Bluefield College Professors Participate in Appalachian Studies July 28, 2008 | RSS Article written by BC student Rachel Reed Bluefield College professors Rob Merritt and Phyllis Owens recently represented Bluefield College as presenters for the Appalachian Studies Conference at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Dr. Merritt, a BC professor of English, presented his original poetry in two separate sessions, entitled "Verse and Validation for Appalachian Studies: Critical Poems and Songs" and "Readings from Coal: A Poetry Anthology." "It's inspiring to see colleagues distinguishing themselves in a national professional setting," said Dr. Merritt about the presenters for the Appalachian Studies Conference. Labeled "The Road Ahead: The Next 30 Years of Appalachian Studies," the Appalachian Studies Conference was designed to demonstrate how people -- citizens, professionals, students, scholars, educators, artists and activists -- are responding to the "next generation of challenge and change in Appalachia." Owens, an instructor of teacher education, presented "The Glass Castle: How Teachers Help Aspiring Appalachian Students to Succeed in School." During her presentation, she spoke of her experiences with a former high school student, turned author, Jeanette Walls, who attributes much of her success to Owens. "I served as a panelist who gave a teacher's view of an Appalachian student who lived in poverty, but through her resilience was able to attain international attention via her memoir," said Owens about her presentation. "It was indeed an honor to be able to share about teaching and showcase one of my former students' success." Owens added that being a part of the Appalachian Studies Conference affirmed her appreciation for Appalachia and the talent of the people from this region. "Hearing the voices of people who have a common heritage with me," she said, "was an exhilarating experience." "I was very proud to see my two friends sharing their knowledge, expertise, and talent with a wider and appreciative audience," said Dr. Donna Watson, director of BC's Teacher Education Program who attended the conference at Marshall University.