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Millikin's Premier Writers 2013

Publication Details

Let's Talk Kids Becoming a Family cover

Millikin's Premier Writers 2013
by Millikin University First Year Writing Students
: Amanda Lee, Morgan Oliver, Tyler Ross, Brock Hayden, and Katie Hobbs

Edited by Brittany Mytnik, Sophia Maria Andricopulos, Caitlin Husted, Morgan Ewald, and Kara Anderson.

Book design by Brooke Paddock.

Faculty editor, Dr. Carmella Braniger.

ISBN 978-0-9819591-9-1
paperback © 2014 • 80 pages (6" X 9”)
$12.00 plus $2.50 postage
Illinois residents add 9% sales tax ($1.08 per book)


Millikin's Premier Writers 2013 by first year writing students: . (Decatur, IL.: Bronze Man Books, 2014. 68 pages, 6x9 inches, perfect bound. ISBN 978-0-9787441-9-1. $12.00 and $2.50 postage from the publisher at <> or by mail from: Bronze Man Books, Millikin University, 1184 W. Main, Decatur, IL 62522.


This anthology of first-year student essays is the beginning of a Millikin University tradition. Consisting of the five winning essays of the 2013 Millikin's Premier Writers Contest, these interdisciplinary writing samples “represent the very best research-driven critical inquiries of the 2012-2013 incoming class,” says Dr. Carmella Braniger, Millikin associate professor of English and director of First-Year Writing.The collection features 5 essays:




“LET’S HAVE A PARTY” by Brock Hayden




Millikin University's interdisciplinary Critical Writing, Reading, and Research program offers a space for teachers and students to connect with others and practice the craft of wordsmithing. As smiths of words, writers are thinkers. Writing, reading, and thinking grant us passage not necessarily to catalogue the world we encounter, but to question it. Teachers are responsible for pointing toward the occasion that brings about writing. Students are responsible for gathering and giving form to what compels.

Our correspondence with information and knowledge helps us to question and think through our relationship with language and with the world in which we live. Correspondence that questions provides the occasion for reading, writing, and research. It also occasions the need for gathering information, evaluating information effectively, and writing about what has been evaluated with insight, authority, and innovation.

To engage in critical and rigorous thinking, reading, writing, and research concerning one's own research question is the goal for each student in the second semester of Millikin's first-year writing course. The students published in this anthology demonstrate the best efforts of Millikin's first-years in achieving excellence, as evaluated by fellow students.


Teachers and students alike ask themselves and each other: what makes for excellence in writing? Whether designing curriculum, constructing assignments, formulating assessment rubrics, or leading class discussions, teachers are always engaged in answering the question of excellence. Each time students have an idea, or sit down to write or revise, each time they receive feedback on their work from teachers and peers, the potential for excellence arises and the question of how to reach such potential gets raised. Answers to the question are genre-specific and reliant upon various intended (and unintended) audiences and purposes. The essays here showcase the genre of the research essay.

The research process invites student and teacher to discover and develop new perspectives—not only on the topics being researched, but on the research process itself. Encouraging students' original contributions to ongoing intellectual conversations prepares students for real-world, professional engagements in the variety of discourse communities they will encounter throughout their college years and beyond. Students develop the perspectivism they need as they learn to become democratic citizens in a global environment. Asking students to identify a discourse community and to research and write for it not only puts students in the position to invest in quality research methodologies; it encourages them to engage with complexity and deep intellectual exploration. Such engagement and exploration defines excellence in the research composition process. Finally, student excellence has the potential to teach the teacher—not only about new topics, but about the shapes excellence can take. In this way, both teacher and student come to understand one another as collaborators in the quest for making new knowledge.

Along with making an original contribution, these essays engage in critical and quality research; demonstrate mastery of using texts in the research writing process; are clear, organized, coherent, and developed; and show the emergence of distinct voice. Personal investment in the research question or inquiry marks these student essays as excellent. A result of the intense research process implemented in the second semester of Millikin's first-year writing course, these essays represent the very best research-driven critical inquiries of the 2012-2013 incoming class. We hope you enjoy reading our selection ofMillikin'ss first-year premier writers.

