Date of Defense


Date of Graduation




First Advisor

Becky Cooper

Second Advisor

Jennifer Townsend


student creations; location; humanity; compilation; interactions; relationships


In its eighteenth edition, the only undergraduate literary journal on Western Michigan University’s campus returns with more phenomenal student creations. The Laureate, led this year by senior Hannah Ryder, compiles fiction, non-fiction, plays, poetry, art, and photographs to provide a yearly snapshot of the best work from the university’s brightest individuals. Inside, the pieces explore not only what it means to be an individual, but how different surroundings and influences shape characters and experiences. The journal kicks off with a photograph staring up at a golden-leafed tree, representing both hopefulness and light. It then moves quickly and seamlessly through a mix of poetry and prose reflecting on how location influences life, as well as how quickly time can either change life or keep it the same. As the pages keep turning, readers get swept away by the various relationships depicted in the next few works, understanding how interactions with others so drastically influence lives. Later, the creations turn inward and whisk readers into the psyche of narrators whose internal struggles are both recognizable and fresh. Art peppers the journal, whether it be chalk pastel blended effortlessly or brass and copper with patina twisted into jewelry. A poem published in both Spanish and English delights readers as they flip pages, next arriving to a story once again focused on a significant loss within a relationship. Inward growth and reflection on what makes a name come next, followed by an earthy picture of mushrooms, one covering two smaller ones like a mother. The final poems speak to two sides of humanity: one is a soft moment with nature, the other is a call to action to rise against injustice. When the journal comes to an end, the final photograph of two silhouettes set against a beaming sunset again reminds readers of the importance of location and various relationships within the compilation, bringing the hopeful goldenrod color full-circle.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Essay_Laureate.pdf (74 kB)