Student Success

We take pride in our students' dedication and hard work, and this section serves as a platform to share their success stories, motivating and inspiring others to reach their full potential in their academic journey.


English student and Rhodes Scholar Cassidy Serhienko receives the 2023 Rose Litman Medal in the Humanities

Congratulations to former English Honours student Cassidy Serhienko, who won the Rose Litman Medal in Humanities at the Fall 2023 convocation. The prize is awarded annually to the most distinguished graduate receiving a Bachelor of Arts four-year degree or honors degree in the humanities.

One of only 11 recipients in Canada, Serhienko was previously awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to pursue her Master’s in English Literature, with a focus on contemporary feminist writing, at the University of Oxford in England. 

Cassidy completed her B.Ed degree in 2021 and her BA in English Honours in 2022 at the University of Saskatchewan. During her time as an undergraduate student, she volunteered as a peer mentor and a transcriber on the Canterbury Tales Project, and worked as a substitute teacher in the K-12 system. She grew up on a cattle farm outside of Maymont, Saskatchewan, and has participated in 4-H and other agriculture programs throughout her life. Her rural roots have encouraged her to value the importance of community engagement and leadership. She also runs a social media profile dedicated to book reviews and book-related content where she enjoys moderating and participating in conversations about popular literature. Cassidy hopes to take her passion for literature, literacy, and education to support students from rural communities as she pursues a professional career in academia.

 Cassidy Serhienko

MFA in Writing student Owen Schalk's recently published book, Canada in Afghanistan: A Story of Military, Diplomatic, Political and Media Failure 2003-2023 (Lorimer)

 Owen is one of our talented MFA in Writing students who has just published a thought-provoking book, showcasing his intellectual prowess and literary finesse. Born in Winnipeg, Owen is the author of Canada in Afghanistan: A story of military, diplomatic, political and media failure, 2003-2023 and the co-author of Canada’s Long Fight Against Democracy with Yves Engler (upcoming, February 2024). He is a writer of short stories, novels, political analyses, and essays on film and literature. He is a columnist at Canadian Dimension, and has written for Alborada, Monthly ReviewProtean Magazine, and many other publications.

His journalism centers on both domestic and foreign policy matters within Canada. Explore his December 2022 piece in Monthly Review, titled "Ecological imperialism and the Canadian mining industry," to delve into the analytical perspective he employs for Canadian policy. Additionally, examine "Degrowth is the only path to a sustainable future" and "Redwashing consumerism will not save the planet" to understand his linkage of this analysis to issues like climate change, unequal development, and the call for more ecological lifestyles.

Owen has authored articles discussing film and literature for various platforms, including Canadian Dimension, Monthly Review, Liberated Texts, and his personal Medium page. In November 2021, Monthly Review featured his critical analysis titled "Disney, Salò, and Pasolini’s Inconsumable Art," exploring the modern culture industry through three films by Pier Paolo Pasolini.

For a glimpse into his fiction writing, explore "Freighthoppers," released by Fairlight Books in spring 2022, and "She’s a Beauty," available in the summer 2023 issue of Vast Chasm Magazine.

Cheer to Meaghan Kackinen, MFA in Writing graduate, who published her second book, Shifting Gears.

Meaghan Marie Hackinen is an ultracyclist and writer from Kelowna, British Columbia. Her two-wheeled travels have brought her from Haida Gwaii to the high plateaus of Mexico, across Canada and the United States, and along some of the highest paved roads in Europe, from North Cape to Tarifa. She participates in competitions both domestically and abroad, placing highly in races such as the Paris-Brest-Paris brevet, Trans Am Bike Race, Transcontinental Race, and NorthCape4000. Meaghan has won multiple bike-packing competitions, including The Big Lonely, BC Epic 1000, Silver State 508, and Log Driver's Waltz (overall record), and she holds the women's course record for the World 24-Hour Time Trial Championships.

Meaghan has an MFA in Writing from the University of Saskatchewan and explores relationships, experiences on the road, and encounters with wild places in her creative non-fiction and prose.

