Victor Hassine Memorial Scholarship
Victor Hassine Memorial Scholarship
The Victor Hassine Memorial Scholarship is given annually to one or more American University students or alumni who use creative work – literary and visual art, or some combination thereof – to educate the public on the pressing issues affecting the criminal justice system and the greater society. This award honors the memory of Victor Hassine, who tragically took his life after 27 long years of confinement in Pennsylvania prisons. During those years, Victor used his creative talent to produce a host of writings on crime and punishment, both fiction and non-fiction. Victor believed that much of the injustice in the world, especially as seen in our prisons, stemmed from ignorance. He wrote to dispel that ignorance, to educate and inform, and to move others to action.Victor Hassine’s legacy lives on in his writings, most particularly his classic work of social science, Life Without Parole: Living and Dying in Prison Today, published by Oxford University Press. We hope this award will encourage a new generation of young men and women to use their talents in service of a more just and humane future. Each award is accompanied by a $500 stipend provided by the Hassine family.
Emily Dalgo is a senior honors student at American University pursuing a degree in international studies with a focus in justice, ethics, and human rights. Dalgo is the Chief Development Officer of BleakHouse Publishing, and was an Associate Editor for the 2015 BleakHouse Review, an online fine arts magazine published by BleakHouse Publishing. Her first collection of poetry, Silent, We Sit, will be published by the BleakHouse Publishing in Fall 2016. Named after Emily Dickinson, Dalgo was exposed to and fascinated with poetry at a very early age. She believes that writing poetry is a solitary action that has a communal outcome. The emotion in poetry is universal; sharing one’s pain or happiness through a poem can move even the most distant stranger, and connects the reader to the writer instantly. Poetry has a healing property for the poet and the audience, because it builds community and thereby proves false the popular notion that we are alone. Dalgo is committed to writing about social justice issues because people are often desensitized to the suffering going on around them. Poetry causes us to slow down, digest what is being said, and connect to other fellow human beings in a caring way. In the future, Dalgo hopes to continue writing and educating about the injustices of prisons, and hopes to continue reminding those who read her work that our mortality and humanity are all that any of us have that is truly real. This award is accompanied by a $500 stipend courtesy of the Hassine family.
Daniella Sklarz is a senior in the honors college at American University pursuing a B.A. in Film & Media Arts and a minor in Justice. She is a Consulting Editor for BleakHouse Publishing and Associate Editor for the 2016 edition of BleakHouse Review. Sklarz stands by the belief that art should be created with a purposeful intention to better the world and wants to combine her passion for film and justice to do just that: expose injustice, inspire reform. She has produced work published in the 2015 edition of Tacenda Literary Magazine, a print and online magazine published by BleakHouse Publishing. In the spring of 2015, she was chosen to write a script for the American University Players’ New Works Festival. Sklarz addresses social justice issues in her scripts to help present ideas to the public in an innovative and entertaining way that holds the promise of promoting reform. She was awarded the Lillian Butler Davey Award 2nd Place Drama (2013) and 3rd place Drama (2012). In April of 2015, she coordinated an open mic (microphone) night that allowed her fellow students to share poetry, prose, and song in observance of Holocaust Remembrance week on AU’s campus. Sklarz hopes to continue motivating social justice action and awareness via artistic mediums. This award is accompanied by a $500 stipend courtesy of the Hassine family.
ALEXA MARIE KELLY
Kelly is an American University graduate of public relations. Alexa has produced a body of creative writing that brings social justice issues to life in vivid and moving ways, culminating in her poetry collection, entitled Black Bone: Poems on Crime and Punishment, Race and Justice, published this spring by BleakHouse Publishing. Kelly also has taken the lead in moving the press out into the larger world beyond American University. We are deeply grateful to Alexa for her vision and leadership in guiding the press as our Chief Literary Officer and as the Editor-in-Chief of Tacenda Literary Magazine, our flagship print journal. By her writing, editing, and outreach, Alexa Marie Kelly exemplifies the ideals embodied in the Victor Hassine Memorial Scholarship. This award is accompanied by a $500 stipend courtesy of the Hassine family.
