Friday, June 12th, 2015
In 1966, Washington State University graduate student Dorys Grover joined the fledgling Western Literature Association and started attending its conferences. From her books on WLA’s first Distinguished Achievement Award recipient Vardis Fisher to her work on Hemingway and Graves, Professor Grover helped to develop the field of western American literary studies. After teaching for over two decades at East Texas State University, Professor Grover retired in 1993, splitting her time between Texas and Pendleton, Oregon, where she grew up.
One of her doctoral students, Joyce Kinkead, Professor of English at Utah State University, has created the Dorys Grover Award in recognition of her mentor’s dedication to both western American literature and to graduate students. Now in its second year, the Dorys Grover Award, in the amount of $200 each, will be given to two graduate students presenting at this year’s annual conference whose papers contribute to our critical understandings of region, place, and space in western American literatures.
Creative work is not considered for the Grover Awards.
Please submit an abstract by the proposal deadline (June 1, 2015). Once your proposal has been accepted, submit the complete, conference-length paper (not exceeding 15 pages) with a cover letter indicating that you wish to be considered for the Grover Award to WLAConference2015@westernlit.org. The deadline for the completed paper is August 15.
You may submit the same paper for the Taylor Award, if you wish.
Note: The award can only be received once.
Saturday, May 1st, 2010
Grads are warmly welcomed. The WLA is proud to be a “graduate-friendly” association, and the yearly meetings have a convivial, encouraging atmosphere where graduate students don’t have to worry about feeling out of place.
Grads have got the numbers. The WLA has a significant graduate student contingency. Nearly 20% of its members are graduate students, many of whom are on their way to becoming life-long members.
Grads make professional connections. Students can rub elbows with some of the finest scholars and writers in the field. They can make professional connections that help them during their careers.
Grads make friends. Students can create close personal connections that keep them coming back to WLA year after year. Events like the special graduate student luncheon allow students to get to know each other, and students say they’ve made life-long friends at the WLA.
Grads are in the mainstream. Students are fully integrated into panels and events, instead of relegated to graduate-only events that run separate from the main conference. Often, students have the experience of being placed on panels next to the best scholars in the field.
Grads are represented. In recent years, the WLA has gone to greater lengths to ensure that the graduate student population feels that their professional concerns are being met. A graduate student representative sits on the association’s Executive Council, the governing body that makes decisions related to the conference and the running of the association’s journal Western American Literature.
Grads get career advice. The WLA cares about your academic future. Each conference meeting features at least one roundtable panel session on issues of professional development.
Grads get recognized. Each year the association recognizes excellence in grad student writing by awarding the J. Golden Taylor Award for Best Essay Submitted to the WLA Conference by a Graduate Student.
Grads can grow. The WLA fosters intellectual growth, for graduate students and full professors alike, within a supportive environment. Grads get to be part of a lively exchange of ideas within an energetic, dynamic organization.
Grads can have fun. The WLA’s annual conference is held in a variety of locales, so that when participants aren’t attending sessions, they can enjoy everything from fine art museums to spectacular nature trails. Organizers plan a host of events, including field trips, readings from world-renowned writers, a banquet and dance, and an annual comic play written and performed WLA members themselves.
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Monday, March 1st, 2010
Graduate Student Representative
Over the years, more and more graduate students have started attending the annual Western Literature Association Conference. Now every fifth member of the Western Literature Association is a graduate student. Therefore, since 2001, the association’s Executive Council has included a Graduate Student Representative who is elected by the membership at large. Beginning in 2011, two grad student representatives serve on the council. Each graduate student representative serves a two-year term, and a new representative is elected each year.
Each Grad Rep’s responsibilities include:
If you are interested in submitting your name for nomination as Grad Student Representative, please contact the current WLA president. Note: The Graduate Student Reps are appointed for two years, and the Western Literature Association expects that appointment to be carried out. So please don’t nominate yourself or accept a nomination for Graduate Student Rep if you expect to finish your degree before the end of spring semester of your second year.
