Students Honored With Clavan Award

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Five Saint Joseph’s students have been recognized with the Sylvia Clavan Award, given in honor of the University’s first female professor. Recipients are acknowledged for their projects in the areas of gender studies, women’s studies and feminist theories. The awards are given to students who complete outstanding work such as written research projects, creative pieces, service or activist projects that result in an academic paper, and Summer Scholar Program research.

Maire Dekle ’09, Jennifer Hannan ’10, Maureen Saraco ’09, Michael Mungai Nyambura ’10 and Brittany Keesling ’10 were given the award by the Gender Studies Department.

Dekle, a sociology and English double major, received the award for her creative writing piece “The Wrongs of (Young) Woman; or Maria’s Daughters,” which was written for the Gender Studies Honors course Women’s Writing as Emancipation. The piece is a creative response to Mary Wollstonecraft’s incomplete eighteenth-century novel Maria: or, The Wrongs of Woman. Dekle created several alternate endings that portrayed women in different ways.

“I tried to show how some of the lessons Maria learns within the course of the novel would play out in her daughter's life,” explained Dekle.

Hannan was also awarded for a creative writing piece written for Women’s Writing as Emancipation, in which she created a meeting between three notable women in nineteenth-century American history: educator Catharine Beecher and fiction writers Elizabeth Phelps and Fanny Fern. The story illustrates the competing expectations placed upon women to “do it all.”

“I wanted to create a plausible, engaging interaction among three of literature's most talented and influential early women writers,” said Hannan.

English major Saraco received the award for her short story written for the class that describes a young woman who is indecisive about a man in her life. She explores feminist themes through its subtext of the Jersey shore.

“There's so much pressure on women today to be successful in all aspects of their lives, and I wrote this story as a way to deal with that,” Saraco said. “The character is doing everything right, and going through the motions of what she's supposed to do in order to be considered successful, but she's still left wondering if it's right.”

Mungai and Keesling worked together on a Summer Scholars research project in Nairobi, Kenya, where they supplied sanitary pads to girls at a local school in Nairobi for a period of three months to analyze the impact of the availability of pads on school attendance and performance.

“Accessibility of basic needs like sanitary pads for impoverished schoolgirls in Africa is an under-addressed issue that the world needs more focus on,” said Mungai.

Results indicated no significant difference in attendance even after the free supply of pads, since many of the girls sold the pads to buy basic necessities like food and clothing.

The awards were distributed at the annual dinner held on April 16 by the gender studies program to honor recipients of both the Sylvia Clavan Awards and Women of Purpose Award. Each recipient was individually recognized by the person or persons who nominated them.

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