Sigma Tau Delta Engages Students, Despite Pandemic

English, Theatre, and World Languages

PEMBROKE, N.C. (27 October 2020) — Despite challenges to meeting in person, the University’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta continues to engage students and cultivate creativity and camaraderie, welcoming both members and non-members to take part in its activities.

Since the fall semester began Aug. 5, the chapter has inducted new members, elected new officers, and sponsored virtual programs.

“We inducted two members officially into the international organization this fall: Eli Johnson and Tessa Sandoval,” said Laura Hakala, PhD, an assistant professor of English, Theatre, and Foreign Languages and the chapter’s new faculty adviser. “Our current officers are Shannon Derricott Braswell (president), Eli Johnson (vice president), and Krista Pruitt (treasurer).”

During a graduate school information session Oct. 5, English, Theatre, and Foreign Languages professors Nikki Agee, PhD; Peter Grimes, PhD; and Hakala offered advice about preparation and applications to programs focusing on composition and rhetoric, creative writing, and literary studies.

Then, on Oct. 15, poet and editor Andrea Spofford, PhD, led a creative writing workshop. Spofford, associate dean of the College of Arts & Letters and associate professor of Languages& Literature at Austin Peay State University, is editor of Zone 3 Press and author of The Pine Effect in addition to other published poems.

“Dr. Spofford led us through writing exercises about concrete nouns, and she shared some of her works in progress,” Hakala said. “It was a nice break from the stresses of the pandemic. Focusing on our creativity is such a good coping strategy in a time of uncertainty.”

The chapter already is making plans for 2021. “We are planning to have a book discussion in January,” Hakala said. “We’re planning to select a book at our last meeting of the semester, so that students have winter break to read it.”

Hakala invites all students who wish to take part in the book discussion to contact her at

Sigma Tau Delta provides opportunities for students interested in English language and literature to join with like-minded persons on local, regional, national, and international levels and to participate in and present professional work at conferences and conventions.

UNCP’s Sigma Xi chapter invites students majoring or minoring in English to join. For more information, contact Hakala or visit

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