Belhaven Names 2023 Elizabeth Spencer Award Recipients

May 12, 2023 (Jackson, Miss.) - Faculty from Belhaven University’s English and Creative Writing Departments honored four students excelling in the written arts. 

The winners of the Elizabeth Spencer Award 2023 are junior Ella Simmons, senior Maurissa Winford, junior Tara Teter, and junior Madilyn Hiley.

Winford was honored for her work in poetry, Simmons was recognized for her efforts in fiction, and Teter won the award for her creative nonfiction. The fiction, nonfiction, and poetry awards were determined by faculty in Belhaven’s Creative Writing Department and were awarded in April.

“All three winners for creative writing demonstrated artful command of craft in their respective genres,” said Chair and Professor of Creative Writing Dr. Randy Smith. “Like the award’s namesake, each wrote perceptively about how personal, family, and societal tensions intersect and influence one another.”

Hiley was honored for her research essay, "Elizabeth Spencer and Her Female Characters: Both Knowing and Changing Home.” The scholarly essay award was decided by faculty in Belhaven’s English Department. The award is based on completion of an exemplary research essay, regarding some aspect of Spencer's work.

“It is fitting, and perhaps, inexorable, that Madilyn Healy would garner the Elizabeth Spencer Award for her literary essay,” said Chair and Professor of English Dr. Donald Hubele. “After all, as a double major in dance and English, she was awarded outstanding service in both fields. She could have majored in anything and risen to the top. Her goal is to use her considerable, and alas, rare gifts to help others, and to honor Christ. She is an embodiment of the Belhaven motto ‘To serve, not to be served.’ She has been an indelible mark of God’s grace on our campus.”

The winning selections and essay will be published in Belhaven University's digital fine arts journal, The Brogue.

The Elizabeth Spencer Writing Awards were created to encourage students in creative writing and scholarly engagement with the literary works of Spencer. The four award categories will include fiction, nonfiction​, poetry​​​, and scholarly essay​. The annual scholarships are funded by Virginia Wicke Morris ’67, a Hattiesburg, Miss. native and Belhaven Board of Trustee member.