Category Archives: Special Activities

Environmental Writing Susquehanna Kayak Trip

On October 3rd, Dr. Mando’s Environmental Writing class went on a kayak trip as part of their Susquehanna Stories Project through Shank’s Mare Outfitters. For many, the Susquehanna River is just that expanse they cross on their way along the Pennsylvania Turnpike or a troublemaker for the Chesapeake Bay, but for students from ENGL 466: Environmental Advocacy Writing, the river is a source of inspiration. These students have been tasked with telling stories of the river, focusing on the people, plants, animals, and places that make the Susquehanna a valuable connection to our area. What better way to start that process than by getting into the river itself?

The class floated the river to gain a sense of place that will drive the writing they do on behalf of this magnificent, threatened, and often overlooked American waterway. Their goal is to capture in writing both the aesthetic and cultural value of the Susquehanna along with the threats that face it. Many organizations from the Susquehanna’s headwaters to its mouth in the Chesapeake Bay are excited to hear what flows from our student advocates. River Stewards, a Susquehanna-focused organization, funded the excursion in its entirety. This surely demonstrates the value of the work our students do!

The trip was attended by Liz Amoriello, Abbie Breckbill, Domenic DeSimone, Jessie Garrison, Skyler Gibbon, Shelby Hall, Anthony Miller, Jonathan Rivera, Kyle Steffish, and Kelly Umenhofer.

The students set off on a calm evening in early October, taking double kayaks from south of Wrightsville down to Fishing Creek and back in the section of the Susquehanna known as Lake Clarke. Because it is between two dams, this part of the river is much more like a lake than what normally comes to mind when we think of rivers. This lake-like stretch has caused the students to think of how differently they may have to communicate environmental issues to citizens located along the banks of Lake Clarke among lighthouses, seagulls and jetskis than they would in the river’s northern reaches of grass islands, exposed rocks and riffles.

These kinds of rhetorical issues regarding context and audience really come to life when you’re out there in the middle of the river. You can’t help but imagine the native Susquehannock settlements of the distant past and their dugout sycamore canoes juxtaposed with the brightly colored kayaks we floated. You look to the top of Turkey Hill where a landfill, a processing plant and windmills now have the high ground and then your eyes focus on the mottled white of a swooping osprey. You come ashore and the ground feels different; it’s not just your soggy shoes, it’s the sense of being part of the sweeping flows of time and place that we as individuals can passively float or choose to paddle against.

On October 24th at 4:30pm, there will be a reading of the student’s Susquehanna Stories at Saxby’s as a part of Sustainability Month.

Photos and Article from Dr. Mando


Literary Festival – Panel Discussion: “The Writing Life”

Millersville University is hosting a Literary Festival in the McNairy Library Room 100 on November 2nd from 9am to 5pm with a keynote speaker at 7pm. Guest writers will hold sessions on writing fiction, poetry, memoir, creative essays, and journalism throughout the day. Check out the full event schedule here

From 12:05am to 1:55, the literary fest will shift into room 112 for a panel discussion composed of recent Millersville alums about “The Writing Life.” Here is some more information about the panel members:

Phil Benoit, a retired MU professor, has narrated 23 audio-books, which are listed for sale on Audible. A former college faculty member and administrator, he is the co-author of several college textbooks on communications and broadcasting.

Mitchell Sommers is the fiction editor of Philadelphia Stories, a quarterly literary magazine. He is an attorney practicing in Lancaster and Ephrata.

Barb Strasko, who appeared earlier in the day for the poetry panel, is the author of two collections of poetry and was appointed the first Poet Laureate of Lancaster County by the Lancaster Literary Guild. She is a counselor, reading specialist, and literacy coach. and is currently the Poet in the Schools for Poetry Paths in the city of Lancaster.

Alex Brubaker is the Manager of the Midtown Scholar Bookstore and Director of the Harrisburg Book Festival. Previously, he was the Exhibit Coordinator of the Twin Cities Book Festival and the Editorial Assistant at Rain Taxi Magazine in Minneapolis.

During this section Dr. Corkery and his theatrical troupe will make an appearance.

Be sure to check out this panel and more on November 2nd!