Contact your current graduate student representatives:
Senior Student Rep:
Jaquelin Pelzer (rep: 2013-2015)
University of Colorado, Boulder
Jaquelin Pelzer is a PhD student at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Junior Student Rep:
Sylvan Goldberg (rep: 2014-2016)
University of Nevada, Reno
Sylvan Goldberg is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at Stanford University. He holds an MA in Literature and Environment from the University of Nevada, Reno. His current research focuses on nineteenth-century American literature, sentimentalism, and westward exploration narratives, addressing questions of ecocriticism, gender and sexuality, affect, and aesthetics.
Past Graduate Student Reps:
William V. Lombardi, University of Nevada, Reno, 2012-2014
Ashley Reis, University of North Texas, 2011-2013
Matt Lavin, University of Iowa, 2010-2012
Kerry Fine, Texas Tech University, 2008-2011
Angela Waldie, University of Calgary, 2006-2008
Drucilla Wall, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2005-2006
Matthew R. Burkhart, University of Arizona, 2003-2005
Anne L. Kaufman, University of Maryland, 2001-2003
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Thursday, April 1st, 2010
Graduate students are eligible for a discounted membership to the Western Literature Association ($40 for US students, $64 for students with a mailing address outside of the United States). The membership includes a subscription to the scholarly journal Western American Literature, distributed quarterly, and access to the online membership directory.
Please note that anyone presenting a paper at the annual conference must be a member of the WLA. If you’d like to become a member and/or subscriber:
- or download and print our WLA Membership Form 2016 (pdf) and send it to us at Western Literature Association, PO Box 6815, Logan UT 84341.
- or download and fill in WLA Membership Form 2016 (docx) and send it to us at Western Literature Association, PO Box 6815, Logan UT 84341.
Students MUST fill in the membership form in order to qualify for the student discount. Don’t forget to mention your affiliation!
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Monday, February 1st, 2010
WLA Grad Student Group on Facebook
Would you like a place to network with other WLA graduate students? The icon below links directly to our Facebook group, which will be visible only once you’ve logged in. If you are taken to a login screen, type in your user info and the URL will carry you straight to the group. Then hit “join.” The group is listed as “closed,” so your request will process only after an administrator has approved it. Membership is required to access message boards and wall posts. Join today and share your academic interests with other grad students, post academic inquiries, arrange conference room/ride sharing, and any other thing that you think would supplement your membership in WLA.
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Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
Submitting a Conference Paper
WLA’s annual conference includes panel sessions where participants read scholarly or creative works related to the literature of western America and culture. Each paper presentation is allowed approximately 20 minutes (which is about 10 pages of double-spaced text). If you need some instruction on how to write an abstract for a conference paper, check out the details provided here: Conference Abstracts. Please see conference details for the current WLA Conference. If you have any questions regarding these awards, contact the current WLA Presidents.
Award for Best Graduate Student Paper Submitted to the Conference
In 1984, the J. Golden Taylor Award for Best Essay Submitted to the WLA Conference by a Graduate Student was awarded for the very first time to Anne K. Phillips (now associate professor and assistant department head in English at Kansas State University). Named in honor of the first editor of Western American Literature, the Taylor Award is a prestigious award juried by a team of experts in the field and given annually to a work of scholarship submitted for the annual conference. Creative work is not considered for the Taylor; however, creative work may be submitted to the association’s Manfred Prize, and graduate student participants have been successful in winning that in the past (see Manfred Award). To be eligible for the Taylor award, please submit a conference paper proposal by June 15 and a complete paper of no more than 15 pages (if your proposal is accepted) by August 15, to WLAconference2015@westernlit.org, asking to be considered for the award. Note: The award can only be received once.
