Honors Students sweep national competition

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By Lisa Potter, science writer, University of Utah Communications

Last week, three University of Utah Honors College undergraduates accepted Western Regional Honors Council (WRHC) awards based on creative works submitted to Scribendi, an annual literature and arts magazine for honors students across the United States. Nat Quayle Nelson won the short fiction award for her piece, “I Think,” Hannah Slind’s “Reliance” took the poetry category and Lauren Thurgood won the top award in visual art for her piece, “Vulnerability.”

The undergrads competed with 598 submissions from 110 schools. With one awardee per category, the U Honors College students swept half of the six total categories. The students each received $250 and will be published in the 2019 edition of Scribendi. They received their awards at the WRHC Conference on March 29-31 at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.

“This is a tremendous honor for these three students and a reflection of the quality of education and support from honors faculty at the U. I’m so proud that they represented the U’s Honors College in Montana,” said Sylvia Tori, dean of the Honors College.

This is the 13th year in a row that University of Utah honors students have won WRHC awards for submitted work to Scribendi, a magazine opened to submission from all honors programs from 900 institutions in the nation. Honors colleges are housed within public and private higher education institutions across the U.S. Undergraduates who qualify can apply to complete an honors bachelor degree. The University of Utah Honors College is open to students from all disciplines, and complete seven courses and produce an original scholarly thesis.

Congratulations to the 2019 University of Utah WRHC awardees: 

Nat Quale Nelson, “I Think,” WRHC Short Fiction Award

Nat Quayle Nelson is a transfemme college student from Salt Lake City studying writing and rhetoric. Her writing shines a light in dark places through imaginative mindfulness, comedy, and queer representation.“I wrote a speculative fiction story inspired by a one of my favorite stories, “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream,” by Harlan Ellison. He wrote about an archetypal artificial intelligence that wants to torture and kill humans. In fiction, AI is outright evil, but in reality technology’s threat to humanity is actually pernicious and subtle. The story is about a woman doing experimental therapy where she’s confined to her house with an artificial voice as a life coach/therapist. It explores a neo-liberal concept of what it means to be healthy, the idea that being healthy is being self-contained, but without any interaction with anyone else.”

Hannah Slind, “Reliance,” WRHC Poetry Award

Hannah Slind is an English and Mathematics major, and grew up in Salt Lake City. Her writing is primarily shaped by considerations of gender politics and observations of the natural world. She cites David Foster Wallace, Tao Lin, and e e cummings as her major inspirations.“I had this experience earlier this year where I was raped. This poem was intensely personal—it flowed out, I just wrote it. My poetry is heavily involved with form, how it’s arranged on the page. Spatially you can see this influence when you see my poem. I think that the nature of the trauma made the words come out spotty, splattered. That’s way I originally wrote it, and that’s the form that it’s still in. I think it’s important for a piece like this to be published because what happened to me is typical. I feel like often times rape is perceived is a rare tragic occurrence, but it actually happens to a lot of people. Giving it a fair slice of representation is really important.”

Lauren Thurgood, “Vulnerability,” WRHC Visual Art Award

Lauren Thurgood is a psychology major originally from Fort Collins, Colorado who has painted with oils and acrylics for over 13 years.“Vulnerability is a portrait of one of my closest friends that I’ve had since middle school. It’s part of a series of five paintings that tells a larger story on thunder storms and human emotions. In ‘Vulnerability,’ she’s laying underneath a thunderstorm in a pool, being physically vulnerable, open to the rain, and it also has a metaphorical meaning. I’ve always felt comfortable sharing my emotions with her, even when we were little. Still to this day, I can always be open up with what I’ve experienced. Now we’re attending different colleges, but we’re still close.”

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