WMU News

Honors student launches undergrad professional journal

March 12, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Jill Winkler was disappointed as a freshman to learn that Western Michigan University didn't have a journal where undergraduate students could publish their work. After several years of lamentation, one strategic conversation with the right person and a few months of hard work, the Lee Honors College student has now done something about it.

The Laureate, a professional journal featuring work from about 20 WMU students, debuts at a release party at 8 p.m. Friday, March 22, in the lounge of the Lee Honors College. Authors, editors, and campus and community supporters will gather to celebrate the journal's 54-page inaugural issue, which was crafted by Winkler and the five other student members of her editorial board. Copies of the journal are free and are available at the Lee Honors College, in the English lounge in Room 3009 of Brown Hall, or in Flossie's Café in Sangren Hall.

"I'd been thinking about this project for awhile, but things really started to jell last spring," says Winkler, a senior from Berkley, Mich., who is majoring in English and environmental studies. She talked with Dr. Joseph G. Reish, dean of the honors college, about the project, "and he liked the idea and said he'd provide some funding," she recalls. "We started by researching publications from other universities as well as WMU's Third Coast, a literary magazine published by the English department. The honors college staff allowed the student board to devise and create the journal autonomously, but they were there with encouragement and support whenever we needed it."

The Laureate is open to all WMU undergraduate students. The first issue includes some 25 poems, four short stories and several pieces of creative nonfiction, chosen by the editorial board from among 54 submissions. The journal's cover features art by Lee Honors College senior Lucas Blanco, an art and German major from Shelbyville, Mich.

Pieces were judged for style, form, quality of writing, meaning and length, and submissions from members of the editorial board were reviewed by an objective outsider. In addition to support from the honors college, the students received advice and assistance from a variety of faculty and staff members, including a staff advisor, Margaret vonSteinen, who is a WMU honors college alumna and a graduate research assistant in the Africana Studies Program.

Winkler says the journal's first issue is a great start, but like any true innovator, she's not 100 percent satisfied. For example, she hopes future organizers will expand The Laureate to include other types of writing, such as research, straight nonfiction and song lyrics, along with student art. Whether it will publish once a year or more often is still up in the air.

"My vision for The Laureate is that it will become a well-known, highly regarded professional journal," she reflects. "Not something elitist, but something prestigious that you really have to work hard to get into--that students are clamoring to get into."

Winkler is the daughter of Paul and Carol Winkler from Berkley, Mich. Blanco is the son of Jose and Christine Blanco of Shelbyville, Mich.

Media contact: Jessica English, 269 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

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