Each year the English department recognizes graduate and undergraduate students for their distinguished poetry, fiction and academic essays.

Congratulations to our 2020 award winners!

Olivia Stowell ’20 MA received the Margaret Powell Esmonde Memorial Award, recognizing the best graduate essay, for her piece, "Possible, Not Promised: Towards a Diagnostic-Dialogic Mode of Antiracist Method."

Ariana Megerian ’22 CLAS won the Jerome J. Fischer Memorial Award, recognizing the best undergraduate essay, for her piece, "No Infrastructure."

Tia Parisi ’21 CLAS received the George D. Murphy Award in Creative Writing.

Mary Fritz ’20 CLAS received the English/Honors Creative Writing Award.

Joanne Hwangbo '20 CLAS received the Medallion of Excellence.



The Edward McGrath Medallion, the English Department’s Medallion of Excellence, is awarded to a graduating senior each year.

2020 - Joanne Hwangbo
2019 - Caroline Grace Stagliano
2018 - Elizabeth Eby
2017 - Stephen J. Purcell
2016 - Emma Pettit
2014 - John Szot
2014 - Christine V. Tergis
2013 - Alexa I Pastor
2012 - Theresa Donohoe and Nicole Battisti
2011 - Molly Schreiber
2010 - Max Stendahl
2009 - Joe R. Gonzalez
2008 - Angela S. Allen
2007 - Emily M. Trovato
2006 - Thomas Emerson
2005 - Kathryn M. Rutigliano
2004 - John Durnin
2003 - Mari Grace Crosby
2002 - Michael Foley
2001 - Kristin Suga
2000 - Christine Anderson
1999 - Thomas McKinley
1998 - John Giordano and Megan Norcia
1997 - Lisa Tomaszewski
1996 - Mark Spoonauer
1995 - Kelly Beissel

The Jerome J. Fischer Memorial Award is given annually to the most distinguished undergraduate essay written in a Villanova English course. The Fischer Award honors Jerome J. Fischer, who taught nineteenth-century British literature courses, as well as a variety of other courses, at Villanova from 1947 until his retirement in 1983. He died in 1984.

2020 Winner: Ariana Megerian, a sophomore from Tampa, Fl., is a Communications major and Writing and Rhetoric minor. She is the digital editor of The Villanovan and an active member of the Armenian Students Association. Her paper is titled No Infrastructure and it was written for Lauren Shohet's Narrative Television course.

Previous Winners:

2019 - Gracie Stagliano
2018 - Gracie Stagliano
2017 - Blaire Bernstein
2016 - Kevin Madden
2015 - John Szot
2014 - Megan Plevy
2013 - Shanon Welch
2012 - Theresa Donohoe
2011 - Molly Schreiber
2010 - Max Stendahl
2009 - Jamie Kapalko
2008 - Daniel E. Trucil
2007 - Emily Trovato
2006 - Stephen Cornell
2005 - Kristy Wessman
2004 - Mark Napolitano
2003 - Valerie Kate Fernandez
2002 - Rebecca Corcoran
2001 - Michael Foley
2000 - Corinne Welsh
1999 - Jennifer Joyce
1998 - Cara LaColla
1997 - Chris Eagle
1996 - Wendy Anne Tucker
1995 - [not given out]
1994 - Michael DiRuggiero
1993 - Rosemary Scalo
1992 - Mary Kovalchick
1991 - Peter Naccarato
1990 - Sarah Pines
1989 - Anne Marie Ryan
1988 - Jon Lemole
1987 - Jill Stevens

The Margaret Powell Esmonde Memorial Award is given annually to the most distinguished graduate essay written in a Villanova English course. The Esmonde Award honors Margaret Powell Esmonde, who taught at Villanova from 1974 until her death in 1983. She was a specialist in Renaissance literature who also taught courses in science fiction and children’s literature.

2020 Winner: Olivia Stowell is a first-year graduate student in the English department. Her research primarily focuses on racial discourses and narratives in contemporary literature and culture, particularly popular culture. Prior to attending Villanova, she graduated summa cum laude from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA with a B.A. in English and a B.A. in Theatre. At Villanova, she works as a tutor in the Writing Center. Olivia is also a poet, and her work has appeared in Sandy River Review, Ghost City Press, Kissing Dynamite, and other publications; she was also recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She would like to thank Dr. Heather Hicks for her Literary Theory course, which inspired this essay.
Olivia's essay, Possible, not Promised: Towards a Diagnostic-Dialogic Mode of Antiracist Method, was written for Heather Hicks's theory seminar. 

