Carey's leadership recognized

February 10, 2005, vol. 32, no. 3
By Stuart Colcleugh

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Jessica Carey is lost in the 20th century - the 1950s and 1960s to be precise.

"I've always been fascinated by mid-20th century culture," says this year's winner of the annual Robert C. Brown award for outstanding academic achievement combined with outstanding leadership.

"Even as a young child I was really interested in counterculture, like the 60s, and then I became interested in the 50s and how that culture worked and how different communities within the culture functioned."

Carey's passion for the period is clearly evident in her English honours essay. Her English professor Stephen Collis hails it as a "superb and wide-ranging analysis of the issues of mid-century poetic communities and canonization in mid-20th century American poetry."

He adds it is "impressive for its intellectual accomplishments and written in such a fluid and engaging style that I have no doubt Jessica has a bright future ahead of her as a scholar and writer."

Although not a poet herself Carey comes honestly by her fascination for things poetic. "My parents are in the theatre community," says the North Vancouverite and Sutherland secondary school grad.

"So I've always been interested in the way artistic communities worked within the greater society."

So much so that when she perceived a dearth of poetic community at SFU she did her best to ameliorate the situation. First, she helped revive a moribund undergraduate poetry journal, the Stuffed Dog, and then last summer she helped organize the West Coast poetry festival on campus.

The festival attracted hundreds of people who came to hear a long list of poets and performers including Evelyn Lau and Marilyn Bowering, and SFU professors Roy Miki, Daphne Marlatt and Colin Brown.

Carey, who graduated with a 3.9 CGPA and a perfect 4.0 in her upper level English courses, was also the student speaker at her convocation ceremonies, where she expounded on the "the uniqueness of a SFU experience" and value of choosing your own path.

"It is very important for students to figure out for themselves what they want to do," she says. "You have to be very self-directed or self motivated."

And Carey clearly knows what she wants to do. "I'd like to be an English professor and I'd like to write books," she says.

"I'm working this year, but I'm applying right now to graduate schools. I've even sent some quite ambitious applications to Berkeley and Cornell. So we'll see what happens."

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