English Majors


Sigma Tau Delta Initiates Five New Members

Sigma Tau Delta Members Spring 2011Alpha Omicron Eta, Hawai'i Pacific University's chapter of the International English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, is perhaps one of the least known honor societies on campus. Yet they are responsible for producing the English Department newsletter twice a semester, which is distributed at English Department events and in upper division English classes; bringing a local writer to HPU to speak once a year; and assisting with various English Department functions. 

The current officers are seniors Tommy Lai (President), Trisha Liu (Vice President), and Megan Higuchi (Secretary), and junior Kate Kincaid (Treasurer). 

New members for Fall 2010: 

  • Stephanie Nakamura is an English major who plans to graduate from HPU in 2012. Last year, she had the privilege of being one of the editors of HPU’s undergraduate literary magazine, Wanderlust. She adores video games and pizza.
  • Sarah McAllister is a third-year English major at HPU. She wants to travel the world, especially Japan, where she plans to find her husband. "Hamlet is love," she asserts. 
  • Maddi Ruhl is an English major, actor, and future physician. She has been in several HPU Paul and Vi Loo Theater productions, the most recent being Is He Dead? in the fall of 2010. 
  • Candy Ford is a junior majoring in English at HPU. She's not quite sure if she wants to teach after graduation, though she does enjoy writing and working with children of Hawaiian ancestry. 
  • Serry Borek was born and raised in Guangzhou, China, and has come to the U.S. because she can think big, works hard, and believes American society provides equal opportunities regardless of race, sex, or class. She is a senior majoring in English at HPU and is graduating this May. She is married with one son.

Kia Hays Graduates Magna Cum Laude

English Major Kia HaysMay graduate Kia Hays accumulated a 3.85 GPA while earning a dual degree (she majored in  English and International Relations). She was president of Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society, which has brought writers to campus for three years in a row, and which established a department newsletter in Spring 2010. Kia was a peer writing tutor for three years, working with students in WRI 1101 and in a pilot program in Spring 2010 that offered writing tutoring to students unable to register for a writing lab. According to Peer Writing Tutor supervisor Angela Gili, "Kia inspires writers she tutors towards independence rather than dependence."

Maddi Ruhl: Accidental HPU Student

English Major Maddi RuhlHad Maddi Ruhl thought to install a pop-up blocker, she would be living a very different life.

While browsing the Internet one night from her home in Highland Park, Illinois, Maddi Ruhl “accidentally” clicked a pop-up ad for HPU.  “Normally I'd just close it right away,” says Maddi, “but I looked at it for half a second longer than usual, followed it to the HPU website, and here I am!” 

Here she is, indeed; Maddi arrived at HPU in the fall of 2008 and now wherever you go, whether within HPU or elsewhere on O’ahu, you are likely to find Maddi Ruhl.  You might have seen her playing flute and piccolo in HPU’s Sea Warrior Band.  You might have seen her playing the tragic lead role of Laura in HPU’s Spring 2009 production of The Glass Menagerie—a role for which she won the Po’okela award for Leading Actress. You might have seen her performing outside HPU, having recently played Jackie in the Hawai’i Repertory Theater’s production of Mauritius

Perhaps you’ve seen Maddi in the upper levels of the Lower Bishop building, where she works for HPU’s Honors Office.  If you spend time in Waimanalo, you might well have seen her on horseback, volunteering for the Manawale’a Riding Center, a therapeutic riding school for disabled children.  The therapeutic effects of working with horses and in the outdoors, Maddi says, accrue not only to the children but to those who work there as well: “People have forgotten the smell of grass.”  Even her theatrical pursuits sometimes lead her into the great outdoors: in fall 2009 she directed a portion of the annual Lotus Diwali Festival held at Ala Moana Park’s McCoy Pavilion.

English Major Maddi Ruhl playing the double flutesIf you’re lucky enough to have a class with Maddi, you might enjoy the end results of yet another of her hobbies: chocolate.  Prior to attending HPU, Maddi obtained a Professional Chocolatier’s Certificate from a culinary school, and she creates and packages gourmet handmade chocolates that will spoil you for commercially prepared products.  You may also notice her carrying around unusual musical instruments—she plays not just the flute and piccolo, but the less typical pennywhistle and sitar. 

Another of Maddi’s less-than-traditional hobbies—one not necessarily chosen by her—is engaging in conversation with society’s less fortunate.  For some reason, Maddi reports, homeless people are often drawn to her, feeling compelled to tell her their stories.  This experience led to a creative nonfiction essay, “A Barrier Called Sanity: Stories from Those Without,” which she recently performed at the Spring 2010 HPU Student Reading.  “What people need, more than anything else,” Maddi states, “more than food, clothing, or shelter, is—other people.  We need to share our stories.  Whether real or fabricated, it doesn’t seem to matter.”  That understanding of the importance of storytelling has led Maddi to major in English (while minoring in just about everything else).

She may have arrived here by accident, but Maddi is making her time in Hawai’i purposeful.  “This is a unique opportunity,” she says, “for a U.S. citizen who wants to feel like she’s going to another country, but without having to deal with all the visas and paperwork.”  She has never regretted following the pop-up ad.  “I've met a lot of really incredible people here,” says Maddi; “I love the mesh of cultures.”  Thanks to all that Maddi has already contributed to our community here in Hawai’i, that cultural mesh is all the richer. 

Sometimes, you’re better off without a pop-up blocker.

By Kathleen Cassity, Assistant Professor of English

Students in the News

Two English majors were awarded prizes in the 2009 HPU Short Scriptwriting Contest. They received their awards at the HPU Student Reading in Spring 2010. The cash awards are supported by the Mark Bauer Fund.

Adapted Script:

First place: Eliza Prusia, Mi Vida
Second place: Tommy Lai, What a Nice Man

Original Script:

Third place: Tommy Lai, Four Intruders