A few Taylor alumni at the 2009 Conference in Spearfish, SD: Front row: Joshuah O’Brien (2009), Cheryll Glotfelty (1987) [initiator and editor of the the WLA Syllabus Exchange], Matthew Lavin (2008) [co-editor of the WLA Syllabus Exchange project] Back row: Matt Burkhart (2003), Nancy Cook (1988) [present WLA Treasurer, 2011 WLA President], Anne Kaufman (1998) [2014 WLA Co-President], Evelyn Funda (1993) [former WAL Book Review Editor]
2014: Aubrey Streit Krug, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
2013: Heather Dundas, University of Southern California
2012: Sylvan Goldberg, Stanford University
2011: Christopher Muniz, University of Southern California
2010: Alex Young, University of Southern California
2009: Joshuah O’Brien, West Texas A&M
2008: Matthew J. Lavin, University of Iowa
2007: Patrick Gleason, University of California, San Diego
2006: Angela Waldie, University of Calgary
2005: John Gamber, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
2004: Ianina Arnold, University of Idaho
2003: Matt Burkhart, University of Arizona
2002: Laurie Clements Lambeth, University of Houston
2001: Virginia Kennedy, Montclair State University
2000: Jenny Emery Davidson, University of Utah
1999: Jenny Emery Davidson, University of Utah
1998: Anne L. Kaufman
1997: Jonathan Pitts, SUNY-Buffalo
1996: Wes Mantooth
1995: Phil Coleman-Hull
1994: David Mazel
1993: Evelyn I. Funda, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln
1989: Nat Lewis
1988: Nancy Cook, SUNY-Buffalo
1987: Cheryll Burgess Glotfelty, Cornell University
1986: Linda A. Hughson-Ross
1984: Anne K. Phillips
The Dorys Grover Awards
In 1966 Washington State University graduate student Dorys Grover joined the fledgling Western Literature Association and started attending its conferences. From her books on WLA’s first Distinguished Achievement Award recipient Vardis Fisher to her work on Hemingway and Graves, Professor Grover helped to develop the field of western American literary studies. After teaching for over two decades at East Texas State University, Professor Grover retired in 1993, splitting her time between Texas and Pendleton, Oregon, where she grew up.
One of her doctoral students, Joyce Kinkead, Professor of English at Utah State University, has created the Dorys Grover Award in recognition of her mentor’s dedication to both western American literature and to graduate students. Now in its second year, the Dorys Grover Award, in the amount of $200 each, will be given to two graduate students presenting at this year’s 50th annual conference whose papers contribute to our critical understandings of region, place, and space in western American literatures.
Creative work is not considered for the Grover Awards.
Please submit an abstract by the proposal deadline (usually in mid-June). Once your proposal has been accepted, submit the complete, conference-length paper (not exceeding 15 pages) with a cover letter indicating that you wish to be considered for the Grover Award to WLAConference2015@westernlit.org. The deadline for the completed paper is August 15.
You may submit your paper to both the Taylor and the Grover Awards (as long as it fits the criteria for the Grover Awards).
Note: the award can only be received once.
The Louis Owens Awards for Graduate Student Presenters
The WLA honors the great writer and scholar Louis Owens for his contributions to western American and American Indian literary studies and for his unfailing generosity as a colleague, teacher, and mentor. The goal of the Louis Owens Awards is to build for the future of the Western Literature Association by modeling Owens’ own support and encouragement of diverse graduate student engagement in western literature and culture studies. The Owens Awards are intended to foster ever-greater diversity within the WLA membership, to help broaden the field of western American literary studies, and to recognize both graduate student scholarship and financial need.
The Owens Award consists of a cash award valued at up to $700. (The exact amount depends on donations and on the number of awards given.) To apply, please submit the following materials by Sept. 1 to Prof. Priscilla Ybarra:
1. A completed application form.
2. A copy of your WLA conference proposal.
3. A writing sample of 8-10 pages, double-spaced. This does not have to be on the same topic as the conference proposal but should reflect your work in the field of western American literary and cultural studies.
Download the Louis Owens Award Application 2015. Note: The award can only be received once. For information on writing an abstract, see conference abstracts. All other questions in regards to the Owens Award/s should be directed to Prof. Priscilla Ybarra.
If you’d like to download a flier with this information, click here. Please forward the information to any graduate student who may be eligible to apply.
Meet our Owens Recipient from 2011: Johannes Fehrle
I came to my first WLA conference as a graduate student in 2010. I was working on a Ph.D. dissertation on revisionist Westerns in Candian and U.S. American literature at Freiburg University in Southern Germany and found myself pretty much in isolation from other scholars working on western American literature and culture. At this point, I had given papers in colloquia and at Ph.D. conferences, but the WLA Conference was the first “real” conference I submitted a paper to. In retrospect, I have to say I could not have chosen a better conference or wished for a more welcoming, interested and supportive group of scholars and colleagues. Since that first conference, my ties and gratefulness to the WLA have only deepened. I was lucky enough to receive the Owens Award in 2011, which allowed me to return. The contacts and friends I made at these conferences have benefitted me immensely: I received valuable feedback for my dissertation because I got to test new ideas by presenting early versions of my dissertation chapters at the conference. My talks have also led to publications with other members.
Now that I am a bit more firmly situated in the academic world (I completed my Ph.D. in 2012 and am for the time being gainfully employed at a university), I am glad to be able to give back to the organization. Since 2013, I have been a member of the Executive Council, which discusses the future of the organization. Telling my colleagues about my positive experience, I was able to recruit other German scholars to attend the conference. Their experience has been much the same as mine: they benefitted greatly in their research and were awed by the openness of the community at the conference. Even though I travel farther than most, like many other attendees, I set aside time and money to travel to the WLA Conference each year, and I am glad to say I have yet to miss one.
—Johannes Fehrle, University of Mannheim (2015)
In 2007, Grad Rep Angela Waldie organized WLA’s first annual Graduate Student Professionalization Panel, a roundtable panel session in which fellow graduate students and experienced faculty members give brief remarks on career-related issues, and then the session is opened up for discussion among all those attending. Since then, we have sometimes had two Grad Student Professionalization Panels. Past professionalization panels have discussed why graduate students should aim to publish and ways they can do just that, how to maximize your time and effort when writing a thesis or dissertation, ways to conquer the first-time teacher jitters, transitioning from an MA program to a PhD program, and what to expect at your thesis or dissertation defense. To request a topic for the panel to cover, email your graduate student representatives, Jaquelin Pelzer and Sylvan Goldberg.
Additional Professionalization Information
For additional advice on a variety of professionalization issues, check out In Medias Res, no. 2. Unfortunately, this online newsletter for graduate students, edited by WLA member Evelyn Funda, Associate Professor of English at Utah State University, has been discontinued. (If the link is no longer available, please shoot me an email to let me know.) The newsletter was written by and for graduate students about their concerns regarding their professional lives.
Tuesday, December 1st, 2009
From 1997 to 2013, WLA’s scholarly journal Western American Literature offered graduate students enrolled in the graduate program at Utah State University a competitive stipend and the opportunity for training in the field of academic publishing. Two full editorial fellowships were available every year. See what our former fellows are up to now.
In 2013, the journal moved to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. We hope that fellowship opportunities will become available again in the near future.
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Monday, July 19th, 2010
Jacoba Mendelkow Poppleton
Angela Ashurst-McGee, 1997/98. Angela began work at the journal as the first-ever Thomas J. Lyon Fellow three months before her second son, Logan, was born.Since Angela’s fellowship was set up only for one year, she then taught composition at USU. She became the Assistant Director of Writing for English 1010 and helped plan the following year’s composition curriculum and train new instructors.
She has worked as a freelance editor and then as the associate editor of the Joseph Smith Papers Series. [You see, those editorial skills do come in handy after all sometimes!] She is now a certified professional resumé writer und the founder and president of Red Rocket Resumé.
A few words from Angela: “My experience at Utah State University was almost uniformly positive. I got a good education taking good classes from good teachers. Faculty members were uncommonly friendly and willing to give advice and act as mentors. The English department treats its master’s students like colleagues and professionals rather than peons; comp teachers and editorial fellows work alongside faculty and participate in department decision-making.”
Vanessa Hall, 1998-2000.Vanessa graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in English from Washington and Lee University in 1998. She then served as the first two-year fellow at Western American Literature.
Purdue University awarded her an Andrews Fellowship to pursue a PhD. Her major field is contemporary American literature and her minor fields are labor history and women’s studies. Her research and teaching interests also include gender and class in literature and culture, Native American literature, and western American literature. Her dissertation is a cultural biography of Raymond Carver.
