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English announces Gorniak Scholarship winners

The Department of English is pleased to announce two scholarship recipients for the 2014-2015 Michael S. Gorniak Memorial Scholarship: Courtney Harrell, an English/Creative Writing major, will receive $1,000, and Kara O’Brien, an English/Creative Writing minor, will receive $500.

Courtney Harrell is a senior Creative Writing major who wants to use her degree “to tell the stories that aren’t being told and help the writers that aren’t being helped outside the academic community.” She has worked as a writing consultant in the CU Denver Writing Center, helping a diverse student population become better connected with their own writing abilities. She also organizes extracurricular peer workshop groups with other writers on the Auraria campus. She has won awards for academic excellence, including consistent appearances on the Dean’s List and the receipt of the Academic Athlete Award. Her writing appears/is forthcoming in both Westword and Kine Magazine. She is currently completing her honors thesis in fiction, and will be beginning another senior project in nonfiction to showcase stories of everyday people and places in the Denver community.

Kara O’Brien is a 5th year senior Music major and English/Creative Writing minor.She began volunteering as a writer and editor for the Harry Potter Alliance three years ago, and is now the leader of the Communications Department. The Harry Potter Alliance uses literature and stories of all kinds to get young people interested in current social issues, and empower them to take control of the world around them. The projects in which she’s been involved have included sending three cargo jets of life-saving supplies to Haiti after the earthquake, donating over 250,000 books to under-privileged children in several countries, and building a library for a school in the Bronx. Her current work with the HPA involves collecting books for library in Detroit. Kara writes, “My writing classes at CU Denver have helped me to understand myself and the world around me in many various lights. Now I am finally beginning to pull all these strands together, my own life and passions, my great love of reading, and my abiding faith that the world around us can be changed to reflect the world within.”

Courtney and Kara both exemplify the spirit of Michael Gorniak through their idealism and strong commitment to their fellow writers and readers. In receiving scholarships, these two students stand as positive models of the student writer, both dedicated to their craft and their community. The Department of English congratulates them, as well as all of the applicants for this scholarship, for honoring and preserving the memory of Michael S. Gorniak.


September 25, 2014

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