Makena Metz

Makena Metz (Dual MA English / MFA Creative Writing ‘23) has been awarded the highest honor for graduate students at Chapman University, The James L. Doti Outstanding Graduate Student Award.

The award is conferred annually to the outstanding graduating master’s and doctoral students with distinguished records of academic accomplishment, scholarship, and/or service. The names of the award recipients are permanently inscribed on the campus’ Doti Award trophy, which incorporates artist Nick Hernandez’s sculpture Emergence, and is on display outside Argyros Forum (pictured above). Each recipient receives a desk-size copy of the trophy, an award of $1,000, and is recognized at their school’s commencement ceremony.

Metz completed her MFA thesis–an adult epic fantasy–last winter. In Metz’s fantastical story, “the land is either poisoned or poisonous, the Gods don’t listen, and the Silvan High Fae have vanished into the mists of time.” In the Silgan Empire in the city of Fall’s End, humans run the Kingdom while Low Fae struggle to make ends meet in a prejudiced caste system. Her main character Madrigal must reckon with forces beyond her wildest imagination – to save her found family, kill the king, and to discover the source of the new magic, and stop it before it’s too late.

Metz’s MA thesis builds on existing scholarship on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid” by using feminist, queer, and disability lenses to examine at how the story’s original elements have evolved into a contemporary “mermaid” canon.

Dr. Anna Leahy, director of the MFA in Creative Writing program, wrote, “the breadth of Makena Metz’s work is exceptional, and the extent of her accomplishments over the last two years is remarkable, both within the MA/MFA program and beyond campus in the larger field.”

Also nominated by Wilkinson College this year was Joshua Jackson (MA International Studies ‘23).

Joshua Jackson

Jackson is completing his thesis this semester on the structural impact of migration security on minority citizens. “This subject combines various aspects of my personal identity with my academic background in a way that is relevant to increasing global diversity,” Jackson writes, “It is a product of my lived experiences, from Germany, the Marine Corps, to being a MAIS student at Chapman University, and builds upon my interdisciplinary education which has shown me how pervasive these tensions are.”

Dr. Daniel Wherenfennig, director of the Center for International Experiential Learning, wrote “Joshua has been one of the most mature, thoughtful, and inspirational graduate students I have worked with in over a decade. During our travel and work together, I have seen him interact with political leaders, clergy, activists and victims with professionalism and curiosity. He is a natural leader who leads by example and inspires and motivates the people around him. His support with the undergraduate students on our study tour contributed significantly to the learning success and quality of the travel and the work on campus afterwards.”

Metz and Jackson join the ranks of fewer than two dozen exemplar graduate students that have been nominated by the college since the awards inception just over a decade ago. Metz’s achievement continues a proud tradition of Wilkinson College’s most recent award winners, including Thomas Cottam in 2014Liz Harmer in 2019, and Tryphena Yeboah in 2021.

Congratulations again to Makena Metz and Joshua Jackson! We know they will continue to do remarkable things.