Cooper Broadsheet September 2011

The William G. Cooper, Jr. Honors Program in English
University of Arkansas at Little Rock

New Cooper Honors Program Director:

Greetings from the Director of the Cooper Program,

Some of you may not know that Dr. Zabelle Stodola is no longer Director of the Cooper Honors Program.  Dr. Stodola served as Director of the program for 7.5 years; in that time the program has prospered and our students have shown remarkable success in the Undergraduate Research events on campus.  Dr. Stodola also presided over the 10th anniversary celebration of the Cooper Program.  I know that we all want to thank Dr. Stodola for all her hard work as Director.

I am Dr. Paul Yoder, and I am  the new Director of the Cooper Honors Program.  Many of you know me, and I look forward to meeting the rest of you soon.  If you have any questions, problems or suggestions for the Cooper program, please contact me by email at  I check my email compulsively.

I served as Cooper Director in the late nineties, and I believed then as I do now that the Cooper Program is here to support the intellectual growth of our students in any way we can.  We provide a number of stipends on a competitive basis, but we also serve the broader department and community.  We support student travel for research to libraries or literary conventions like AWP, and we support a lecture series that is free and open to the public.  If you have an idea for the program or news for the Broadsheet, please contact Dr. Yoder.  You can learn more about the Cooper Honors Program at our website.

In Memoriam:

LaPara Nicole Washington (1976-2011) was an early graduate from the Cooper Program. She graduated in 2001 after being mentored by Roslyn Knutson for her project on post-colonial interpretations of Edmund Spenser. LaPara obtained a teaching position at J. A. Fair High School in Little Rock, where she taught until her death in July 2011.  She obtained a Master’s in Education and was only a few hours shy of a degree in the Educational Administration and Supervision Educational Specialist Program. The Graduate School is hoping to award her a posthumous degree since she was so close to graduation. LaPara’s death is not only a loss to the educational community but also to the intellectual community. She had a rare and brilliant intellect and was hoping to do a PhD in literature someday.

Let me just add that, like many of our faculty, I taught LaPara.  LaPara was a wonderful student, respectful, but forthright and thoughtful in discussions.  She was smart and she played well with others.  We’ve missed her since she was here as a student.  We miss her more now.

Cooper Stipend Recipients 2011-2012:

The following students received Cooper Honors Stipends for the 2011-2012 academic year:

Second Year:  Sam Brown, Katherine Diggs, Justin Edge, Lacey Greer, Tonya McCollum, Mary Rainey, Matthew Stewart, Frederick Weed

First Year: Kassie Adkins, Stephen Burns, Josh Cameron, Tamra Creed, Deannah Johnson, Stephanie Mantell, Seth Pennington, Philip Sherrod, Hannah Ulvik

Congratulations to the stipend recipients for their excellent work.  If you are interested in applying for a Cooper Honors Stipend, please contact Dr. Yoder at, or talk to any English faculty member.

New Faculty:

In recent years the UALR English Department has been able to bring some excellent new faculty, including Dr.  Brad Minnick and Dr. Trey Philpotts.  Last year we hired Dr. Kris McAbee (, from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and this year we hired poet Nickole Brown, MFA from Vermont College (, and Dr. Laura Barrio-Vilar ( from the University of Kentucky.  The Cooper Program will host an opportunity to meet the new faculty and hear about their work on Thursday, September 15, at 6:30pm in DSC Meeting Room D.  “Heavy” hors d’oeuvres  will be served at 6:30, and at 7:00 Profs. McAbee, Brown and Barrio-Vilar will introduce themselves and talk with us all a bit about their work and interests.  Come out and meet the new teachers!

Planning for Grad School?

Thinking about grad school?  How do you choose?  When do you apply?  Do you need to take the GRE?  What is the GRE?  The Cooper Program will sponsor an introduction to applying to grad school in early October.  Stay tuned.

Student Success:

Josh Belden is working for Covenant Keepers College Preparatory Charter School, an urban inner-city school with a rigorous academic program accompanied by strict structure and discipline.

Rob Bruno received an Honorable Mention for the Student Research Expo Award and a scholarship to the Oxford American Summit for Ambitious Writers.  He was also accepted into MFA programs at Rutgers and the University of Arizona.

Melissa Carrion was awarded a Teaching Assistantship, and has begun the M.A. Program at Wright State University in Dayton, OH.

Justin Carroll had two stories accepted for publication, “Trains at Night” by Juked and “Cockroaches at Thanksgiving” by Saltgrass.  He has a TA at Texas State University.

Phillip Garcia is beginning his second year in the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Suzi Garcia received the Whitbeck Award and was accepted into MFA programs at Rutgers and the U of Arizona.

Charlie Green (UALR 2000, Cooper Honors and Donaghey Scholars, Whitbeck Award) earned his PhD at Cincinatti, and is now a Visiting Lecturer at Cornell.

Alisha Karabinus received a SURF fellowship this summer to continue work on a novel.  Her story “Resale” was a finalist in Hollins University’s national undergraduate fiction contest in February.  Also she was accepted into MFA programs at Texas State University, University of Memphis, and Purdue University.  She is a TA at Purdue.  She also founded and serves as executive editor of the online literary journal Revolution House (

Jordan Ryan was awarded a Teaching Assistantship, and has begun the M.A. Program at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX.

Rain Story is a screenwriter/script consultant in Los Angeles.

John Stout was accepted into the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts and will begin the program this winter.  He received a cash award for his presentation at the AHSS Undergraduate Research Symposium last spring.

Amoja Sumler sent this report over the summer

I will be showcasing for the National Association for Campus Activities (the first Arkansan poet to do so), my spoken word album “The Red Pill” is on i-tunes (again the first Arkansan poet to have such an offering), and I have recently been picked up by the prestigious Indiefeed podcast for Spoken Word/Poetry.  Also, I am a finalist for the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest.

Stephanie (Haley) Williams teaches legal writing courses at Pulaski Tech and the UALR Rhetoric and Writing Department.

Samantha Youngs has started graduate school at the University of North Texas, studying to be a librarian.

We also have a number of graduates doing very well teaching in the local school systems, some for quite some time.  Among these are Angelique Jackson, Jamie Wood, Tony Shepherd, Erica Ivy, Ashley Richardson, Denies Gaskins, Julia Markham.

*The featured image in the header is “Sunset in Death Valley” by Beau Rogers (UALR English 2008).  You can see more of Beau’s photographs at


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