Previous Winners:

2019 - Avni Sejpal
2018 - Nicholas Manai
2017 - Laura Tscherry
2016 - AJ DeBonis
2015 - Eric Doyle
2014 - Theodora Hermes
2013 - Rebecca Hepp, Cara Saraco
2012 - Alexandra Edwards
2011 - Benjamin Raymond
2010 - James McAdams
2009 - Don James McLaughlin
2008 - John Breedlove
2008 - Rebecca Steffy
2007 - Rebecca Burnett
2006 - Karen Y. Lee
2005 - Marc Napolitano
2004 - Victor Sensenig
2003 - Deborah Gross
2002 - Brian Sweeney
2001 - Patricia Crouch
2000 - Laura Giuliani
1999 - Sharon Cournoyer
1998 - Marc Schuster
1997 - Mary Ann Quigley
1996 - Robert Duggan, Jr.
1995 - Gale White
1994 - Gale White
1993 - Daniel Hipp
1992 - Helen Goff
1991 - Sr. Elaine Marie Glanz, I.H.M.
1990 - Katrien Conlan
1989 - Janet Wallin
1988 - Anne Gallagher
1987 - Gregory Sullivan
1986 - Ellen Wilmot

The George D. Murphy Award in Creative Writing honors a longtime faculty member in the English department. The winner is chosen each year by a panel of Villanova faculty and a Philadelphia-area writer.

2020 Winner: Tia Parisi is a junior Biology major with minors in Creative Writing and Spanish from Madison, Wisconsin. She began the Spring semester in Stockholm, Sweden studying translational medicine, but after returning home abruptly, she has enjoyed spending time with her family. Last semester, Tia worked with Dr. Heidi Rose to create and perform her poetry collection, "To Build A Bridge," during a Performance Poetry Independent Study. The collection explores her relationships and experiences as a young woman, and is an embodiment of her passion for family, beauty, and love.


My Mom and Dad's First Kiss

This is the story of my mom and dad’s first kiss.
They met on either side of an apartment door
She wore a black dress
And he wore underwear
Because she said she had a dream that he wore underwear and construction boots
And he wanted to be the man of her dreams
This was that kind of date
This was an
Underwear wearing, pants put back on, tie to the neck, jacket on
Until she gets cold
Jacket off kind of date
An umbrella on the patio, a maybe we should eat inside
No the rain will stop kind of date
Where the rain doesn’t stop
A quick move your things inside kind of date, napkin of the lap, bread on the table, drink menu spliced between the pepper and salt
A restaurant basement, with ceilings low and tall glasses of wine almost touching them
Lanterns anchored to the wall with a thick layer of dust
Rippling in their flames a future of reading glasses and iphone flashlights
Cut the drink menu, kid’s menu
Napkin off the lap, child on the lap, napkin on the floor
Faces flushed from a run through the rain
Light up Sketchers doused by puddle splashing
And grabbing at the iPhone
saying “PLEASE dad let me just read it for you!
You get the same damn thing every time anyway!”
“LANGUAGE! No phones at the table!”
Sweater around her shoulders, off her shoulders, around the child’s shoulders
Nap time on waves of broken leather booth seat
Make sure to tuck the sweater over the toes
It’s always cold in here, they know that by now
This was a stack of menus untouched kind of place
Names carved into the wall with a pen or a house key whichever they had kind of place
Homemade ranch dressing, not up to code, put it on my tab out the door up the hill to the house Kind of place
The rain stops
Back to the apartment nothing to separate them, lean in lean out
Lips on lips off
That fast
A kiss like a raindrop that she wasn’t used to
And he doesn’t remember
But she does, how could she forget
Sickened by the thought that this was going to be a boring story to tell their kids one day
Their kids, in a few years, would disagree

About George D. Murphy

The George D. Murphy Award in Creative Writing honors a longtime faculty member in the English department. George D. Murphy, PhD, received his BA in 1949 and MA in 1951 in English from the University of Notre Dame and his PhD in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania in 1964. He joined Villanova’s English Department in 1954 and retired in 2000 after 46 years of service. His scholarly publications focused on American writers of the 20th Century. While at Villanova, he was known for his exquisite sense of humor and a singular gift for recalling and recounting a host of humorous tales. While an undergraduate at Notre Dame, he was on the editorial board of its literary magazine—The Juggler of Notre Dame—and contributed a number of poems, short stories and critical essays. He returned to creative writing at the end of his life as a way of coping with grief over his wife’s death and produced many first-rate poems.

The winner of the English and Honors Award in Creative Writing is chosen each year by a panel of Villanova faculty.

2020 Winner: Mary Fritz is a senior English and Political Science major from Loudonville, New York. Her piece, “It’s Lewy’s World, And We’re All Just Living In It,” is about her beloved Granny’s battle with Lewy Body dementia.