Laing is graduate of the School of Public Affairs at American University and majored in Communications, Law, Economics, and Government. She has a passion for creative writing and public policy and has had several of her poems published. She also is one of the founding writers for The Bare Light Bulb, a blog run by BleakHouse Publishing that focuses on social justice issues. Laing was a key organizer of “The Darkening,” a demonstration undertaken on the AU campus to protest police violence, a problem that disproportionately affects minorities, a group that includes Tatiana. By her creative voice, expressed in a body of poems and blog posts on social justice, and her informed activism for constructive change, Tatiana Laing exemplifies the ideals embodied in the Victor Hassine Memorial Scholarship. This award is accompanied by a $500 stipend courtesy of the Hassine family.
Joanna Heaney is an undergraduate in the honors program at American University majoring in Public Communication with a minor in Law and Society. Heaney has a deep and abiding interest in the notions of liberty, justice, and individual choice; these subjects inform her studies, her creative writing, and her commitment to BleakHouse Publishing, which has as part of its core mission offering a voice to those rendered voiceless in our society, notably by the justice system. Heaney is the author of several poems, including the award-winning poem on the death penalty, “Too Little, Too Late,” published in BleakHouse Review. Heaney is also the founding editor and chief voice of the BleakHouse Blog, The Bare Lightbulb, which now has over 1900 followers and a growing cadre of regular contributors, all American University students. This award is accompanied by a $500 stipend courtesy of the Hassine family.
Nora Kirk is an American University undergraduate driven by a passion for criminal justice reform. As Chief Development Officer at BleakHouse Publishing, Kirk works to expand the voice of prisoners and to bring their creative writing and art to the attention of a broad public audience. To achieve this goal—at the heart of the BleakHouse mission and in the spirit of Hassine Award—Kirk coordinates all media and promotional activities for BleakHouse Publishing, and works to develop strategic partnerships and joint ventures with DC social justice organizations. Notable among Kirk’s achievements in this respect is a partnering with Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop to release Up the River, a BleakHouse book released to rave reviews. Kirk has also developed a partnership with the Safe Streets Arts Foundation, an organization that reaches thousands of prisoners across the country. This partnership has allowed BleakHouse to increase the number of prisoners’ works the press is able to publish, which in turn increases the reach of the press into the prison system and the lives of prisoners. This award is accompanied by a $500 stipend courtesy of the Hassine family.
Charles Huckelbury served thirty-eight consecutive years in maximum-security prisons before being paroled. A graduate of Ohio University and New England College, he is a widely-published and award-winning author of two books of poetry as well as a host of essays and poems. He is a member of the Distinguished Writers and Authors Guild. This award is accompanied by a $500 stipend courtesy of the Hassine family.
Rachel Ternes is a sophomore at American University majoring in psychology and minoring in French and studio arts. She is an artist and consulting editor for BleakHouse Publishing. Her award-winning drawings and paintings have been featured in BleakHouse Review, Tacenda Literary Magazine, and American University’s literary magazine, AmLit., among other venues. This award is accompanied by a $500 stipend courtesy of the Hassine family.
Claire Callahan is a gifted and versatile undergraduate student majoring in Justice, Law and Society at American University. Her record of achievement combines near perfect grades, fluency in French, a thorough grounding in the humanities as well as law and justice, research interests that span national and international issues, excellence in dance, and a talent for writing that is at once precise and elegant. This award is accompanied by a $500 stipend courtesy of the Hassine family.
Carla Mavaddat is the Art Curator for BleakHouse Publishing and an undergraduate student majoring in Political Science at McGill University. Her creative work has appeared in several venues, including Adore Noir, a fine arts magazine. Mavaddat edits and designs BleakHouse Review, which showcases her distinctive noire aesthetic. This award is accompanied by a $500 stipend courtesy of the Hassine family.
Sonia Tabriz: Sonia Tabriz is a merit scholar and J.D. candidate at The George Washington University Law School. The Managing Editor of BleakHouse Publishing. Tabriz is best known for her award-winning works of fiction, including poetry and short stories, as well as her legal commentaries and edited collections on crime and punishment. This award is accompanied by a $500 stipend courtesy of the Hassine family.