The national awards from the School of Journalism at Columbia University attracted more than 8,000 entries in the more than 243 categories. Brandon Shuler, who is pursuing a master’s in literature at UTPA, placed second in the humor category for magazines with his essay “How Jonathan Swift Saved My Marriage.” Beatriz Guzman Velasquez, a senior majoring in art and English, received two certificates of merit for her poetry “Santa de las Embarazadas” and her portfolio of illustrations and artwork for the magazine. Amanda de la Fuente, a junior majoring in sociology, received a certificate of merit for her page design for the magazine.
Claude (Britt) Haraway, UTPA lecturer in English and adviser for the “Gallery,” said he was glad the students received the national recognition during their first time competing for these awards.
“I think it’s good to know that our work we do here is just as relevant and lively as any work that is produced around the country. It’s nice when somebody at Columbia says your work is interesting and exciting,” Haraway said. “Our students have such rich stories to tell in all of these formats.”
Shuler, a native of Port Mansfield, Texas, said he was shocked at his award and was proud of the accomplishments of the magazine as a whole.
“I only received a commended performance from UTPA’s judge, so to go from fourth place at the local level all the way to second place out of thousands of entries at the national level was quite surprising,” Shuler said. “Columbia’s School of Journalism is world renowned and to receive this kind of recognition is astounding.”
Shuler said the awards give students a platform to show the nation what UTPA writers and artists are producing.
“The validation of the work Britt Haraway and the students have done is the greatest source of pride for me,” Shuler said. “Beatriz's artwork was phenomenal and her poem was empathetic, shocking and beautiful. It proves there are a few original voices coming up in the Valley and she should lead our art and literature into a new level of recognition and appreciation.”
De la Fuente said she was ecstatic to be recognized for her design and contribution to the literary arts.
“This is just the cusp of my artistic output under UTPA's wing,” de la Fuente said. “These prestigious awards not only legitimize ‘Gallery’ in the national venue, but also the importance of UTPA's student voices and perspectives on the world.”
Work in "Gallery" is chosen, designed, and published by UTPA students enrolled in the ENG 3334 class. The 2009 editor-in-chief was Krista Salinas; literary editor was Tomas Guerro; design coordinator was Samantha Koch; and art director was Katrina Pena.
“Gallery” includes student essays, artwork and photography and is accepting submissions for the 2010 publication. Students are encouraged to submit works by Dec. 9 to have priority consideration.
"The editors and the students in the class did an amazing job of putting together an exciting issue in a such short period of time," Haraway said. “I think it’s great for people to realize that we can make a really beautiful literary magazine using student’s contributions.”
For more information about the magazine, visit www.myspace.com/utpagallery