Jackson, Mississippi — Five Phi Theta Kappa members have received scholarships and an additional 19 will have their writing published in the 2017 issue of Phi Theta Kappa’s literary journal, Nota Bene.
Steven E. Rauscher, a former student at the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) in Pennsylvania, received the Ewing Citation Award for the most outstanding submission to the 2017 Nota Bene literary competition and a $1,000 scholarship. His personal essay, “Can They Tell?” beat out nearly 650 entries to take the top award.
Rauscher has loved writing since he was young but began pursuing the art after he dropped out of Rowan University in 2008. He finished at CCP in May 2017 and is now a student at Temple University.
“I had a lot of things to sort out mentally, and the written word helped me immensely in that regard,” he said. “Since then, whether it’s been fiction or non, personal or public, writing has been the force that’s motivated me to go back to school and reminded me of something I’m pretty okay at when the whole going-back-to-school thing gets tough.”
Rauscher’s essay explores the “un-Americanness” of today’s America through his own family heritage: his father’s ancestor signed the Declaration of Independence, and his maternal grandfather was an Iraqi immigrant whose untimely death was rumored to be tied to Saddam Hussein.
“For several years now, I’ve watched the world change around me and said relatively little about it, outside of my group of close friends and those I’ve deemed worthy of reading random rants on Facebook,” he said. “A competition like Nota Bene gave me exactly the motivation I needed to put something together for a larger audience, and I’m legitimately excited to see what conversations come back to me as a result of this.”
The Ewing Citation Award is named in honor of Nell Ewing, a long-time Phi Theta Kappa staff member who was a driving force behind Nota Bene. She retired in 2012 after serving 26 years with the organization.
Four other submissions were also singled out as outstanding, and those authors will each receive a Reynolds Award of $500. This award is endowed by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation and honors the memory of the late Donald W. Reynolds, founder of the Donrey Media Group. The 2017 Reynolds Award recipients are:
- Imelda Socorro Ruiz of the College of Southern Nevada for her poem “Grannie Dress”
- Rebecca Watters of Seminole State College in Florida for her short story “Prologue: Aurelia by the Sea”
- Joshua Gray of Metropolitan Community College in Missouri for his short story “Firewater”
- Maria Isabel Medina de Sklavenitis of Southwestern College in California for her poem “Olvido”
Other works being published in the 2017 issue of Nota Bene:
- “Transgender Lives Matter” by Kaci Sullivan of Madison Area Technical College in Wisconsin
- “Challenging Routine” by Daniel Hurley of Mercer County Community College in New Jersey
- “One Giant Leap for Mankind” by Jasmine Coleman of Spokane Falls Community College in Washington
- “The Millennial Generation” by Rebecca Noelle Summers of Georgia Highlands College
- “Graphic Emotions” by Rebecca Bennett of Delaware County Community College in Pennsylvania
- “In Memoriam” by Harris Armstrong of Front Range Community College in Colorado
- “Symbolized Interpretations: A Reader-Response Criticism” by Alissa Dickerson of Kalamazoo Valley Community College in Michigan
- “Three Times a Lady” and “Of Barns and Fathers” by Sarah Ladd of West Kentucky Community and Technical College
- “The Ultimate Measure” by Benjamin J. Law of Columbia Gorge Community College in Oregon
- “Jacqueline” by Aliyah Harris of Coastal Carolina Community College in North Carolina
- “Diary of a Dying Girl” by Ashley Crunk of East Mississippi Community College
- “To Write” by Olivia Wynn of Tyler Junior College in Texas
- “Cockroaches” by Oyindamola Shoola of Bronx Community College in New York
- “A Secondhand Ode” by Jennifer Flanery of Minneapolis Community and Technical College in Minnesota
- “The Thinker” and “Wait Passionately” by Nicholas Moy of Seminole State College in Florida
- “Haiku Sequence” by Maria Burns of Eastern Shore Community College in Virginia
- “Whether the Weather Likes It or Not” by Arabella Chamberlain of Sauk Valley Community College in Illinois
- “Flight to Oblivion” by Mariana Orrego of Coastal Carolina Community College in North Carolina
- “Broken Heart Note” by Christopher Ray of Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey