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U. of I. student from Chicago wins Beinecke Scholarship for graduate study

4/27/2012 | Cailun Gangi, News Bureau intern | 217-333-1085;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Joanna Chromik, a junior at the University of Illinois, has been awarded a Beinecke Scholarship, which awards $34,000 for future graduate study in the arts, humanities, or social sciences.

Chromik, of Chicago, is a James Scholar honors student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences pursuing a double major in communication and English. Chromik said she initially was interested in Illinois because of its Division of General Studies program, which encourages course exploration.

Although she explored psychology, architecture, and molecular and cellular biology in a variety of courses, Chromik continually was drawn to the study of rhetoric and English literature. Chromik, who is developing a senior thesis on Irish writer Elizabeth Bowen, seeks to become a leading scholar in expanding the canon of transatlantic modernist literature.

Chromik moved from Poland to Chicago at age 8; she is the first from her family to attend college. She works more than 20 hours per week each semester to help support her education.

For the past year Chromik has been a production and publishing intern at Dalkey Archive Press, which specializes in the publication of lesser-known works deemed culturally or educationally valuable. The internship motivated Chromik to further advance the importance of these lesser-known works. Chromik also worked as a student worker at the U. of I. Library assisting in reorganizing the stacks from the Dewey to Library of Congress call number systems to make it easier for patrons to encounter related work they may have otherwise overlooked.

The Beinecke Scholarship criteria include a student’s demonstrated superior standards of intellectual ability, scholastic achievement, and personal promise as well as the candidate’s history of receiving need-based financial aid. The University of Illinois is one of about 100 colleges and universities annually invited to nominate one junior for the honor. From among the 20 recipients in 2012, Chromik is one of three from a public institution.

“Joanna is convinced that she wants to utilize her creative talents as a scholar of words and works,” said Laura Hastings and David Schug, co-directors of the national and international scholarships program at Illinois. “We anticipate Joanna using her ingenuity to combine her studies in rhetoric and literature to propel new boundaries in her field.”

After earning a doctorate in English Literature, Chromik hopes to become a professor advancing the study of American and European modernism and critical theory, specifically psychoanalysis and feminism, and popularizing lesser known works, especially from early 20th-century female writers.

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