English Department

at the University of Michigan-Flint

Congratulations to Abbie Lemmon, who has been named a recipient of the 2012 Maize and Blue Award.

The Maize and Blue, the most prestigious honor given by the University to graduating seniors, is awarded to a select group of graduating seniors who have a GPA of 3.75 and exhibit both exemplary academic achievement and service to the University and the community. This semester 13 students will receive the award.

Abbie’s intelligence, enthusiasm for learning, openness to new ideas, sense of responsibility for others, and tireless commitment to addressing social inequalities make her a model student and citizen. Abbie brings this dedication to all her educational endeavors. English Professor Mary Jo Kietzman perhaps sums it up best when she says that Abbie demonstrates “passionate engagement” in all that she does.

Her keen enthusiasm for learning has translated into a rigorous academic program, with a major in English with a Specialization in Writing and a minor in Women’s & Gender Studies. Yet Abbie has also been active in extracurricular activities related to her personal and career goals, including serving as a writing tutor at UM-Flint’s and Mott Community College’s writing centers, serving as the president for the campus chapter of Sigma Tau Delta (the English honors society), and writing numerous articles and columns for the Michigan Times.

From her first days at UM-Flint in Fall 2009, Abbie has taken ownership of her education and initiative in getting the most out of her degree, seeking out Department advising and interaction with faculty. As a result she has shown tremendous growth as a scholar, and she now plans to pursue a doctoral degree in composition and rhetoric with a goal of becoming a writing center administrator like her mentor English Professor Jacob Blumner.

Abbie demands intellectual rigor from herself, other students, and faculty. In her course work Abbie illustrates not only strong textual analysis skills, but she has learned much about literary and composition theory, has developed a rich vocabulary in using these theoretical approaches, and is using them thoughtfully to expand her own thinking about the world. From informal chats to formal presentations, her discourse modulates elegantly between the scholarly and the personal, and her ability to include academic terminology alongside colloquial expressions allows her ideas to be both understood and appreciated. Those who have worked with Abbie in courses and in her writing center tutoring note that her demeanor is consistently unassuming yet confident, humble and intelligent.

Abbie is that wonderful student who continues discussing course issues outside of class meetings and seeks to make her education relevant to other parts of her life. A returning student dedicated to her own intellectual growth, Abbie is also committed to making education accessible to others, particularly those who have historically not had equal access to educational opportunities  and whose voices have not been valued.

In Winter 2012 she demonstrated her commitment and ability when she reviewed scores of student submissions to the Critical and Creative Writing Conference, a campus-wide conference organized by students in Sigma Tau Delta. Now as chapter president, a position she began last spring and continues in her final semester at UM-Flint, Abbie has held dynamic membership meetings that have been, for the first time in ages, very well attended. Under her leadership Sigma Tau Delta has created a series of projects in the coming year, including a “Fine Arts Friday” that would bring local high school students to campus to explore the range of possible “careers” and competencies that an English degree facilitates and develops. Under Abbie’s leadership, Sigma Tau Delta may very well be pivotal in the English department’s efforts to publicize more widely the value of an education in the humanities.

In short, Abbie is the reason many of us in the English Department teach and the reason we find teaching at UM-Flint so rewarding. Abbie is an intelligent, articulate, and thoughtful woman who brings a wonderful balance of leadership and intellectual skills while also being a modest and caring person. Dedicated to the value of the intellectual endeavor, committed to making education accessible to all, and tireless in her service to others, Abbie is a very deserving recipient of the Maize and Blue honor, and the faculty of the English Department congratulate her on all of her achievement.