SOAR Creatives

December 10, 2020

Kudos to SOAR creatives!

Kudos to SOAR creatives! What’s a creative? Loosely defined, a creative combines artistry and creativity in communicating messages or meaning, often through written or spoken word and the visual or tactile arts. This semester, SOAR creatives had their work published in Lyceum, UM-Dearborn's fine arts and literary journal or were winners in the UM-Dearborn Writing Awards Competition.

Writing Awards


Michelle Giannoulakis First Place Bill Linn Fiction Prize, New Beginning

Michelle draws upon her 20 years of massage therapy, knowledge of the human body, and information learned in her psychology classes to write science fiction. “I love the genre,” said Michelle, “You can break all the rules. Anything can spark a story – a noise in the bathroom, anything! I could write forever and usually do up to the moment something is due. I struggle to find ways to end my stories because I want them to keep going.”

Penny Kane, CASL, Integrative Studies, 2nd place Creative Non-Fiction, The Things I Carry

SOAR Ambassador awardee and CASL Alumni Affiliate Scholarship recipient, Penny Kane, writes social observations about prison and reflective pieces on her life. “Stories are in my head and I have a folksy manner in expressing them. While Grammarly is my friend, I don’t always heed its advice!” In classes with Professor Jill Darling, Penny has expanded her storytelling ventures into a thematic exploration of prison life and plans to write a book about those experiences post-graduation. Kane also placed in two Writing Award categories in 2019 and has her work published in Lyceum. A regular visitor to the Writing Center, Penny says she has grown as a writer because the center’s consultants, “help you understand what you are trying to portray by asking questions and going over each line and paragraph with you. They don’t tell you what to do and that’s where the learning happens.”


Elissa Gonzalez, CASL, BA, ’19, Communication, Honorable Mention, Creative non-fictionSucking at Life

Recent CASL grad Elissa Gonzalez was inspired to write Sucking at life after reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown. Sucking at Life is about embracing the challenges in life - the things that suck or we struggle with, and overcoming obstacles with humor if not grace. “For me life has been confusing, messy, and an adventure,” said Elissa, “Sucking at Life was a therapeutic way to reflect and sift through my wounds, my choices and my struggles to love and accept myself despite flaws and mistakes.”


Dawn Isby, CASL, Integrative Studies

CASL Integrative Studies major, Dawn Isby is both a writer and visual artist. Two of her pieces (below) completed in Professor Kevin Castile’s painting class, were accepted for publication in the fall 2020 edition of Lyceum.



“In Progressive Tonality, I created a 4-panel painting utilizing color ratio. I love using bold and strong color in my artwork and they usually dominate. I like my colors to flourish and entertain the eyes.”



The Eyes Have It was a fun piece where I wanted the viewer to be guided by the eyes of the subjects in the painting. I used striking color to adjust the dynamics of the composition and was influenced by cubism which is why you see geometric shapes and forms in the depictions of the subjects.”

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