UTM’s The Switch Awarded 3rd Place in Undergraduate Writing Competition


By Shannon Taylor


MEET THE TEAM-Photo Caption: Top Row: Edward “Tre” Ruff; Nicholas Andrews; Isabelle Merickle; Emily Hailey; Ava Johnson; Spencer Quillen Bottom Row: Ryesa McGehee; Elle Edwards; Mari Morgan; Amber Thomas.[/caption]

The Switch, UTM's undergraduate-ran literature and fine arts magazine, has been awarded 3rd place in the literary magazine category of the 2024 Southern Literary Festival's Undergraduate Writing Competition.

Formerly known as Beanswitch, the rebranding happened in 2023 when those involved intended to take the magazine online in order to reach a broader demographic and be more marketable in the digital space, according to Professor Maari Carter, Assistant Professor of English and Faculty Advisor for The Switch.

“We thought, something a little cleaner and a little bit more eye-catching, so the staff voted, and it became The Switch,” Carter stated.

Everyone involved still wanted to honor the previous name and not stray too far away from all the hard work of all the people who brought the magazine to where it is.

“Just dropping the bean, we hoped it would still honor the original name while moving us a little bit more towards hopefully a larger readership and operating in that digital space,” Carter said.

“At the beginning of 2023, we voted to change the magazine's name from BeanSwitch to The Switch. A change in the name had been talked about for a couple of years, and it was exciting to be part of the leadership that 'flipped the switch.' I am proud to say that we modernized the name while paying homage to the magazine's history as well. With that change came a constitutional revision, new logo, and updated mission statement. Without my dedicated team and the encouragement of my advisor, Dr. Maari Carter, none of that would have been possible,” former editor-in-chief and Masthead, Leo Honbarger said.

Carter, who had previous experience with literary magazines, took over as Faculty Advisor in 2021 with intentions of shadowing the former faculty Advisor, Dr. Chris Hill.

“I was very eager to get going. I’m not exactly a watch and see type of person and I was very excited to get going and started working with students,” Carter said.

Carter does not, however, want the spotlight on her, as she said that the success of the magazine had everything to do with the students involved.

Carter credits the success to Leo Honbarger, who graduated from UTM in 2023, and art editor Tia Runyons.

“They very much spearheaded the compilation of that issue. They led discussions around submissions, and I was really proud of the issue,” Carter said.

“Creating the 2022-2023 issue of The Switch was an honor. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to not only work with an amazing staff but also have the ability to observe such amazing works by our designers, artists, poets, authors, and writers that sent their pieces to us. None of it would have been possible without our contributors. I personally would like to shout out Sarah Haig, my biggest supporter, Jason Stout, Leo Honbarger, our wonderful chief editor, and Dr. Maari Carter, our advisor, for giving me the opportunity to design last year’s magazine. Without those named above and every single contributor, third place would not have been achieved,” Runions stated.

“So much went into the last issue of the magazine that I can't give enough credit to everyone who helped along the way. Our Art Editor, Tia, was so dedicated to the magazine's design. She brought our ideas to life and really shined a spotlight on the work of our contributors. Her creative eye stitched together the work of poets, artists, and storytellers on the page. It wasn't long before the magazine started to tell its own story, too. Ryesa played an essential part in outreach as our Social Media Manager, ensuring that students following along on social media had answers to their questions and information about submitting. She is now the current editor of the magazine. Then, when The Switch faced censorship, Ms. Tomi McCutchen found a publisher who understood our vision. Of course, none of it would have been possible without the guidance of our faculty advisor, Dr. Maari Carter,” Honbarger said.

In the past, Martin has not only hosted, but also attended the Southern Literary Festival, and after COVID, the University had not attended in a while so Carter thought, “what better way to reinvigorate interest on behalf of the student body in attending this conference, while also facilitating networking opportunities for our current staff.”

After submitting the issue in October 2023, Carter said they just played a waiting game until the good news came in that they had placed third.

“I’m very proud of the work that all the staff put in this past year. They’re all so passionate and they dedicate so much time that I want all the emphasis to be on them,” Carter said.

So much of The Switch's success is owed to the talented writers and artists who submitted to the magazine. Our staff wanted to elevate as many voices as possible and represent the diverse experiences of people across our campus and community. Our incredible volunteers worked all year to spread awareness of the magazine on social media and on campus. We also opened submissions to new mediums and genres, such as one-act plays,” Honbarger said.

The winning edition of The Switch will go online at the end of the semester where that issue and other past issues will be available on the site.