Literary Festival – Poetry

Millersville University is hosting a Literary Festival in the McNairy Library Room 100 on November 2nd from 9am to 5pm with a keynote speaker at 7pm. Guest writers will hold sessions on writing fiction, poetry, memoir, creative essays, and journalism throughout the day. Check out the full event schedule here

Sessions 2 and 3 of Millersville’s Literary Festival will focus on poetry. Session 2, which starts at 10am, will feature Le Hinton and Jenny Hill. Session 3, which begins at 11am, will feature Barb Strasko and Michele Santamaria. Here is some extra information about the guest poets for these sections:

Le Hinton is the author of six poetry collections and his work has been widely published and nominated for various awards such as the 2016 Pushcart Prize, the 2016 Best of the Net, and inclusion in Best American Poetry 2014. His current collection, Sing Silence (formerly A Chorus for Cotton), was a finalist for “The Best Prize for People of Color” from Big Lucks and an honorable mention for the Dogfish Head Poetry Prize.

Jenny Hill is the author of six books of poetry, two of prose, and is a teaching artist in the Arts-in-Education program with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She has been teaching creative writing for the past 18 years and her work has been anthologized in high school textbooks and appeared in numerous literary journals.

Barb Strasko is the author of two collections of poetry: Graffiti in Braille and On the Edge of Delicate Day. She was appointed the first Poet Laureate of Lancaster County by the Lancaster Literary Guild. Her poem “Bricks and Mortar” is engraved in granite in Lancaster’s main square.

Michele Santamaria works as a Learning Design Librarian at MU. She was a reader for the South Carolina Review and inaugural poetry editor for the journal Cherry Tree. Her poems have most recently appeared in BayouBellingham Review, and Portland Review. In her current manuscript, Michele is writing about Technicolor movies, family history, beauty, and race.

Class Trip to Columbia, PA – Open Seats!

If you travel just over 8 miles away from Millersville, you will get to the town of Columbia, Pennsylvania, which the nineteenth-century historian Robert Clemens Smedley labeled as the birthplace of the Underground Railroad.  In his published account of the Underground Railroad’s presence in Pennsylvania, Smedley describes Columbia as a key station on the Underground Railroad because of its proximity to the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, just across the Susquehanna River.

On Friday, October 19, 2018 two sections of Dr. Jakubiak’s class ENGL 333 African American Literature will travel to Columbia to learn more about this part of local history. They will participate in the guided tour of Underground Railroad, led by Christopher Vera, the President of Columbia Historic Preservation Society. Students will first visit Underground Railroad Exhibit at Miller Manse, where they will see many railroad artifacts and photographs. Then, they will walk to Smith & Whipper Lumber Mill, Thaddeus Stevens, first black settlement, Bank & Bridge Co. building, William Wright’s homestead, and Wrights Mansion, all sites with historical ties to Underground Railroad. The tour will end with questions.

Students will travel to Columbia with Shultz Transportation in two groups at the following times:

  1. Group 1: Departing from SMC at 9:30am, returning to Millersville at noon.
  2. Group 2: Departing from SMC at 12:30pm, returning to Millersville at 3pm.

There are a few seats open on both tours. If you would like to join this trip, please e-mail Dr. Jakubiak at

Literary Festival – Flash Fiction Contest

Millersville University is hosting a Literary Festival in the McNairy Library Room 100 on November 2nd from 9am to 5pm with a keynote speaker at 7pm. Guest writers will hold sessions on writing fiction, poetry, memoir, creative essays, and journalism throughout the day. Check out the full event schedule here

The Millersville University Literary Festival is sponsoring a Flash Fiction contest!

Submission Criteria:

  • Millersville students only
  • 1,000 word limit
  • Submit here (click on the “Submit Here” link) by October 15th at 11:59pm

The night before the festival (November 1st), the student fiction prize will be awarded at an open mic event in Saxby’s from 7-9pm. The winner will win a $100 prize and a spot in the George Street Press literary magazine.

Please submit your stories and come out to the open mic on November 1st!

