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Two ULM English instructors awarded grants for humanities projects

Published January 3, 2017

MONROE, La. — Two faculty members in the School of Humanities in ULM's College of Arts, Education, and Sciences were awarded grants from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH) worth $4,527.


Ms. Vanelis Rivera, English Instructor, was awarded the 2016 LEH Rebirth Grant worth $1,789 for her project entitled, "The Write to Word: ULM Storytelling Initiative." The project strives to host creative writing workshop for women in local shelters. Shelters including Project 41, The Wellspring, and Rays of Sonshine will all be approached to participate in the effort. 

This initiative will be conducted through a series of 75-minute workshops held once a month starting in February and ending in May of 2017. Sessions will include short lectures and discussions, small group activities, as well as writing time, and ongoing feedback. 

An emphasis will be placed on the purpose of storytelling, writing with story structure, engaging descriptive language and dialogue, and using tone, voice, and style appropriate to writing situations. During the workshops, Rivera hopes that through storytelling participants can all have a better understanding of the human experience. 

“One of the goals of this project is to build bridges, understand and be compassionate towards one another," said Rivera. "It is beneficial to know that everyone has a story, and that we are closer to the human experience than we give us credit for.”

Also involved in the project are Meredith McKinnie, School of Humanities Instructor, Jaleesa Harris, School of Humanities Instructor, and Dr. Jack Heflin, School of Humanities Instructor. 

The second grant from the Louisiana Endowment was awarded to English Instructor Mrs. Lesli Rambin. The project entitled, "Byway Blues: A Guide to Northeast Louisiana's Blues History," was awarded the 2016 Rebirth Grant worth $2,738.

The grant funds will be used to continue field research trips for production of the radio segment, "Byway Blues," which airs on 90.3 KEDM, Public Radio. 

In addition, Rambin will coordinate the production of a specialized brochure of the Northeast Louisiana's blues history that includes driving tours through Northeast Louisiana's blues history and GPS coordinates marking historically and culturally significant sites. The material will be distributed at rest stops and welcome centers across the state, as well as in select locations in Mississippi and Arkansas.  

“I’m hopeful that these brochures will serve as a precursor to an actual physical Louisiana Blues Trail, commemorated with regional art,” said Rambin. 

Dr. Ruth Smith, ULM Director of the School of Humanities, said that these grants from the LEH were significant.

“The LEH grants are highly competitive, and for two of our Humanities professors to have received them is a significant accomplishment.”