April 29, 2022

Congratulations to Dr. Jennifer Sinor, Inaugural Recipient of the English Faculty Mentoring Award! 

Professor Jennifer Sinor has been chosen as the inaugural recipient of the English Faculty Mentoring Award. Established by a generous donor, this annual award of $5,000 recognizes English Department faculty who have gone above and beyond in mentoring students. 

Dr. Sinor is a creative writer and student-centered teacher who gives freely of her time to support students both inside and outside the classroom. In her twenty-two years at Utah State University, she has helped hundreds of graduate and undergraduate students navigate independent projects, MA and Honors theses, and applications for jobs, grants, and graduate school. Sinor is committed to mentoring students “not only in the writing life and the professional life but also in life itself: how to ask a good question, create a pathway for answering it, and then commit to the daily work to get it done.”   

Through mentoring, Sinor imparts to her students the fruits of her own rich and successful career as a writer and academic. She is the author of four books: The Extraordinary Work of Ordinary Writing, which focuses on the diary of her great, great, great aunt Annie Ray, a woman who homesteaded in the Dakotas in the late nineteenth century; Ordinary Trauma, a memoir; Letters Like the Day, a meditation on the letters of the artist Georgia O’Keefe; and Sky Songs: Meditations on Loving a Broken World, a collection of essays. Her work has appeared in numerous venues, including The American Scholar, Creative Nonfiction, The Writer’s Chronicle, The Norton Reader, Utne,and The Normal School. She is also the co-editor of an essay collection, Placing the Academy: Essays on Landscape and Academic Identity. 

Sinor has always seen mentoring as a fundamental aspect of her teaching and professional life. She has meditated on mentoring in academic conference presentations and published an essay on mentoring co-authored with a student, “Finding the Words: An Epistolary Essay on Mentoring in the Creative Arts,” which appeared in a special issue of Perspectives on Undergraduate Research & Mentoring. Her approach to mentoring stems from the belief that education must engage the entire student, not just their minds. Sinor is committed to being present to her students for whatever challenges they face. “Sometimes,” she notes, “to sit and do nothing but listen is the most powerful act of mentoring that we can do.”

In 2020, sixteen of Sinor’s former students compiled a collection of letters, songs, and poems that pay tribute to her mentorship, The Prayer, the Practice, the Jetway. This compilation speaks to the tremendous impact Sinor’s mentorship has had on the lives of her students. Her colleagues have for many years witnessed long lines of students waiting outside her office door, and the many hours she spends with them in patient, supportive, one-on-one conversations. The department is grateful to the donors who have made it possible to recognize Sinor for her career-long commitment to mentoring—a crucial, though often invisible, dimension of the support that English faculty provide to students.

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