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Friday, May 23, 2008

Literary duo

Mother-daughter duo found success, satisfaction in SCSU’s English department
By Mary E. O’Leary
Register Topics Editor
NEW HAVEN
— Literary success appears to be part of the DNA of a mother-daughter team graduating this week from Southern Connecticut State University.
Lois Lake Church, 50, earned a master’s degree in English, while Julie Church, 22, will have a bachelor’s degree in English and plans to pursue an advanced degree in fine arts next year at the University of Wyoming.
Each of the women edited campus literary magazines at Southern and have been recognized for their writing.
The ceremony for undergraduates is today FRIDAYat 10:15 a.m. at the Connecticut Tennis Center, while two ceremonies for graduate students were held Thursday.
Julie Church, a resident of Hamden, is editor-in-chief of Folio, the university’s undergraduate literary magazine, while last year she was its editor and took second place in Folio’s poetry competition.
Lois Church, a former high school teacher, is founder and editor-in-chief of Noctua Review, a literary magazine for graduate students. She won second place in the university’s short story competition two years ago and earned a similar ranking this year in the Connecticut State University System competition.
Lois Church, also a resident of Hamden, had a full plate at Southern, where, in addition to her own studies, she was an adjunct instructor in the English department and a tutor in Southern’s writing center. During the summer she worked in a program for students who needed extra help.
“The English department is fantastic,” Lois Church said of her experience at Southern, particularly creative writing courses, where she discovered she had a talent for writing short stories. “I’m getting pretty good at it,” she said.
In her capacity as an adjunct professor, Lois Church has dealt with advanced students and those who needed extra help, but she said both groups were a joy to teach. Others apparently feel she did a good job, as Church received the J. Philip Smith Outstanding Teacher Award for a part-time faculty member at her graduation ceremony Thursday.
Daughter Julie completed two years at Bryn Mawr and transferred to Southern after working a year in France as a nanny. She said she has never regretted the decision.
While there was quite a cost savings in attending a state university, that was not the reason she did it.
“I wanted to be close to my family,” Julie said. She said her mother’s assessment of Southern’s English department was correct.
“It is a really great place,” Julie said. The soon-to-be graduate hopes to make a living, at some point, from writing fiction. In the meantime, she will look into the publishing world, after earning her master’s degree.
At today’s graduation exercises, Julie and her classmates will hear from environmental activist Trudie Styler, who will deliver the commencement address.
Styler founded the Rainforest Foundation, along with her husband, rock legend Sting.
The organization works to protect rainforests and indigenous people in Asia, South America and Africa.
Styler has been recognized by Amnesty International and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Mary E. O’Leary can be reached at 789-5731 or moleary@nhregister.com

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