Meaghan gained recognition for her writing and authoring her first book, South Away, which was inspired by her MFA thesis. The book chronicles her incredible 25-day trek on the Trans Am Bike Race, which involved riding from Oregon to Virginia coast-to-coast. To complete this incredibly difficult task, Meaghan had to rely solely on her cunning, inventiveness, and unwavering willpower without the assistance of a support crew. A sports narrative with a distinct premise, Meaghan explores the Trans Am Bike Race as a cultural phenomenon while dealing with the unanticipated fallout from an underground, unofficial sporting event. Another masterfully written travelogue, Shifting Gears offers an exciting look into the world of sportsmen who are motivated to reach unimaginable heights.

Congratulations to MFA in Writing graduate Sarah Ens, whose long poem Flyway (Turnstone Press) won the 2023 ReLit Award for Poetry: Flyway started as Sarah's award-winning MFA Thesis.

Sarah Ens is a writer and editor based in Treaty 1 territory (Winnipeg, MB). She is the author of two books of poetry, both published by Turnstone Press and both shortlisted for the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award. The World Is Mostly Sky, her debut collection, was also nominated for the Lansdowne Prize for Poetry, and Flyway, her long poem, was the 2023 ReLit Award winner for Poetry. Winner of The New Quarterly's Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest and Room Magazine's Short Forms Contest, Sarah has published poetry and non-fiction in magazines including Prairie Fire, Arc Poetry Magazine, Contemporary Verse 2, and Poetry Is Dead.

Sarah holds a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and an MFA in Writing from the University of Saskatchewan. A freelance editor and copyeditor on a variety of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry projects, Sarah is the Manitoba and Saskatchewan representative for The Writers' Union of Canada and the sales and marketing supervisor at the University of Manitoba Press.


English Ph.D. student wins USask graduate thesis award

Congratulations to Kyle Dase, who has been awarded the 2022-23 University of Saskatchewan Graduate Thesis Award, PhD in Humanities and Fine Arts, for his dissertation, “Friendship and Sociability in the Verse Letters of John Donne.”

Dr. Dase’s dissertation employs the interpretative framework of sociability to analyze the verse letters of John Donne. Donne’s letters are contextualized as “literary objects that are not only representative of social exchange but are themselves social artifacts whose presence in multiple contexts and perspectives performs and generates social connection.” The dissertation examines classical models of friendship in the letters; the letters as metaphors of the sender despite physical absence; and the social configurations and reception of early modern manuscripts. The study uncovers a need for a new editorial practice emphasizing “sociability and social relationships by employing a network visualization as its primary user interface.”

 Kyle Dase

English Students Honoured at Undergraduate Awards Reception

The Department of English hosted its annual Undergraduate Awards Reception in April 2023.

Award recipients in 2022-23 are as follows:

Award for Excellence in English Studies Hannah Tran
Reginald J G Bateman Memorial Scholarship in English Ava McLean
Avie Bennett Prize in Canadian Literature Eunice Domingo
Elizabeth Brewster Memorial Scholarship Kaitlyn Clark
Rose Litman Medal in the Humanities Timothy Nickerson
J.B. McGeachy Prize in English Ana Cristina Camacho Alarcon
Yuans Award in Canadian Literature Hannah Tran
Ronald and Mary Dyck Memorial Award Kaitlyn Clark
Erin Paulhus
Hannon Scholarship (English) Elisabeth Bauman
Kaitlyn Clark
Eleandra Craven
Paige Humeny
Ben Jorgenson
Averi Markus
Ava McLean
Erin Paulhus
Jen Slager
Rahul Gautham Veliyil Edwin
Jamen Willis
Mary Lou Ogle Award Paige Humeny
Roscoe R Miller Scholarship Bailey Schaan
Hannon Travel Scholarship Ava McLean 
Jen Slager
Rahul Gautham Veliyil Edwin


 Students celebrate with their certificates at the English event.

English student Ava McLean won the Copland Prize and Award for Excellence in English Studies.

Ava is an M.A. thesis student who joined the program after completing her B.A. (Honours) in English at the U of S in 2023. Ava's Master of Arts degree is funded by a Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council together with a College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies 75th Anniversary Recruitment Scholarship. Eventually, Ava hopes to pursue a doctoral degree in English literature.

