SMUniverse features creative works by students from Saint Martin’s and North Thurston schools

April 30, 2014

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LACEY, Wash. – The Saint Martin’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society, will celebrate the second annual publication of the university’s literary and artistic journal, SMUniverse, with a reading at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 7, in the O’Grady Library’s Benedictine Reading Room. The journal, which was edited by members of the society, includes creative writing and visual art by current SMU students. For the first time this year, SMUniverse is also publishing stories by the winners of the Teen Short Story Contest organized by the Lacey Loves to Read program at North Thurston Public Schools.

“Our students have put together an excellent edition,” says faculty sponsor Jamie Olson, Ph.D., associate professor of English. “I’m impressed with the editorial work that the members of Sigma Tau Delta have done this spring, and I’m happy that they’ve continued the tradition that we began last year with the inaugural issue of SMUniverse.”

The two North Thurston students whose stories appear in the journal are Aiyana Leetch, a sixth-grader at Woodland Elementary School, and Megan Jacobs, a junior at Timberline High School. Leetch’s story, “Ruby,” describes a small red planet projected to crash into our own, and it ends with chaos reigning on Earth: “As I look south toward home from our spot in the high desert I see the smoke fires rising from the city. The planet covered in swirling red and white clouds looms above it all like a huge, angry eye.”

Jacobs’ story, “Irresponsible,” concerns a boy named Andy who is routinely chastised by friends and family for his forgetfulness and unreliability. After a misunderstanding, the boy is wrongly accused of bicycle theft: “It’s the police officer that sits dutifully at his desk that says it. ‘Irresponsible.’ He says a few other things too, but that’s not really the main focus. Andy’s the only other person in the room, and he stares at the cracked, bare ground and sits on the bench provided for him…”

Betty Ramirez, the Sigma Tau Delta chapter president, hopes that the stories by the two contest winners will inspire others to write and share what is in their imagination. “The subjects of the stories amazed me,” says Ramirez, who will graduate this spring with her B.A. in English. “These are apocalyptic, simple and humorous, everyday-life stories. Having them in our magazine helps motivate everyone to write, and they remind us adults to step out of our adult shoes!"

Ramirez led the editing of this year’s issue of SMUniverse, with layout and design done by Amy Pollard, a junior English major and chapter vice president. Other chapter members helped judge submissions and make final selections for the journal. Besides the two stories by Leetch and Jacobs, SMUniverse includes 32 works by Saint Martin’s students, from lyric poems to longer essays and stories, and from photographs to line drawings. The journal’s striking cover was designed by Makenzie Wetz, a 2013 SMU graduate and former member of Sigma Tau Delta.

“We have a talented group of committed students,” says faculty co-sponsor Julia Chavez, Ph.D., assistant professor of English. “It is a pleasure to see them sharing their intellectual enthusiasm with the campus community.”

Sigma Tau Delta was founded in 1924 at Dakota Wesleyan University. Its mission is to foster all aspects of the discipline of English, including literature, language and writing; provide cultural stimulation on college campuses; promote interest in literature and the English language in nearby communities; and confer distinction for high achievement in the discipline of English.

Kappa Upsilon, the local chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, was founded in 1968 by the late Leslie G. “Les” Bailey, Ph.D., a beloved and longtime professor of English at Saint Martin’s. It is one of more than 800 active chapters in the U.S. and abroad, each of which promotes exemplary character and good fellowship among its members. Students who join the chapter make a commitment to serve society by fostering literacy and sharing their enthusiasm for the English language and its literature.

The reading and celebration on the evening of May 7 will include light refreshments. For more information, please write to

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 23 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

For additional information:

Jamie Olson
Associate professor, english department

Meg Nugent Dwyer
Media relations manager