by Hope Dorman
To start off the semester, we have some incredible news about a recent graduate! Rebecca Parks ’15 has been teaching English in Ankara, Turkey on a Fulbright Scholarship. While that alone is a remarkable accomplishment, she has also just gotten notification that she will be published in The Sigma Tau Delta Review, the critical journal of the English honor society Sigma Tau Delta and won two prizes – the Frederic Fadner Critical Essay Award and the Judson Q. Owen Award for Best Piece Overall.
Her award-winning paper is called “Passing, Performing: Constructing a Modern African-American, Female Queer Identity in Nella Larsen’s Passing”. She says, “I had originally written [it] for Professor McDaneld’s American Lit 356. Basically, it’s a paper about the tremendous difficulty of balancing three marginalized identities, in this case in early 20th century New York. My essay references the works of a few big names in queer theory, namely Christopher Nealon and Heather Love.” This is her first major publication, though she previously had a small creative nonfiction piece published in a “small queer literary magazine”.
About her time in Turkey, she says it “has been çok güzel (very beautiful, a FAVORITE phrase in Turkish) thus far. I am trying as much as possible to branch out of the “expat” community, so I’m trying to learn as much Turkish as possible, I live with three amazing Turkish roommates who make me food and tea and dinner and all the things, I go to the theatre (Ankara has a ton of theatres and there’s always plenty of plays to choose from) as a fun way to immerse myself in and try to learn the language, Of course, I try to travel whenever I can; so far I’ve been to Istanbul, Cappadocia, Prague, and Stockholm. I can’t wait to see more of Turkey, there’s so much here I’ve yet to see!”
Rebecca is very excited and grateful to be abroad right now. She says, “Everyday I wake up and think ‘wow, this is so crazy that I am only 22 years old and this is my life right now.’ I’m very lucky. I would encourage all UP English majors to try for the Fulbright. I wasn’t sure about it when I first signed up, but now I am very glad that this is what I ended up doing with my first year out of undergrad.” She hopes to pursue her Ph.D. in American Literature upon returning from Turkey.
Rebecca stands as an example of the incredible accomplishments one can achieve with their education at University of Portland. As this semester comes to a close, seniors, keep Rebecca in mind as a source of inspiration for paths to take in post graduation life; and for first, second, and third year students, consider the Fulbright and submitting critical essays for publication!