English doctoral student wins national leadership award

Courtesy of Duquesne University’s Website
Alexandra Reznik was recently honored with a national leadership award by the AACU.
Courtesy of The Incline
Alexandra Reznik was recently honored with a national leadership award by the AACU.

Sairah Aslam | Staff Writer


Pursuing a doctoral degree can be difficult, and sometimes the students that go above and beyond receive national attention. Alexandra Reznik, a doctoral candidate in Duquesne University’s English Department, recently received the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award.

According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), which distributes the award, Reznik’s achievement distinguishes her “exemplary promise as [a] future leader of higher education … who demonstrate[s] a commitment to developing academic and civic responsibility” in herself and in others.

The K. Patricia Cross Award was created in honor of the professor of the same name, who served as an administrator for several highly regarded universities such as Cornell and Harvard.

The award is open to doctoral-level graduate students nominated by a faculty member or administrator. In 2018, more than 200 individuals from 119 institutions submitted applications.

Reznik first studied at Chatham University, then acquired her master’s degree from Duquesne in English Literature. She has taught courses at both institutions, as well as in various Pittsburgh organizations. Now, she is the coordinator of the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Duquesne and collaborates with an organization called Girls’ Right, which hosts workshops to help empower young women.

“I am really invested in empowering others. The way I do this … is by exploring the way identities play roles in power systems,” she said. “If you’re able to understand what privileges and problems help define your identity, if people understood their individual roles within systems, fruitful change could really happen … I really try to break down walls and bring the world into the classroom.”

English Department Chair Greg Barnhisel said that Reznik is “one of the most outstanding students we’ve had in my 15 years at Duquesne. Allie excels as a student, teacher, colleague and community activist, and her accomplishments attest to her extraordinary character, leadership and integrity. ”

He suggested that Reznik be nominated, and dissertation director Kathy Glass did so. The two, as well as Center for Teaching Excellence Program Manager and former winner of the K. Patricia Cross Award Erin Rentschler, also assisted Reznik with application materials.

From Jan. 22 to 24, Reznik and the other six winners will travel to a special conference in Washington, D.C. and talk as a panel entitled “Faculty of the Future: Voices from the Next Generation.”

Reznik appreciates that all expenses will be covered by the AACU.

“I can really just focus on networking with university presidents, professors and administrators focused on making innovative improvements and doing meaningful work,” she said.