Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society focuses on recognizes the educational and literary scholarship of students while cultivating community on campus and fostering literacy in the greater community.
OBU senior Julianne Ford is a secondary English education major and is currently serving the organization as the Student Representative for the Southwestern Region. Ford’s journey with Sigma Tau Delta began at the recommendation of a faculty member.
“I became a member of the OBU Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta in the spring of my sophomore year. Dr. Ezell recommended that I join the organization and submit a paper to its International Convention,” Ford said.
Sigma Tau Delta’s International Convention was set to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada last March before it was cancelled due to the pandemic. Students are able to submit various kinds of work to be considered for presentation at the convention. Many OBU students have presented work at past conventions.
In her junior year, Ford submitted a critical essay about one of her favorite poets. Her essay, “‘So Much Depends Upon’ the Landscape: Environmentalism in the Poetry of William Carlos Williams,” was accepted for presentation at the 2020 convention.
“This acceptance gave me the confidence and momentum I needed to put my name in the running for the Student Representative position. I didn’t think I had a chance of winning the election, so it was really just something fun that I did, a sort of “what-if” scenario,” Ford said. “Fast forward to March 2020–the month of the Convention and the month that the entire country went into lockdown. The Convention was cancelled, but I was notified that I had been selected as the Student Representative of the Southwestern Region.”
Ford’s role as the Student Representative of the Southwestern Region is to serve Sigma chapters and members in Arkansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
“I update Regional social media pages and create content for Society-wide publication. I also create opportunities for members of the Southwestern Region to present their critical and creative works and have these works published in a Regional Journal,” Ford said.
In addition to these responsibilities, Ford is on various committees that aim to better serve members of Sigma Tau Delta. She plays a key role in both the planning and execution of aspects of the national convention, which is scheduled for March 25-27.
On campus last semester, Sigma Tau Delta hosted a Zoom trivia night as well as two book discussions facilitated by English faculty members.
“The most impactful and exciting experience in my time as SR has been the planning and execution of the Southwestern Regional Symposium,” Ford said. “I got to choose the theme of the Symposium and make the promotional posters. This year, I and my Associate Representative, Alana King, selected the theme ‘Expand Your Narrative’.”
The 2020 Southwestern Regional Symposium allowed for members to submit either critical or creative work for presentation and discussion. OBU had students present in both the critical and creative categories.
“[Julianne] has done a very good job in both roles. In our local chapter, she’s done a good job of trying to keep us connected even though there is a pandemic, and that comes with its own difficulties, but Julianne has done a good job of persevering and remaining committed to local events,” associate professor of English Dr. Kaine Ezell said.
Ezell serves the national organization as the Regent of the Southwestern region, as well as sponsoring the local chapter of Sigma Tau Delta alongside professor of English Dr. Sidney Watson.
“Julianne’s been able to bring a lot of good ideas at the national level. She also does an excellent job at trying to establish regional events for our Southwestern Region,” Ezell said. “She and the associate student representative organized a symposium in the fall. That was awesome. It was the first time we’ve done a regional event since I’ve been regent for Sigma Tau Delta.”
Ford’s leadership at both the local and national levels has provided a better sense of stability for a changing landscape surrounding literary discussion and communities.
“It’s certainly not easy leading a club during a pandemic, but I’ve been impressed with Julianne’s innovative approaches to meetings and her ability to keep everyone informed about national activities, especially related to the annual convention. She’s worked very hard this year to make Sigma Tau Delta a success while facing some daunting challenges,” professor of English Dr. Sidney Watson said.
After graduation, Ford will be using her skills in the classroom to teach English.