In the fall of 2007, Vanessa was the first one of our editorial fellows to finish her PhD and become a professor of English. She took a position at the New York City College of Technology in downtown Brooklyn. After the birth of her third child, she decided to retreat to the Poconos, where baby #4 was born.
Sarah Rudd, 1999-2001. Sarah grew up in Salt Lake City and Mexico. She moved back to the Salt Lake City area, where she now works as a realtor. Sarah still thinks folklore rules and she contributed to a book on the history of folklore in Utah. The title of her contribution is “Utah Latino Folklore Studies.”
Matt Burkhart, 2000-2002. Matt grew up somewhere around Chicago, came to us from Missoula, and has now acquired a PhD from the University of Arizona in Tucson. He presently teaches at Colby College. His research focuses on western American studies, especially Native American and environmental literature. He won the J. Golden Taylor Award for best paper submitted to the WLA Conference in 2003. From 2003-2005 he served as the graduate student representative on the WLA Executive Council.
Alan Barlow, 2001-2003. Alan grew up in southern Utah and has a BA from Utah State University. His computer skills were indispensable in our office. After getting his master’s degree in English, he earned a master’s degree in Management and Human Resources at Utah State University and then served as Director of Human Resources at Wilderness Quest in Monticello, Utah. He was the Chief Compliance Officer and Human Resources Director for the Tule River Indian Health Center in Porterville, California, before moving to Fort Yates, North Dakota.
Angela Waldie, 2002-2004. During her tenure as Graduate Student Representative to the WLA Executive Council, Angela started a professionalization panel for graduate students who attend the WLA Conference. In 2006, she was the recipient of the J. Golden Taylor Award for best graduate student paper submitted to the WLA Conference. In 2012, Angela received her PhD from the University of Calgary. When not reading, researching, or teaching, Angela can be found exploring the hiking trails and hot springs of the Canadian Rockies, writing poetry, weaving, practicing yoga, or salsa dancing.
Sarah Vause, 2003-2005. Sarah has a BA from Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, where she grew up. She is now teaching classes at Utah State University and Weber State University. She is still running and hiking in the beautiful mountains of Utah.
Matthew Lavin, 2004-2006. Matt came to us from St. Lawrence University in upstate New York, where he also worked for a newspaper before going back to graduate school at USU. In 2008, Matt was the recipient of the J. Golden Taylor Award for best graduate student paper presented at the WLA Conference. For 2011 and 2012, Matt served as a graduate student representative on the Executive Board for the Western Literature Association. In 2012, he received his PhD from the University of Iowa. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, he is now the associate program coordinator of “Crossing Boundaries: Re-envisioning the Humanities for the 21st Century” at St. Lawrence University. Crossing Boundaries is a Mellon initiative dedicated to crossing the divide between private and public knowledge, the classroom and the wider community, real and virtual media for communication and communing with others by using digital technologies both in and outside the classrooms.
Sarah Stoeckl, 2005-2007. Sarah grew up in Salt Lake City. She was awarded the WAG Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award for writing the best MA thesis across all departments at Utah State University. In 2012, she received her PhD from the University of Oregon in Eugene.
Jacoba Mendelkow Poppleton, 2006-2008. Jacoba now works as a marketing representative at New Dawn Technologies, where she is responsible for web content, blogging, social media, event planning, and campaign management. She also diligently (maybe?) works on her own writing, and she certainly will never be able to resist a beautiful pair of shoes.
Diane Bush, 2007-2009. Diane has taken an editorial position with another academic journal, the Western Historical Quarterly. Her obsession with the Donner Party continues. Or does it? We hope to see her in Reno in 2015 to find out.
Pamela Pierce, 2008-2010. Pamela went on to study library science at Indiana University Bloomington, where she also worked at a journal titled Language@Internet. Pamela now works as a Retention Specialist at a Washington, D.C. area non-profit that helps former foster youths graduate college. She also volunteers at 826DC, an organization focused on teaching creative writing to elementary, middle, and high school students. She spends her weekends visiting independent bookstores, museums, and the historic sites of the East Coast.
