Palahniuk scholarship goes to 2 Edinboro seniors

Category:  News
Wednesday, February 17th, 2021 at 2:34 PM
Palahniuk scholarship goes to 2 Edinboro seniors by Julia Carden

Edinboro University’s Department of English and Philosophy celebrated this year’s Chuck Palahniuk Writing Scholarship recipients with a virtual reading on Feb. 11. Students Samuel Bohen and Colin Searfoss-Smith presented selections from their award-winning work via Zoom.

Dr. Robert Hass and Dr. Carrie Hohmann Campbell hosted the online event and introduced the recipients as committed and appreciated members of the English program. Bohen and Searfoss-Smith are both seniors. Searfoss-Smith is a dual major, also studying cinema.

According to Dr. Mary Paniccia Carden, department chair, students must be “rising seniors” to qualify for the scholarship. The annual award, though, did look a little different this year. Beyond Zoom being involved, 2021 marked the first time the award has been split between two recipients because the judges could not decide on a finalist.

Bohen’s piece, “Elegy at 100 and 37th" details the relationship he holds with his hometown Erie, which he describes as, “a city that was both my own and not mine at all.” The essay examines feelings of uncertainty, finding your identity as a young adult, and the aspirational idea of escaping your hometown.

Bohen originally wrote this piece in an “Advanced Composition” class in 2019. He also presented a more recently written epilogue in which he analyzes his work and recognizes the shift in feelings he has undergone since writing the original essay.

Searfoss-Smith presented his fantasy story, titled “Hollowed Spirits.” His piece is an action-packed tale of a brave heroine who fights to defend herself and her young daughter from monsters within a frightening dystopia. Supernatural creatures hold the upper hand for some time, but in a series of dramatic reversals, the protagonist prevails.

This year’s recipients shared two works from two different ends of the spectrum, representing the possibility rooted in writing. The department will send out a call for submissions for next year’s Chuck Palahniuk Scholarship toward the end of the spring semester.

The award takes its name from the famed author of “Fight Club,” “Choke” and more.

Julia Carden is the Social Media Director for The Spectator. She can be reached at

Disclaimer: Sam Bohen has been a staff writer for The Spectator. 

Disclaimer: Writer Julia Carden is related to Dr. Mary Carden.

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