Lisa Beth Jones wins 2011 Sophie Kerr
NEW YORK— Lisa Beth Jones, an Anthropology major who wrote about a life-changing trip to Tanzania and the simple pleasures of life in a one-intersection town in the Maryland countryside has won the largest student literary prize in the nation, the Sophie Kerr Prize.
For 43 years, the Sophie Kerr Prize has gone to the graduating senior at Washington College who demonstrates the greatest literary ability and promise. Jones earned it with a portfolio of nonfiction work that includes travel writing, recollections of family life on a farm, and excerpts from her senior thesis on African immigrants in America. In writing about the month she spent on a College-sponsored trip to Tanzania the spring of her Junior year, she delivered sensory postcards of the land and the people based on entries from her weathered travel journal.
The committee of 13 English professors who selected Jones from among 30 portfolios, were impressed with the way she shaped a sense of place with her language and with the maturity she brought to her observations and her craft. “She takes a place that means a lot to her, whether her home town or a country in Africa, and, through a constellation of anecdotes and the powers of description, makes that place come alive for others,” says Kathryn Moncrief, the chair of the Sophie Kerr Committee. “Her writing was intimate, honest and vivid.”
While at Washington College, Jones earned a place on the Dean’s List every semester and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. She also made time to work in the College’s Geographic Information Systems Lab and to help other students in the campus writing center. She finished her required coursework in December and has since worked as the Grants & Contracts Coordinator at the International Youth Foundation in Baltimore and as a travel writer for Examiner.com.