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Ava Green ’25, Journalism, Wins National Writing Award

Ava Green was awarded a St. Juan Diego second place award in the category of In-Depth Profile Feature by the Catholic Media Association for her article entitled “The Men Behind The Mailroom.”

Green’s piece was originally researched, drafted and revised in ENG 391, an advanced creative writing workshop devoted to memoir and nonfiction, and then revised again and published in The Griffin. It profiles Canisius University mailroom clerks Don Sulkowski and George Ambrusko, highlighting their quiet competence and kindness.

Green will graduate next May with a journalism major and an English minor. She’s served as editor-in-chief of The Griffin, a peer mentor in the Canisius FYE program, and a social media content creator for the Office of  Admissions. She is a member of Lamda Pi Eta, the National Communication Association’s official college honor society, and Associated Collegiate Press, a national community of college and university journalists.

Submitted by: Mick Cochrane, Professor, English

Justin Smith ’17, PhD, Publishes Scholarship

Justin Smith ’17, PhD, assistant professor of English and Black Studies at Randolph-Macon College, is the author of “Subjective Limits of Imagination: Race, Gender, and Sex in the Archives,” an essay included in the expanded and revised 10-year anniversary edition of Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives (Routledge 2024).

In May, he presented a paper entitled “Monsters and Gods: Naturalist Racial Constructions from Stephen Crane to Richard Wright,” as part of a panel sponsored by the African American Literature and Culture Society at the annual meeting of the American Literature Association in Chicago.

At Canisius, Smith majored in English and creative writing, contributed articles to The Griffin, served as an editor for Quadrangle, and wrote a creative all-college honors thesis. Mentored by Dr. Jennifer Desiderio, he presented an Ignatian Scholarship paper analyzing Clotel, William Wells Brown’s 1853 novel about enslaved daughters of Thomas Jefferson. After graduating summa cum laude, Smith earned first an MA then a PhD at Penn State.

At Randolph-Macon, he’s taught Introduction to African American Literature, Hip Hop and American Literature and African American Modernism.

You can read his full academic profile here:

Submitted by: Mick Cochrane, Professor, English

English Department Honors Tom O’Malley with Adjunct Teaching Award

The Canisius English Department has established the Tom O’Malley Award, which will be presented annually to the department’s adjunct professor who best embodies the virtues O’Malley displayed during his decades-long service: a deep and passionate commitment to students, to literature, and to the art of writing.

O’Malley retired in May after 40 years of teaching at Canisius, his alma mater. He taught courses in first-year writing and introduction to literature as well as courses in the education department for aspiring teachers. He was a crucial leader of the Western New York Writing Project, helping to inspire and support writing teachers across our region.

He was awarded two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and published his own writing in The English Journal, The Thoreau Society Bulletin, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Buffalo News.

In 2016, he was awarded the Canisius arts and science adjunct teaching award. The citation read in part:

“O’Malley’s teaching is informed by a philosophy that is consistent with the deepest, humanistic tradition: As he puts it in one of his opinion pieces: ‘Literature matters, now more than ever.’ To understand war, O’Malley suggests we read Homer; to understand our duties as citizens, he suggests we revisit Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience.” O’Malley’s goal as a teacher is always to bring students into the rich and unending conversation these texts open up: ‘The careful reader contributes to that wisdom by participating in the unending dialogue of ideas.’”

If you would like to express your gratitude to Tom O’Malley for his 40 years of distinguished service and to congratulate him on this most recent honor, you can email him here:


Submitted by: Mick Cochrane, Professor, English

Contemporary Writers Series Announces Fall Season

Two award-winning writers will be visiting Canisius this October under the auspices on the Contemporary Writers Series.

On Tuesday, October 8, at 7:00 p.m., in the Montante Cultural Center, Clair Wills will give the 20th Annual Hassett Reading. She is the King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at the University of Cambridge. Her books include Lovers and Strangers: An Immigrant History of Post-War Britain, winner of the Irish Times International Non-Fiction Book of the Year, and That Neutral Island: A Cultural History of Ireland During the Second World War, winner of the PEN Hessell-Tiltman History Prize. Wills’ most recent book is Missing Persons, or, My Grandmother’s Secrets. She is a frequent contributor to the London Review of Books, The New York Review of Books, and other publications.

On Tuesday, October 29, at 7:00 p.m., in the Grupp Fireside Lounge, Kao Kalia Yang will read and discuss her work. She was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and came to America at the age of six. She earned a BA from Carleton College and an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Columbia. Yang is the author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, a finalist for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award and the Asian American Literary Award and winner of a Minnesota Book Award; The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, and a Dayton Literary Peace Prize; and most recently, Where Rivers Part: A Story of My Mother’s Life. She has been awarded fellowships by the McKnight, Paul and Daisy Soros, and Guggenheim Foundations.

You can learn more about both authors and events and find instructions how to livestream on the writers series homepage:

Submitted by: Mick Cochrane, Professor, English

Hanna Etu ’15 Becomes Certified Book Coach

Hanna Etu ’15 has earned certification as a book coach in memoir and nonfiction by the Author Accelerator program.

At Canisius, Etu majored in English, German, and creative writing. She took a workshop in creative nonfiction and wrote a creative all-college honors thesis, a collection of first-person essays. She published work in Quadrangle and served as an editor-in-chief of Quadrangle 63. For several years after graduation, she worked as an editorial associate at Prometheus Books.

Book coaches act as expert mentors and editors to authors at every stage of the writing process, from planning a project through revision and submission of a completed manuscript.

Etu is convinced that the telling and sharing stories can lead to both personal growth and societal change. “I passionately believe that through our shared written experiences, about mental health, grief, or other trauma,” she says, “we can form cross-cultural bonds and create institutional and social change.”

You can learn more about Hanna Etu and her book coaching services here:

Submitted by: Mick Cochrane, Professor, English