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2016 Convention Stories

If At First You Don’t Succeed...

Julia WooleverJulia Woolever
Webmaster, Alpha Epsilon Alpha Chapter
The College of New Jersey, Ewing, NJ

We begin our story in December 2014, when I received an email from Sigma Tau Delta I knew would tell me if my paper had been accepted to the 2015 convention in Albuquerque. I opened the message and read my fate: “Unfortunately your paper has not been accepted to this year’s convention.”

I was disappointed, and honestly a little embarrassed. I wasn’t sure where to go from there, but eventually pulled myself together, and decided that Albuquerque would be as good a place as any. I volunteered at the registration desk, chaired a session, and had a wonderful time bonding with the other members of my chapter and English majors from around the world.

Fast forward one year later, when I received another email from Sigma Tau Delta that I knew would tell me if my paper had been accepted to the 2016 convention in Minneapolis. I braced myself for the worst, reminded myself that I should be proud of having submitted at all, and opened the message: “Congratulations! Your paper has been accepted to this year’s convention.” I was thrilled and more than a little relieved.

Convention Award

Fast forward again to March 5, the closing day of the convention. I had spent my time in Minneapolis fully immersed in the wonderful world of literature. There was the Jane Austen panel in which fangirling over Colin Firth was not only accepted as serious criticism, but encouraged. There was the Careers for English Majors workshop in which I met an alumna who has my dream job at the New York Philharmonic. And of course, there was my own panel on Postcolonial Literature, which was actually moderated by someone whose dissertation I had cited in my paper. These kinds of personal connections are completely unique to Sigma Tau Delta, and they made my convention experience so fulfilling.

Given all of this, you can imagine my shock and surprise that things got even better that night when my paper was announced as First Place in the Critical Essays on British/World Literature category. As I walked across the ballroom to collect my prize, I thought of that wintry day in December of 2014 when I received the rejection email. I had grown so much since then, in writing skills, in confidence, and in happiness. Prize or no prize, I had found home in Sigma Tau Delta. It was with me the whole time.