2014-15 Don Rothman Endowed Award in First-Year Writing

(L to R) Laura Martin (instructor), Humanities Dean Tyler Stovall, Raquela Bases (award winner), Noah Dove (award winner), VPDUE Richard Hughey, Writing Program Chair Heather Shearer, Veronica Flanagan (Rothman Committee Chair), Noria Jablonski (instructor), Alma Morales (past award winner)

 2014-15 Award Recipients

- First Place - 
Morgan Halverson
"Hands"
(Instructor: Laura Martin)

First-Place Winner, Morgan Halverson

I am very grateful to be accepting this award. I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has made this award possible, and to my amazing teacher, Laura Martin. I believe that one of the greatest resources a student can have in any subject, is a teacher who is excited about her work and excited to help her students. That being said, I know from experience that you can’t rely on others to make you a better student, but you must possess a desire to succeed and a determination to work towards your goals. Writing this essay was difficult – as have been many essays before it, and as will be many essays to come – but with determination, and a few revisions, I believe that anyone can succeed. When I begin writing an essay, I almost never know what I’m going to write, or how I’m going to do it. The first few minutes – or hours, or days, sometimes– can be the most difficult. This essay was particularly challenging, as it required me to not only analyze written words but also to analyze my own feelings and attempt to understand them, through the context of the subject. I have a few tips that I found very useful in beginning, and in sticking with, my essay. First, don’t fear the prompt. Whatever you have been given, you can do. You are fully capable of anything you set your mind to. Take deep breaths as you break down what you need to do. Write it out, say it aloud, highlight it, visualize it, or even sing it! But don’t fear it. Next, be active. Take notes on your topic, read, ask questions, take field trips, and seek help. Don’t just be a bystander, engage with what you are doing; actively take note of everything you encounter. And do it in any way that works best for you. In my first step of writing, I find myself with long lists of bullet-pointed notes, and quotes, and anything that stands out to me. Not all of this will be necessary in the final essay, but this allows me to actively engage and be able to reference my ideas and sources later. And last, first impressions are never the best. Always read and critique your work. Don’t fear adding new ideas or taking some out. I can’t remember how many revisions I made to this essay, and how many emails I sent, pestering my teacher to ask her for advice. That, I suppose, is my very last piece of advice: never fear asking for help. There will always be someone out there who will be willing, and even happy, to help, be it a teacher, a tutor, or a fellow classmate. Be self-confident, stay determined, and don’t have fear; we are only as great as we aim to be. Again, thank you very much for this award. I am honored and humbled.

- Honorable Mention -
Noah Dove
"A Fish Out of Water"
(Instructor: Noria Jablonski)

Rothman Honorable Mention, Noah Dove

- Honorable Mention - 
Raquela Bases
"A Retroactive Taste of the Bitterness of Inequality"
(Instructor: Melissa Sanders-Self)

Honorable Mention, Raquela Bases

I find it easiest to write about subjects which have touched and left figurative finger prints upon me. When discussing institutionalized racism in Kresge Core, I was called to reflect on how it had affected me in my life. This composition was driven by the profound shock I felt when the tragedy and complexity of Edmund Perry’s end were unfolded for me. It felt natural to write a reflective piece on an experience of my mother’s that had resounded since its telling like a chilling drum beat. The story which inspired my essay was presented to me by my mother, but it is not only hers. Instead, as a bitter example of racism, it belongs to all who have felt the sting of inequality, directed at themselves or those they love, myself included.

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