Dr. Carmella Braniger
First-Year Writing Director
Millikin University

About the Essays

Each author worked extensively with individual student editors to produce high-quality products to be viewed by future first-year students and the larger academic community. Each editor introduces the student author essay.


In this essay—partially inspired by and based on Alena Horn’s 2009 study “Keepin’ it Country: What Makes the Lyrics of Gretchen Wilson Hard?”—Amanda Lee presents her take on gender roles in popular country music. Her perspective comes not only from her love of the genre or her personal experiences; instead, she uses its history and origins to present an in-depth lyrical analysis hits with which many of today’s country fans are familiar. A brief history outlines the ways country music tradition, originally an almost exclusively male tradition, evolved and how it is still present in the country music of both male and female artists today. Ultimately, she neither dwells in the past nor attempts to predict the future of this quintessentially American music scene, but turns the magnifying glass to country music’s current state of gendered expressions. ~ Sophia Maria Andricopulos


Morgan Oliver's essay explores the option of using drama therapy in order to assist adolescents through the grieving process after losing a parent. Prior to delving into the focus of drama therapy itself, she provides an overview of the research that has already been done on grief and the outcomes. She also discusses the key preventative methods that can be used to help reverse the negative outcomes caused by grief. Oliver then looks into art and drama therapy, how they work, and the benefits of their use. She explains connections between drama therapy and specific coping skills teens need for full recoveries from the grieving process. Oliver writes with the goal that research on drama therapy will increase the utilization of and support for this healing method . ~ Caitlin Husted


In this essay, Tyler Ross explores the world of economics and the “roller coaster” path it usually takes. He explains the uncertainty of the economy and brings to light his ideas on what actions the country could take in order to improve. His main point of discussion is technology and the role it plays in economic strife as he walks the reader through the impacts of Information Technology (IT). He includes the upsides and downsides of IT and finalizes his essay with a discussion on the implementation of superconductors. ~ Morgan Ewald


In this essay, Brock Hayden examines the dizzying party culture of college students, who have too little information about the substances they use and too much cultural pressure to partake in this hedonistic lifestyle. He offers up his own university's drug and alcohol culture as an example of the absence of information and the social forces students face. He writes this essay in the hopes that Millikin and other universities will reform their alcohol and drug education programs so that students will be able to face the risks of college life with knowledge and wisdom. ~ Kara Anderson


In this essay, Katie Hobbs takes a critical look at the sensation novel The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. She suggests that Collins manipulates Gothic themes as an unconventional method of inducing terror. Hobbs reveals Collins’s progressive social commentary by highlighting his use of disturbing aspects of common scenery and societal traditions. There is, she writes, a “social horror that is much deeper than the thrilling surface effects of the novel” and she calls for the reader to question what is considered ordinary. ~ Brittany Mytnik

About the Authors

The featured student authors include Brock Hayden, Katie Hobbs, Amanda Lee, Morgan Oliver, and Tyler Ross. Each worked extensively with individual student editors to produce high-quality products to be viewed by future first-year students and the larger academic community.


Amanda Lee is a Commercial Music and Music Business double-major. She participates in the Millikin Collegiate Chorale. Her interest in country music was the driving force behind her essay. After finishing her study at Millikin University, she plans to pursue a career in country music.

Morgan Oliver is studying theater and human services at Millikin. She recently performed in the annual Millikin University Children's Show rendition of The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks. Morgan's essay was inspired by her use of the arts to cope with the loss of a loved one. After attaining her degree, she plans to work in Human Services before attending graduate school to be registered as a Drama Therapist. Afterwards, she plans to create a theater program for underprivileged children.

Tyler Ross is a math major with a finance minor at Millikin University. He is involved in InterVarsity, Math Club, Collegiate Chorale, and works in the Math Center as a tutor. He is also working with a Millikin professor, Dr. Joe Stickles, to write a calculus textbook. Political debate regarding opposing economic ideologies sparked Tyler's interest in the economy. He is considering graduate school for Mathematics or Economics and plans to work in either actuarial insurance or finance.