Ava is particularly interested in 20th-century British literature, and her thesis focuses on the seaside, memory, and narration in Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day and Graham Swift’s Last Orders

In addition to the historical and cultural studies philosophies that Ava intends to examine in her thesis, she has a keen interest in literary adaptations, group dynamics in literature, and mid-century play. She conducted an interview with actor-director and professor emeritus Henry Woolf for an undergraduate thesis that studied the life and career of Woolf's close friend Harold Pinter. In the future, she wants to investigate collaborative and interdisciplinary methods by using the interviewing skills she's gained from this experience.

 Ava received the award at spring convocation from Dean of Arts and Science Peta Bonham-Smith.

Distinguished graduate in the English Honours program, Timothy Nickerson, awarded the Rose Litman Medal in Humanities

Congratulations to former English Honours student Timothy Nickerson, who won the Rose Litman Medal in Humanities in the fall 2022 convocation. The prize is awarded annually to the most distinguished graduate receiving a Bachelor of Arts four-year degree or honors degree in the humanities.

Timothy was previously awarded the R. A. Wilson Memorial Scholarship, the Reginald J. G. Bateman Memorial Scholarship, the Hantelman Humanities Scholarship, and the Joel and Lilly Green Memorial Award, recognizing academic achievement in both undergraduate and graduate studies.

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English Undergrad student Nakita Funk receives USURJ "Best Paper" Award

Nakita wrote one of the two papers selected as "Best Paper" published in the USURJ in 2022.

 “What do Christina Rossetti and Emily Ratajkowski Have in Common?: Gendered Power Dynamics in the Relationship Between the Female Model and the Male Artist”, by Nakita Funk, creatively draws parallels between the objectification of women as depicted in Rossetti’s poem “In an Artist’s Studio” written in the nineteenth century and an essay published in 2020 by the supermodel Emily Ratajkowski.

Nakita says "during my undergraduate degree, time seemed to move so fast with all the assignments and deadlines and stress. Volunteering at USURJ helped me slow down a bit and appreciate the work that I was doing, and that other students were doing. I think that as students, it is important to recognize that our accomplishments and progress exist outside of grades, and USURJ is a great platform for that purpose. I was honoured to receive the Best Paper Prize last year, but even more so, I was honoured that other people were reading my work and that it is continually accessible to anyone who may be interested in the topic. I look forward to reading the works of future Best Paper Prize recipients."

Congratulations Nakita and good luck in your future endeavors!

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MFA in Writing graduate Tea Gerbeza receives USask Graduate Thesis Award in the area of Fine Arts & Humanities

In May 2022, MFA in Writing graduate (2021) Tea Gerbeza was chosen to receive the University of Saskatchewan Graduate Thesis Award in the area of Fine Arts & Humanities for her long poem How I Bend into More.

Gerbeza has been working on the project for a number of years, but she didn't realize what she needed to write until she discovered the MFA in Writing program. Gerbeza acknowledged that she was able to share this aspect of her personal life because of the support, insight, and deft editing abilities of her mentor Jennifer Still, faculty member Sheri Benning, and program head Jeanette Lynes. Although the narrative touches on a number of Gerbeza's own experiences related to trauma, and internalized and external ableism, she found that one of the key themes that runs across the work is consent.

The project also features paper quilling, a papercraft involving strips of paper rolled together and formed into decorative images. The art pieces are interspersed through the work, interacting with the words to lend another element to the long poem. This is where Gerbeza sees the theme of consent emerge as she uses the narrative created by the paper quilling to allow her to reclaim her body on her own terms.

Paper quilling is another papercraft in the project that involves rolling paper strips together and shaping them into beautiful shapes. The artwork is dotted throughout the narrative, connecting with the words to add yet another layer to the lengthy poem. In order to reclaim her body on her own terms, Gerbeza uses the story the paper quilling creates to highlight the issue of consent.

While Gerbeza is still polishing the manuscript before contacting publishers, some passages from the lengthy poem have appeared in a number of periodicals and literary journals: a journal of poetry and poetics:


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