Granny always had a reputation for being a fast driver, whipping through parking lots and around bends as if her brake needed to be used sparingly. She drove a navy blue 2003 Audi station wagon, compact and with a few small scrapes and dents on the outside, but immaculately clean inside. My siblings and I used to joke that driving with Granny was like being on an amusement park ride. With our legs dangling above the spotless floor mats and arms flying above our heads dramatically, we would laugh and squeal as Granny pulled into the driveway fast or hit a curb on the way to school. She always continued down the road, unfazed.
Over a decade later, I’d be the one driving her Audi station wagon a little too fast, to and from work everyday. Always on two wheels, as a result of poor time management in the morning and sheer jubilation to be done with work in the afternoon. She didn’t fight the orders not to drive her beloved station wagon as hard when she found out that a grandchild needed it for the summer. I assume she thought at the time that this arrangement was temporary, that she would be back on the road as soon as I went back to college. In her eyes, this was nothing more than simply an act of generosity. Another piece of herself, given willingly for me.
Last year, Poppy gave away her car to nuns at the local convent. Because it was a 2003 model, it was worth close to nothing to sell. He got rid of the Audi quickly so that Granny wouldn’t forget what the doctor told her, snag that jingling key ring, complete with fifteen various loyalty and points cards stacked tight, and drive off on her next high speed adventure.

The English Honor Society is composed of senior English majors with high GPAs both overall and in English courses. Members are selected in the spring of their senior year. (They do not have to apply.)

2020 English Honor Society

Allyson Bayless

Natalie Cornacchio

Lauren Kathleen DePiero

Samantha Marie Duffy

Madelyn Dyer

Kelly Marie Faenza

James Michael Finnegan

Isabel Clare Forward

Mary Catherine Fritz

Amanda Kate Gerstenfeld

Audrey Thea Gibson

Micaela S. Grassi

Emma Elizabeth Houghton

Joanne Hwangbo

Hayley O'leary Jellison

Caleigh Noel Manyak

Cierra-Zadiyah Leshay Mendez

Julia Middleton

Ariana Lorene Ramos

Clare Jeanne Reckner

Courtney Lynne Schonewolf

Julia C. Steffy

Jean Elizabeth Tytla

Timothy Robert Warren

Reagan Sheridan Wish

The Villanova English Department’s Core English Honor Roll recognizes students whom instructors have identified as exceptional students in their Core English courses. This honor is for the one or two students in each Core English course who demonstrated the most aptitude in scholarly writing about literature.

For the fall semester of 2020, the following students made the Core Honor Roll:

Ruslan Aminov
Halle Beach
Laura Biesterveld
Claudia Campolo
Jordan Case
Justin Coppola
Mikayla Covello
Eleanor Dalsass
Seamus Daniello
Kelsey Delola
Nick Downing
Bridget Egan
Lukas Gardner
Casey Gartland
Aliye Hargett
Quinton Hosler
Arianna Imperiali
Giulianna Iona
Anna Jankowski
Sydney Karpowich
Jessica Laino
Brian Langa
Aaron Levan
Colin Lily
Elizabeth Lowdermilk
Anna Marcoon
Madalyn McClay
Nicole (Nikki) Merrill
Katherine Moffa
Isabelle (Belle) Morgan
Diana Nelson
Haley Nguyen
Grace O’Toole
Rachel Reardon
Isabella Runyan
Alissa Schembor
Cameron Scott
Casey Smith
Christopher Stewart
Abigail Sullivan
Mikaela Urichek
Maria Chapman Zubieta

The Core Literature and Writing Seminar Essay Award has been given to the best papers written for English 1975.

Previous Winners:

Spring 2019 - Jordan McMeans
Spring 2016 - Katie Vaughn
Fall 2016 - Bella Burda
Fall 2015 - Frank Fazio and Ciara Earrey
Spring 2014 - Nicole Conway
Fall 2014 - Sean Campbell and Kevin Madden    
Spring 2013 - Roderic Hutton
Fall 2013 - Patrick Ciapciak
Fall 2012 - Paige Kennedy and Danielle Sekerak

The Literary Experience Essay Award has been given to the best papers written for English 1050.

Previous Winners:

Spring 2012 - Nicholas Cho
Fall 2012 - Alissa Foti
Spring 2011 - [not awarded]
Fall 2011 - Monica Solis
Spring 2010 - Anne Stohlquist
Fall 2010 - Lien Trieu
Spring 2009 - Michael Tomae, Nakoya Wilson
Fall 2009 - Ellie Garbade
Spring 2008 - Kailee Fowler
Fall 2008 - Greg Cappa
Spring 2007 - Marissa Zator
Fall 2007 - C J Hodukavich
Spring 2006 - Christina Park
Fall 2006 - Jennifer Latz
Spring 2005 - Christian Skonier
Fall 2005 - Stephanie Cody
Spring 2004 - Emily Trovato and Kerri White
Fall 2004 - John Zurbach
Spring 2003 - Monica Borgone
Fall 2003 - Nadia Nauss
Spring 2002 - Elizabeth Micklow
Fall 2002 - Adrienne Sanetrik  
Spring 2001 - Matt Varga
Fall 2001 - Matt Nespoli
Spring 2000 - Andrea Flood
Fall 2000 - Michael Knerr and Ryan Zitnay  
Spring 1999 - Jocelyn Trufant
Fall 1999 - Kate Schramm
Fall 1998 - Megan Knecht

Student Meriel Alexander holds up a "I love Villanova English" sign.

Villanova University
Department of English
St. Augustine Center
Room 402

Department Chair
Professor Heather Hicks