Fall 2015 scholarship applicants reflected on the theme—Finding Home—for the Sigma Tau Delta 2016 International Convention in Minneapolis. Application essays help judges determine scholarship awards but are also judged independently; authors of the best essays from the fall round receive $50 prizes. This week’s blog shares two of the top four essays and focuses on how family can affect our understanding of home.
Fall 2015 Scholarship Essay Winner
Iota Mu Chapter
Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC
I am a first-generation college student. I grew up in a household of complacency, and though I was always supported, I was never challenged. In high school, I spent most of my time loitering around the English department and talking to my favorite teachers about books and language and life; I wanted every school day to last longer, not because my life at home was bad, but because those conversations were invigorating. A home should be supportive, but a home should also be empowering. It should be safe, and there’s nothing safe about complacency.
I have found my home in a discipline, and a department, that doesn’t settle. I have been dared to hear my voice among the poets and the novelists and mouthpieces of our humanity, and I have been challenged to listen to and to learn from everything around me. Studying the English language and the literature that has come from it has pushed me into a war zone of authentic problems and opposing opinions, into a world of questions that are hard to ask and harder to answer, but it has armed me with the weapons of critical thinking.
The paradox of a good home is that it keeps you safe by putting you in danger. It is dangerous to speak for yourself in a world that won’t stop talking. It is dangerous to write well your thoughts and opinions, to communicate effectively with an adapting society, but it is fatal to be complacent.
Teal St. Nicklaus
Fall 2015 Scholarship Essay Winner
Tau Upsilon Chapter, Treasurer
Mercer University, Macon, GA
I have always been at home when entrenched in a good novel or engrossed in a collection of particularly stimulating essays—but it was not until I lost everything that I found my own voice. Five years ago I thought I had everything: a ballet career behind me, a loving husband beside me, and a budding family before me. I was wrong. When my daughter turned two weeks old, my husband abandoned us. I was left without a means to support myself and without hope. I felt lost, I felt discarded, I felt abused. I was not enough. My foundation, my “home” had been torn from my fingers. I had no outlet for my feelings of despair and so I turned to paper and pen. I began writing long passages, which eventually morphed into poetry. Slowly, I began to take control of my life through creative expression. I found my strength—my home—through poetry; I was enough. Words became my power. I realized a home and a family can come in any shape—my daughter and I were a family. I made a plan. I would go back to school and get my education. I would learn the ins and outs of argumentation and logic through the study of philosophy and I would learn about novels, poetry, critical theory, and writing through English Literature and formal writing courses. I would become proficient and knowledgeable about the discipline I loved so I could share that discipline with others.
Today, through hard work and perseverance, I am a junior at Mercer University with a 4.0 GPA, the treasurer for my local chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, a Preceptor in the writing program, and a group leader for the National Society of Leadership and Success. I am working toward a dream, that up until five years ago, I didn’t even know I had. Disciplinary writing found me and has fostered in me a deep love for the English language. Sigma Tau Delta has allowed me to become part of a national discourse community as it has permitted me to connect with other lovers of novels, poetry, and critical theory. The Society has provided me with a platform for sharing my works and obtaining feedback and thereby improving my writing. Sigma Tau Delta has become another kind of home for me. As they say, home is where the heart is, and words will always be my home.
Sigma Tau Delta Scholarships
Submissions for the spring 2016 round of scholarship applications are now open. Complete your application through the AwardSpring platform not only to be eligible for a wide array of scholarships, but also to be entered in the Scholarship Essay Contest. Your winning scholarship essay could be featured on WORDY by Nature next year.
Applications Due on March 21, 2016 by 11:59 p.m. CDT (Central Daylight Time)
Scholarships Determined by May 2, 2016
Learn more about Scholarships.