Brock Hayden is majoring in Theater at Millikin University. He has worked on The Decaturian, Millikin's campus newspaper. In addition to being published in the Millikin's Premier Writer collection, Brock was a runner-up in the Charity Essay Contest. His mother's addiction to alcohol, as well as that of several friends, inspired Brock to write this essay in an attempt to educate others and prevent further loss of life as a result of alcohol abuse. He plans to pursue a career in theater and writing.

Katie Hobbs is double-majoring in English and History with a minor in Music. In her spare time, she plays violin, sings, and is a member of the University of Missouri Philharmonic Orchestra. A longstanding fascination with the work of Wilkie Collins was a deciding factor in the choice of her subject for this essay. When she completes her studies, she plans to enter graduate school to study either English or History.

About the Editors



Editor Sophia Maria Andricopulos come from Mokena, Illinois, and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and a minor in English Writing. She previously studied at Illinois State University and before that at Lincoln-Way East High School, where she was copy editor for the eighth volume of its award-winning yearbook, The Legend. Fueled by a questioning nature coupled with a love for music and academia, she has her sights set on an advanced degree in musicology.

Editor Caitlin Husted is a sophomore English writing and English literature double-major at Millikin University. She works as a tutor in Millikin's Writing Center and is a writer and copy editor for the campus newspaper, The Decaturian. She hopes to one day work at a publishing company in the city as a book editor and says that she will be content spending the rest of her life writing or helping others write.

Editor Morgan Ewald is a junior English writing major with a creative writing emphasis and a theatre minor. She has served as copy editor, senior editor, and is currently the Editor-in-Chief of The Decaturian, Millikin University's student newspaper. She was a member of the MPW editing committee for the first year of the program and has been a member of English Club at Millikin University for three years. Morgan is a James Millikin Scholar and will be completing her research project in 2015. She is interested in a career in publishing or journalism, and enjoys the experience of taking part in MPW.

Editor Kara Anderson is a junior at Millikin University where she is studying English secondary education and philosophy. During the past two years, she has been working as a First-Year Experience Mentor and Writing Tutor for the university. She is also a James Millikin Scholar and was awarded a Presidential Scholarship at Millikin University. Kara has written two award winning narrative essays, “His Name” and “The Door is Open.”

Editor Brittany Mytnik is a junior at Millikin University, majoring in English writing (with a professional concentration) and English literature. In addition to editing one of the individual essays, she serves as the co-founder, lead editor, and coordinator of the Millikin's Premier Writers Program, which includes the contest and anthology. She aspires to work in the publishing industry as a book editor. On campus, she is a James Millikin Scholar, an editor for Bronze Man Books, the design editor for Collage Literary and Fine Arts Magazine, the vice president of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honors Fraternity, a sister of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity, a member of Phi Kappa Phi honors fraternity, publicity chair for the Student Honors Advisory Council, and a member of Millikin's Collegiate Chorale ensemble. She was also the lead editor at Bronze Man Books for the second book in the Let's Talk Kids series, Facing Family Challenges, by Claudia Quigg, released in 2014. She is also the lead student editor for MPW 2013.

Faculty Editor:

Dr. Carmella Braniger teaches first-year writing, creative writing, and literature courses at Millikin University, where she coordinates the First-Year Writing program and directs the English Writing Major. Her poems have appeared in Sycamore Review, Poems and Plays, The Dirty Napkin, MARGIE: The American Journal of Poetry, Modern English Tanka, Magnapoets, Atlas Poetica, and many others. Pudding House Publications published her chapbook, No One May Follow, in 2009. Recently, Dr. Braniger co-published a book chapter entitled “Redefining the Undergraduate English Writing Major: An Integrated Approach at a Small Comprehensive University” in the collection What We Are Becoming: Developments in Undergraduate Writing Majors, published by Utah State University Press. She enjoys collaboratively writing and publishing poetry sequences with fellow English faculty and students.


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