Seniors get personal with reading of college works


Staff writer

For six creative writing majors, the third set of senior readings on Dec. 1 served as a space to share their work and growth over the past four years at Susquehanna through the reading of their own pieces.

The readings consisted of works by seniors Virginia Baynum, Julia Raffel, Sean Dillon, Marissa Spratley, Laura Augustinos and Kerry Hyland. Associate Professors of Creative Writing Karla Kelsey and Catherine Dent hosted the event.

Baynum, a self-pronounced lover of classic movies, read two pieces for the evening, both heavily contrasting in style. According to

her, the first was a descriptive piece inspired by one of her grandparents’ view of the Great Depression. Taken from her novel, the excerpt described a photo of a boy from that time era that sat in the narrator’s parents’ house, giving off a sense of loneliness and emptiness. After reading this serious piece, Baynum then read a humorous piece that mocked modern Hollywood and the cliché elements it takes in order to have an award-winning film.

Next to share her work was Raffel, a senior with the hopes of teaching English in Japan next year. Raffel read a series of “short shorts” that discussed the struggles of an adolescent girl and her older brother following the death of their mother. The excerpts she selected appeared to take place over several years as the siblings change in attitude and behavior in response to being raised without a mother.

Dillon, a senior who found his passion for writing during his junior year of high school, read from a short story. Throughout the story, the narrator discussed his father’s strong smoking habits and how, as a child, the narrator’s mother attempted to prevent the father from smoking around him. The narrator then contracted asthma from second-hand smoking of his father, despite his mother’s attempts.

Sprately, a double-major who is studying creative writing and environmental studies, read three pieces. First, she read a fictional short story about a young couple who visits the boyfriend’s alcoholic and irresponsible mother who has recently had another son. The other two nonfiction short stories were about her experience of seeing her grandparents’ home after it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and about her grandmother cooking gumbo.

Senior Deb Martin said, “She did a really good job, and I felt very captivated in the story,” in regards to Sprately’s pieces.

Augustinos, who had switched majors from elementary education, read three short excerpts and a poem. The pieces varied in terms of fiction and nonfiction, but all of the works she shared were based off significant events that occurred in her life.

Hyland, a member of Alpha Phi Omega and music director of WQSU, was the last to recite one of her works for the evening. Having a love of nonfiction, Hyland shared several pieces from a memoir that discussed alcohol and its effects on her family.

Hyland discussed a memory about how her father had passed out from being drunk and how it brought her mother to tears. She then shared an event where she, herself got drunk in her home town during her college years, and how the event had an impact on her in disappointing her mother.