Brett Sigurdson, 2010-2011. Brett loves to teach and write. He has moved back to the East Coast, where he is the editor of THE CHARLOTTE NEWS in Vermont. He and his wife, Kate, live on Lake Champlain. Apparently, the hiking and biking opportunities are fantastic.
Brett with his dog, Miles Davis, 2010.
Jaquelin Pelzer, 2010-2012. Jaquelin is pursuing a PhD at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and she is one of the graduate student reps on the Executive Council for the Western Literature Association for 2013-2015.
Jaquelin with her dog Macy in 2010.
Josh Anderson, 2011-2013. Josh is currently working on his PhD at Ohio State University, focusing on US ethnic and postcolonial literature with an emphasis on American Indian and working-class literature of the US West. In Columbus, Josh also continues to work in academic publishing, serving as an editorial assistant at Studies in American Indian Literatures (SAIL).
Friday, October 2nd, 2009
Graduate Book Review Fellows gain a wide range of experience in the publishing business by learning the qualities of a good book review, the intricacies of professional editing, and the process of taking a publication from submission to layout and then to finished product. This is an opportunity to get hands-on experience with journal publication and gain familiarity with the latest works of criticism in the field of western American literature. Previous fellows have gone on to successful Ph.D. programs and to other jobs in publishing.
Fellows write book reviews in their own subfields of interest and educational background—whether in criticism, fiction, poetry, cultural studies, etc. Acceptable reviews are printed in Western American Literature.
The graduate Book Review Fellow registers for 3 internship credits in the fall semester and is expected to work a set schedule of 8-10 hours a week for the term. During the spring semester the fellow will receive a course release. The duties will remain primarily the same, but the fellow will work more independently. Some hours will be expected during the summer months, but these are hours banked during the spring semester.
The weekly hours will generally be spent keeping track of books as they are received from publishers and as they are sent out to reviewers, contacting possible reviewers, database management, securing permissions for illustrations used in the journal, browsing catalogues to identify books to order for review, copyediting of reviews, and assisting with mailing the issue.
A major aspect of the Fellowship is the invaluable experience of working with academics in the field of literature and cultural studies and being a part of a scholarly journal publication.
The MECF Book Review Fellow must be enrolled in the master’s program in American Studies or Literature and Writing at Utah State University. Good writing and editing skills, some computer skills, and a general understanding of American literature are required. If you are interested in knowing more about the fellowship, please contact Sabine Barcatta, the managing editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This fellowship is generously funded by the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation in conjunction with USU’s English Department and the Western Literature Association.
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Monday, November 2nd, 2009
One fellowship is offered every academic year. They are alternately the Thomas J. Lyon Fellowship and the Western Literature Association Fellowship.
Award-A stipend of $12,000 will be awarded for the 2011-2012 academic year (20 hours/week starting in September 2011). This includes money for summer work and an out-of-state tuition waiver, and possibly an in-state tuition waiver. The fellowship may be retained for a second year, depending upon satisfactory progress toward the master’s degree and acceptable completion of editorial assignments.
Duties – Duties at WAL include helping select, prepare, and copyedit manuscripts, as well as a variety of other tasks required to produce a scholarly journal.
Requirements – The editorial fellow must enroll in Utah State University’s American Studies or Literature and Writing master’s program.
Options – During the fellow’s second semester, s/he may choose to co-teach a course in the English Department with a professor in his/her field. During the fellow’s third semester, s/he may choose to teach an undergraduate writing class. This affords the fellow a more varied graduate experience. Both times, WAL releases the fellow for a certain amount of hours.
Applications – Applicants should send a letter of application and three letters of recommendation to WAL, plus a full application to the USU graduate school. Materials must be postmarked no later than February 1, 2011. Applicants will be notified by early April. Address correspondence to:
Western American Literature
Utah State University
3200 Old Main Hill
or e-mail us at email@example.com.
NO EDITORIAL EXPERIENCE REQUIRED. IF YOU’RE APPLYING TO USU’S ENGLISH DEPARTMENT IN AMERICAN STUDIES OR IN LITERATURE AND WRITING, YOU QUALIFY TO APPLY FOR THIS FELLOWSHIP. DON’T BE SHY—APPLY!
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