculty and two non-tenure-track faculty members.
Tenured/tenure track category:
LeeRay Costa – professor of anthropology and gender and women’s studies and director of faculty development
Non tenure track category:
Heather Derrick – lecturer of communication studies and director of oral communications

Roberta A. Stewart Service Award
Jeri Suarez, associate vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion
Granted to a Hollins employee who demonstrates long-term service, loyalty to the university, and deep caring for students and colleagues.


Through Design Thinking, Zahin Mahbuba ’22 Seeks to Transform the World – One Person at a Time

Zahin Mahbuba ’22 has enjoyed an especially memorable – and impactful – senior year at Hollins.

During the 2021-22 academic session, the international studies major and economics minor from Bangladesh furthered her aspiration of becoming a trendsetter at Hollins and beyond through the University Innovation Fellows (UIF) program sponsored by Stanford University’s Hass Plattner Institute of Design (d.school).

UIF empowers student leaders to help their peers build the creative confidence and entrepreneurial mindset needed to address global challenges. “It is absolutely life changing,” said Mahbuba, who was accepted into the program last fall after successfully completing UIF’s rigorous application process with her faculty sponsor, Assistant Professor of Political Science Courtney Chenette. She remotely completed UIF’s four-week training program, where she learned “how you can build stuff, how you gather resources, how you get people on board.”

Mahbuba and Chenette spent the next several months focusing on how immigrant populations and refugees often become entrepreneurs after arriving in America or other Western countries, an innovative mindset that Mahbuba thought could be used to develop experiential learning opportunities for Hollins students. “How can you create things in your environment and ecosystem that don’t exist yet, but you know should be there?” she summarized in an October 2021 interview.

To that end, Mahbuba served as a student success leader for the Fall Term 2021 first-year seminar “Sustainability and Social Innovation,” where she engaged in a design-thinking framework. “One of my major goals last semester was to get as many people as I could to understand design thinking, especially in our first-year seminar where that was our entire focus,” she explained.

University Innovation Fellows
Zahin Mahbuba ’22 (second from left) traveled to Stanford in March.

Supported by a $5,500 grant she received when she was honored last summer with Hollins’ first-ever Changemaker Award for entrepreneurship, Mahbuba’s UIF experience culminated this March when she traveled to Stanford with Chenette to spend five days working with a cohort of 200 people from around the world. “This was a bunch of students my age in college who have amazing ideas and are doing amazing things. If you just left them in a room or in the school for a year, I think they could literally change the world.” She also got to meet professors from d.school who, even though they were from different departments and represented different disciplines, “all shared a strong belief in how design can be an agent for change.”

From the beginning, Mahbuba said, the UIF sessions “put innovation in the space of understanding how it can benefit communities.” Mahbuba’s group was given the task of solving a real-life problem for a rural family with financial restrictions that suffered from asthma. “One of the students created an inexpensive air pollution detector that you can put in your room to measure air quality. It can alert the family to open a window, turn on a fan, or just stop cooking for a couple of hours. Another team I met developed a software program that was installed in a village that had never had an internet connection. Through that, they were able to provide internet access to children for remote schooling.”

She noted that innovation “doesn’t always look like a product. It can be changing a specific system or working toward affordably helping people in the community.”

Mahbuba presented to her cohort her passion for “relearning how to learn. It’s about educational systems and how things are not always in silos. In order for design thinking to become the next transformative tool in the world, we have to integrate learning beginning at a very young age. By the time we get to college, we’re already trying to figure out how to connect the dots and we miss out on what the bigger picture looks like. You walk out of a math class and into an English class with no focus on connecting what you’ve learned from math and how that might relate to English.” If such a mindset is adopted, she concluded, it becomes easier to “understand the situational problems that we face on a day-to-day basis.”

University Innovation Fellows at Stanford
Assistant Professor of Political Science Courtney Chenette (left) and Zahin Mahbuba ’22 on the Stanford campus.

The students in Mahbuba’s cohort were creative and driven. The sessions in which she participated were intense. But, she emphasized that “nothing about this was competition. Our competition was to beat the problem we were facing. We had to actively and continuously work together to find simple solutions, and we shared this worldly view of what we can do to better the community.”

Nevertheless, the UIF program sought to balance the often-frenetic schedule. “There were many opportunities for self-reflection and mindfulness,” Mahbuba said. “We did one activity where we just went outside, laid down on the grass, and looked at the sky. It taught me to see the beauty of slowing down. When you do that, you see things more for what they are. Hustling 24/7 actually wears you down and keeps you from completing meaningful work.”


