The 8th Annual English Department Faculty Writing Awards recently honored five student writers in a ceremony at Richard Harris Terrace, with awards provided by donations from Pearson Publishing and Cengage Publishing, as well as from over a dozen BMCC faculty and staff.
These included Lauren Jonk, winner of the $1,000 Pearson Award for Academic Writing and Feature Writing; Brendan Heldenfels, winner of the $500 Cengage Award for Academic Writing; Ana Medeiros, winner of the $500 Jane Young Memorial Award for Academic Writing; Jasmine Calderón, winner of the $200 Faculty Writing Award for Poetry, and Aaron Thorpe, winner of the $200 Faculty Writing Award for Fiction.
A Keynote Speaker honors student writing
Keynote Speaker Bhisham Bherwani delivered comments centered on an editorial that appeared in The New York Times in December 2011, “Why Is the N.Y.P.D. After Me?,” by BMCC student Nicholas Peart.
Through its “elegant, matter-of-fact” prose, Bherwani said, this student’s writing “presented statistical facts that corroborate a larger concept”—the role of racial profiling in the prevalent police practice of stop-and-frisk.
Bherwani himself has an understanding of statistics, or numerical concepts, having started his academic career majoring in computer science, then math, then fine arts—an unusual trajectory which distinguishes him, he joked, “as the only person in North America to have done so.”
He has also distinguished himself as a poet. The Second Night of the Spirit was published by CavanKerry Press in 2009, and he is the editor of an anthology of poetry from India, translated to English and published this year by Atlanta Review, while forthcoming in an expanded edition from Michigan State University Press.
An Adjunct Lecturer in BMCC’s English Department, Bherwani has been with the college since 2008.
Winners, and their mentors
The 8th Annual English Department Faculty Writing Awards were co-chaired by Professors Holly Messitt and James Tolan of the English department, who welcomed the guests, as did Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, Sadie Bragg.
The winners read from their work, presented by the faculty who mentored them.
Lauren Jonik, a Writing and Literature major, was introduced by Professor James Tolan and read excerpts from her essays on the Harriet Beecher Stowe abolitionist novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and well as from her review of Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Dorie Colangelo.
Jonik, who lives in both Pennsylvania and Brooklyn, was attending BMCC two and a half years ago when, “I had a health crisis,” she says, “and since then, online classes have been a better option for me.”
Professor Tolan described her as "a kind of pen pal,” as well as student, and commented on how quickly she assimilated comments on her work and presented revisions. The two met for the first time, at the awards ceremony.
Presented by Professor Carlos Hernandez and Bronwyn Bates of Cengage Publishing, Brendan Heldenfels read from his review of the television series, The Wire.
Ana Medeiros read from her literary analysis of Stonehenge and the Louvre, and was presented by Professor Dolores DeLuise.
Jasmine Calderón, presented by Professor Marguerite Rivas, read from her poem, “Strolling Through Dimensions,” and Aaron Thorpe ended the program, presented by Professor Page Delano and reading from his short story, “Natalie & Bo.”
English Department Chair Joyce C. Harte generously provided funds for refreshments for the event.
In addition to funding provided by Pearson Publishing and Cengage Publishing, the evening’s awards were made possible by contributions from BMCC faculty and staff including Elizabeth Berlinger, Joe Bisz, Page Delano, Maria Devasconcelos, Francis Elmi, Doris Hart, Holly Messitt, Stephanie Oppenheim, Marguerite Rivas, Diane Simmons, Lara Stapleton and James Tolan.