(Posted November 3, 2003)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- ?Phenomenal Woman? by Maya Angelou is just one of the many presentations that will be read aloud by Juniata College students at the 11th annual ?Unlock Your Voice: A Celebration of Women Writers? at 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 6. in the Ballroom of Ellis College Center on the Juniata campus.

The reading event is free and open to the public. Some material may not be suitable for children. Free refreshments will be available.

According to Judy Katz, associate professor of English at Juniata, ?Unlock Your Voice? began in 1994, when her Women and Literature class developed the program to celebrate Women's History Month, to give students a chance to share the works they loved, as well as show how much great literature women have written.

?This program gives students an opportunity to use their own creativity and resourcefulness,? katz says. ?An added benefit, is that the program helps to get the performers over their anxiety about speaking. Students get to see that their words and their voices have power. It gives them a sense of confidence. They may think that they can?t do it; but they can. Readers experience a feeling of empowerment.?

Katz recalls one student who had never talked in the literature class, but volunteered to read in the program, and fell in love with performing. She went on to earn a degree in English and Theatre, as well as a master's degree in theatre. ?Unlock Your Voice helped to liberate her,? said Katz.

?It's always a pleasure hearing literature read aloud,? she adds. ?If I am familiar with the piece, I hear it in a new way. And it?s such a pleasure to hear works I?m not familiar with. I also get to know my students in new ways?as performers, as producers, as directors, and as activists.?

One student, Johanna Holtan, a senior from Fargo, N.D. studying communications and a member of the Juniata women?s volleyball team, is excited about the new experience ?Unlock Your Voice? will provide.

Her selection, ?Phenomenal Woman" by Maya Angelou has special significance because she discovered the piece in high school. ?Maya Angelou is one of my favorite writers,? Holtan explains. ?I knew when this chance came around that I would read this piece. The reading makes me feel proud to be a woman, and I hope it gives the audience that same impact.?

Steven Knepper, a sophomore from Blairs Mills studyintg secondary English education, will be reading ?The Prologue? by Anne Bradstreet. He loves Bradstreet?s poetry ?because it is heartfelt and sincere. She was a very progressive thinker in the area of women?s rights, especially considering the fact that she was Puritan.?

Denique Conner, a junior from Rochester, N.Y., will be reading poetry by Lucille Clifton, including ?Homage to My Hips.? She chose these poems, she explains, ?because they encourage women to respect and love themselves for the beautiful women they are. Women?s beauty does not depend on their dress size.?

Other readers include Janine Dudash, a junior from Huntingdon, Pa.; Nicole Fernandez,a junior from Stroudsburg, Pa.; Alcione Frederick, a freshman from Huntingdon, Pa.; B.J. Greenberger, a junior from Santa Monica, Calif.; Jennifer John, a junior from East Swanzey, N.H.; Meredith Killian, a junior from Camp Hill, Pa.; Katie Laucks, a sophomore from York, Pa.; Christy Stubler, a junior from James Creek, Pa.; and Dawn Vitko, a senior from Johnstown, Pa.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.