Mahbuba said she has come out of the UIF program with an even greater appreciation for making impressions on a personal level. “Impacting one life at a time is something. It’s developing relationships with communities and people to implement transformative change instead of thinking, ‘Oh, this is an entire population I need to help.’ Being able to go to Stanford and work with these people and at the same time work on an individual basis with communities and families and households has shown me that impact starts with bite-size pieces. It’s how these people can benefit and then take the opportunity to develop that even more.”

Recently inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, Mahbuba has been accepted into graduate school programs at the University of Pennsylvania, Emory University, Northeastern University, and Florida International University. However, she’s decided to defer going to grad school. “The programs in which I am interested center mostly around educational development and a process toward a lot of institutionalized change,” she explained. “They require fieldwork above and beyond the internship experiences that I’ve had at Hollins. So, I think its important for me to join the workforce for a year. One of the companies I’m pursuing is a legal firm that works with marginalized communities on educational and legal development, an area I’m very interested in.”

At the same time, Mahbuba is actively working with Chenette on making the UIF program an ongoing opportunity for future generations on campus. “I don’t want this to be a one-off thing for me. We’d like the next cohort to contain a group of Hollins students who are innovative thinkers with diverse backgrounds.”


Hollins Announces Winner of the 2022 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

Hollins University has honored Vietnamese author Muon Thi Van as the winner of the seventh annual Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature.

Muon will receive an engraved medal and a $1,000 cash prize for Wishes, illustrated by Victo Ngai and published by Orchard Books. Inspired by events in the author’s life, Wishes is the story of a Vietnamese family’s search for a new home on the other side of the world and how that impacts one of the family’s youngest members.

Muon Thi Van, winner of the 2022 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature.

“Muon Thi Van takes the reader on a heart-wrenching journey, from leaving the familiarity of home to navigating the perils of an ocean voyage to finally arriving at a place of hope and new beginnings,” stated the judges for this year’s prize, acclaimed children’s book authors Marla Frazee, David LaRochelle, and Meg Medina. “All of this is done with just 75 carefully chosen words. The originality of having inanimate objects voice the child’s feelings, and the depth of emotion captured in so few words, astounded [us] and made for an inventive, powerful book that has lingered in our hearts long after we read it.”

The Margaret Wise Brown Prize is just the latest honor for Wishes. It was named the Best Picture Book of 2021 by BookPage; received the 2022 ILA Notable Books for a Global Society award; and was co-winner of the Golden Poppy Award for children’s picture books. Wishes is also an NPR Best Book of the Year, a Horn Book 2021 Fanfare Pick, and a 2021 New York Public Library’s Best Books for Kids List Pick.

Judges for this year’s Margaret Wise Brown Prize also named one Honor Book: The Longest Letsgoboy, written by debut author Derick Wilder, illustrated by Cátia Chen, and published by Chronicle Books. “The story is told from a dog’s point of view,” the judges said. “As Letsgoboy takes the final walk of his earthly life with his little girl, the narration and dog language are perfectly attuned to how a child takes in the word as well. The Longest Letsgoboy transports the reader on a journey which is by turns joyous, heartbreaking, comforting and full of love.”

Wishes Book Cover
Margaret Wise Brown Prize judges praised “Wishes” as “an inventive, powerful book.”

The judges added that both Wishes and The Longest Letsgoboy “explore the difficult terrain of loss using a sophisticated sense of language for children. Whether spare to capture the very essence of longing and hope in leaving a homeland, or immersive in a rich, inventive vocabulary about companionship, these works represent the power of language to help children understand the deep changes they sometimes face.”

Each year, Hollins invites nominations for the prize from children’s book publishers located across the country and around the world. A three-judge panel, consisting of established picture book authors, reviews the nominations and chooses a winner.

Hollins established the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature as a way to pay tribute to one of its best-known alumnae and one of America’s most beloved children’s authors. The cash prizes are made possible by an endowed fund created by James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death.

“The Margaret Wise Brown Prize is one of the few children’s book awards that has a cash prize attached,” said Lisa Rowe Fraustino, director of the graduate programs in children’s literature at Hollins.

The engraved medal presented to the winners was conceived by award-winning sculptor, painter, and Hollins alumna Betty Branch of Roanoke. Winners and Honor Book recipients are presented an original linocut certificate designed and donated by Ashley Wolff, author and/or illustrator of over 50 children’s books.

Margaret Wise Brown graduated from Hollins in 1932 and went on to write Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and other children’s classics before she died in 1952. Hollins celebrated her life and work with a year-long Margaret Wise Brown Festival in 2011 and 2012, which featured stage and musical adaptations of her work along with readings, workshops, guest lectures, and other activities for all ages.

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.

This fall, Hollins’ children’s literature program will release information on how to submit books for consideration for the 2023 Margaret Wise Brown Prize.