When Maria Isabel Medina de Sklavenitis saw a national call for submissions for Phi Theta Kappa’s prestigious literary journal Nota Bene publication, she submitted some of her academic essays, a few research papers and other scholarly writings that she thought honor Phi Theta Kappa might be interested in.
Then she thought, she’d submit one more publication but she doubted it would win. It was a poem she wrote 30 years ago in Spanish, her first language, about falling in love with her boyfriend, who is now her husband.
That poem “Olvido” will now appear in both Spanish and English in Phi Theta Kappa’s national literary journal Nota Bene this winter. Medina de Sklavenitis will also receive a $500 scholarship. She is one of only five students in the country who will both win a scholarship and have her work published.
In her early 20s, she had fallen in love with a Greek man she met in Mexico, and the poem chronicles the struggle of his acceptance to her Mexican family, the meshing of their customs and cultures, and the beginning of their lives together.
“I knew it was a good poem, but I wasn’t so sure how it would do in a competition,” she said. “A poem I wrote in Spanish competed against students from colleges all over the United States, and it won. I just feel so proud.”
Medina de Sklavenitis is currently one year away from receiving her associate degree in bilingual paralegal studies as well as finishing certificates as a translator and in Spanish proficiency.
“I am also so proud to be here at Southwestern College,” she said. “I’ve learned so much and I would like to just keep growing and keep learning. Southwestern College gives you opportunities and lets you discover things within yourself that you didn’t know were there.”