St. Joseph’s University, New York English department alumnae Emily Barlow ’23, M.A. ’24, and Schuyler Dorchak ’23 will present at the Sigma Tau Delta Centennial Convention April 3–6 in St. Louis.
The International English Honor Society’s annual event allows Sigma Tau Deltans from around the world to gather, share ideas and discuss the English language and literature.
Topics of Focus
Barlow, who is working on her master’s degree portion of her dual degree from SJNY — a B.A. in English with a Concentration in Adolescence Education and an M.A. in Special Education — will present her undergraduate thesis entitled “Finding Female Agency, Despite Repression and Sacrifice, in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.”
“I always had a love for the book and movies, and I knew I wanted to focus my thesis on gender studies and feminism since those are topics I am very passionate about,” said Barlow, who served as vice president of SJNY’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta from 2022 to 2023.
“I found the character of Jo and her story to be very fascinating and very relatable as a woman trying to find herself in a ‘man’s world,’ for lack of a better term,” she continued. “The novel does such a good job at describing the struggles of womanhood in relation to marriage, love, identity and gender roles. I knew there would be a lot out there to discuss and argue.”
“I’m beyond honored and excited to be accepted into this conference,” Dorchak, 22, said. “I was the president St. Joseph’s chapter of of Sigma Tau Delta my senior year, and it is so special to attend this conference. I’m looking forward to sharing this experience with my amazing friend, Emily.”
Although Dorchak felt frustrated with the protagonist in “Jane Eyre” upon her first reading, she found a new outlook — on both herself and the book — after compiling ideas and doing some research.
“I explored how love does not need to be based on physical intimacy within a text and can still hold so much power, and how as women we find our power,” she said. “I was fascinated with how a text written in the Victorian era resonated with so much going on in the world today. At the time, I was working on myself and my growth, and Jane’s journey made me look inward at myself and my decisions as a young woman.”
Growing at St. Joseph’s
Both Barlow and Dorchak credit the same two professors at SJNY with having the biggest impact on them: Judith Phagan, D.A., professor and chair of English; and Peter Mascuch, Ph.D., associate professor of English.
“Dr. Phagan made me a better student and writer,” Dorchak said. “She pushed me where I needed, and she also supported me through a very difficult time of my life. Dr. Masusch was a wonderful mentor and is still a constant support in my life.”
Barlow, 22, feels the same.
“Dr. Phagan really pushed me to be the best writer I could be, and I truly believe that her scholarly writing course, as difficult as it seemed then, made me beyond prepared for writing thesis,” Barlow said. “I don’t think my thesis would have been selected if it wasn’t for her preparation.
“As for Dr. Mascuch, I really wouldn’t have this opportunity if it wasn’t for his guidance and support,” the Ronkonkoma resident continued. “He was my mentor for thesis, and he was always so patient and helpful. He always gave the best advice and feedback. Both of them truly helped me develop not only as a writer, but as a student and person, and I am so grateful to have had them to guide me.”