Literary Festival – Fiction and Flash Fiction Presentation

Millersville University is hosting a Literary Festival in the McNairy Library Room 100 on November 2nd from 9am to 5pm with a keynote speaker at 7pm. Guest writers will hold sessions on writing fiction, poetry, memoir, creative essays, and journalism throughout the day. Check out the full event schedule here

Session 1 of the Literary Festival will focus on Fiction and Flash Fiction.  Presenters Curtis Smith and Don Helin will discuss writing fiction from 9-9:50am. Here is some more information about the presenters:

Curtis Smith has been featured in over seventy literary journals and is the author of five books of fiction. His work has been cited by The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, The Best American Spiritual Writing and the recently released WW Norton anthology New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction. His most recent book is Lovepain, a novel from Braddock Avenue Books.




Don Helin is the author of five thrillers that draw from his military experience serving in a number of stateside posts as well as overseas in Vietnam and Germany. His novel, Secret Assault, was selected as the best Suspense/Thriller at the 2015 Indie Book Awards. Don is a member of International Thriller Writers, Military Writers Society of America, Penwriters, a state-wide writers group in PA.





Taking TIFF in 2018

Millersville students traveled to the Toronto International Film Festival September 6-12 to explore the world of cinema at the Western Hemisphere’s most important film Festival.  Festival attendees enjoyed 12-15 films during their stay, including

  • Michael Moore’s new documentary Fahrenheit11/9
  • Teen Spirit (with a discussion by the director and cast)
  • The Homecoming, a new projThe Homecoming TIFF 2018ect by producer/actor Julia Roberts (with discussion by Roberts and cast after the film, pictured below right)
  • Neil Jordan’s Greta (with discussion by the director and cast)
  • George Tillman’sThe Hate U Give (with discussion by director and cast)
  • 3 Faces(by Iranian director Jafar Panafi)
  • The Image Book (a video essay directed by Jean-Luc Godard)
  • Cruz and Bardem in Farhadi’s Everybody Knows
  • Alfonso Cuaron’s semi-autobiographical film ROMA (with a discussion by Cuaron)
  • Emma Tammi’s horror-western The Wind (with a discussion by director and cast after the screening)
  • The Public (with a discussion by first-time director Emilio Estevez and cast, including Alec Baldwin and Christian Bale)
The TIFF 2018 Crew on King Street

As Industry Conference participants, the group also attended industry events, including a conversation with eclectic producer/mogul Nina Yang Bongiovi, who presented advice on working in the industry.

Students also were able to experience screenings in the last operating double theatre in the world, the Elgin/Winter Garden.  Students enjoyed the eclectic array of films from non-narrative cinema (Jean-Luc Godard’s The Image Book) to documentaries (Fahrenheit 11/9) to genre films (Greta) to foreign cinema (3 Faces) as well as the gracious hospitality of Toronto and its tasty food.  They even got to experience midnight screenings with the students on Ryerson University campus.

–Jill Craven

Pen America’s World Voices Festival Update

Karrah Keck is a Public Relations Major at Millersville University who went on the trip to Pen America’s World Voices Festival in NYC with Dr. Jakubiak’s New Dimensions to World Literature Class last semester.

On Thursday, April 19th, 2018 my English class taught by Dr. Jakubiak traveled to New York City to hear a panelist of authors from all over the world speak at a convention called Cry, the Beloved Country. The festival was for Pen America’s World Voices Festival which is centered around bringing together world literature and ideas.

The group of authors we listened to each read a piece of their writings in their own native language to authenticate and appreciate its origins. Every single piece that was read dealt with a conflict that each author’s country experienced and had to endure. For Cry. the Beloved Country there were a total of six authors:

  • Ryszard Krynicki: Poland
  • Serhiy Zhadan: Ukraine
  • Marcos Aguinis: Argentina
  • Ngugi wa Thiang’o: Kenya
  • Hwang Sok-yong: Korea
  • Negar Djavadi: Iran/France

After each had finished, the audience was able to meet the authors and have them sign any works they had written. This was a great time for me and my class. Some of us brought along our book The River Between written by Mr. Ngugi wa Thiang’o that we had read in class and got to not only have him sign our novels but to ask him questions about the book we had discussed so heavily. All of the questions we had about the book he was able to answer. To actually meet an author who had written one of my favorite books we had read all semester was such an amazing experience.

