Students from WWU Present Writing at International Convention

Two William Woods University students were recognized for their writing ability recently when their work was selected for presentation at an international convention.

Laura Tenney of Fulton and Nancy Olsen of Odessa, Mo., were honored at the Sigma Tau Delta English honor society’s international convention March 29 through April 1 in Portland, Ore.

Katricia Pierson, WWU assistant professor of English and Sigma Tau Delta sponsor, said she was incredibly happy and proud of the students.

“They competed for a spot that large universities compete for and WWU held their own,” Pierson said.

Tenney, a senior double major in social work and English, is the president of the honor society at William Woods. She submitted a collection of poems titled, “Pieces of Time.”

All of the poems in the collection are special to her in different ways, Tenney said, but the poem that is especially important to her is an untitled poem in two sections.

An excerpt from the poem is:

“He stares at me for a moment,

As though searching deep

Through my eyes

And then…


He returns my smile

There is a hint of remembrance

In his steel, ocean blue eyes.”

“It is very important to me because it is about my grandfather and the relationship that I have with him,” Tenney explained. “I feel like this poem can help other people who have family members with Alzheimer’s disease realize that they are not alone.”

Tenney hopes to be able to teach others to write as a form of creative expression. She is also a member of the social work honor society and has interned at the Rosa Parks Center. After graduation she would like to be a counselor and work with youth in an academic or treatment center.

Olsen, a junior double major in English and equine administration, submitted a fictional short story called “Wild Fires.” It is about a mother and her son caught in a wild fire on the plains.

The story begins, “Hot air scorched her lungs, the breath forced through her burning throat. One hand shielded her eyes and the other held a cloth to her mouth, trying to keep the ash and scorching smoke from entering her airways. Intense blue eyes scanned the area ahead of her, tears running in profusion from them and mixing with the ash and soot smeared on her face.”

Olsen said, “I’ve always loved writing, the inspiration for this story came from an extra-credit assignment in English class.” She added, “I’ve always been fascinated by natural disasters. Wildfires aren’t written about very often so I was trying to go for something unique.”

She also submitted a critical essay about Sarah Orne Jewett’s short story “The White Heron,” with an archetypal criticism.

An honor student, Olsen is also a member of the Writer’s Ink club on campus. When she graduates she would like to work as an editor at a publishing company.