Some of us didn’t have any pieces of literature written by the authors, but that did not stop us from talking to them about their inspirations and experiences. I had four out of the six authors sign my program that I was given so I didn’t go away completely empty handed. Every author I spoke to was so insightful and had such grace to their craft that I could not help but feel inspired when they spoke to me. Discussing literature in a classroom is beneficial but hands down, nothing beats talking to the author that actually wrote it.

Taking this trip was one of my favorite things of my freshman year here at Millersville. I cannot even begin to express how fortunate I feel to have been given the opportunity to go and hear this group of authors speak. It is something I truly will never forget. It opened my knowledge of the world and had me think, truly think about the impact that conflict has on literature and the impact literature has on us as humans. It was a privilege and an honor to be a part of something greater than myself. It’s not only eye opening, it is life impacting. I will forever be grateful that I took advantage of this opportunity and went on this trip of a lifetime.

-Karrah Keck


Break the Chain: On Screen/In Person

On September 27th, the popular On Screen/In Person series is back for a third season, starting with Break the Chain, produced and directed by Laura E. Swanson and Kirk Mason.  Break the Chain is an award-winning feature-length documentary film that highlights the growing child sex and labor trafficking industries through first-hand accounts of survivors and interviews with those working to raise awareness and create solutions.

Break the Chain Official [Trailer] HD – Laura Swanson

No Description

The evening at the Ware Center will begin with a pre-film panel at 6:15pm, including Dr. Karen Rice, Chairperson of the School of Social work at MU; Ms. Pam Pautz, Executive Director of the North Star Initiative; Sarah Fritz, Community Outreach Coordinator for the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office on behalf of The Campaign Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children (CASE); and Ms. Elizabeth Bell, Awareness Representative from She’s Somebody’s Daughter. The film will begin at 7pm, ending with a Q&A session led by director Laura Swanson.

Produced and Directed by Michigan documentary filmmakers, Laura E. Swanson and Kirk Mason, “Break the Chain” is an award-winning feature-length documentary film that addresses the often hidden-in-plain-sight issue of Human Trafficking within Michigan communities and the United States. The film chronicles two survivors of Human Trafficking – providing a detailed look at how trafficking goes unnoticed within our backyards. Kwami, a child survivor of Labor Trafficking, was enslaved for nearly five years with three other children in Ypsilanti, Michigan before anyone noticed. Debbie, a survivor of Sex Trafficking, takes us through her experience of being sold for sex around the Detroit-area between the ages of 13 and 18. –

For more information, visit the Ware Center page. For free student tickets, contact Christine FilipponeImage Credit

Student Profile: Kaylee Herndon

Kaylee Herndon
Kaylee Herndon

Kaylee Herndon, a current sophomore and Sports Journalism major at Millersville University, has been attending Bowers Writers House events for three years. The house, founded in the spring of 2010 right outside Elizabethtown College, is an interdisciplinary venue for expression, study, presentation and performance. The public events–usually between 12-15 each academic semester–are always free. From dramatic readings to musical performances to interactive panels, the Writers House’s program is diverse and welcoming to readers and writers alike.

Kaylee first got involved in Writers House because she lived so close to the Bowers Writers House. She has always been involved in the writing/journalism scene; she was the head editor of the E-town ExPRESSion, and wrote for both the Elizabethtown Advocate and The Torch. Also, she is a blogger on Figment, where she was a featured author in 2015. She has also been featured in the VOX magazine, a local publication of Elizabethtown College, and on The Virtual Cavern. Kaylee also runs her own personal blog where she posts articles and miscellaneous works of fiction.


At Made in Millersville, Kaylee presented her feature-style profile piece “‘A Different Space: Inside a local Writers House.” The piece focuses on Elizabethtown College’s Writers House and its director, Jesse Waters. She explained what the house is, some of its struggles, and its connections with the local community and other writers houses. (You can find her abstract for the article on this site by searching “Herndon” at the top)

In the future, Kaylee will continue working with Writers House by finding events professors and students at Millersville would enjoy and organizing the Emerging Writers Festival.