2009-2010 Don Rothman Endowed Award in First-Year Writing Recipients

First Place

Molly Carpenter, for "Functional Creativity,"
(Jeff Arnett, Instructor)

Carpenter CoverI want to quickly acknowledge how lucky I am to attend a university that encourages original and creative thought through writing, regardless of whether you’re an Engineering or Art major. Although I’ve always loved to write, I don’t think I knew how to truly write thoughtfully until I took Jeff Arnett’s class. I first signed up for the course because I thought it sounded interesting (“The Creative Spirit”), but it really ended up demanding more, both academically and mentally, than any other class I’ve taken here at UCSC. Besides enriching our creativity through student-run “Creativity Days”, like walking to Tree 9 where we sat in a circle playing instruments or making masks out of paper plates, Jeff consistently pushed me to be the very best writer I could be (no matter how many drafts it took). Finally, his class led me to question what creativity really is—although some of us are said to be “more creative” than others, I hope that my research paper demonstrates that it has a functional purpose in each of us and it only takes recognizing that to truly experience it. —Molly Carpenter

Full text of "Functional Creativity"

Second Place

Maribeth Rohman, for “Revamping the Renaissance: An Annotated Bibliography”
(James Wilson, Instructor)

In 2006, I had the pleasure of visiting Italy. However, It wasn’t until Professor Wilson’s class, “Writing About Contemporary Italy,” that I began to understand, or even really appreciate, the culture that I had been taking for granted.

This class did not only fulfill a C2 writing requirement, but also an urge to further understand my Nana. Despite still retaining distant memories of her demonstrating culinary proficiency or expressing deep confusion and concern at my exposed midriff, Nana’s early death had left a hole in my heritage.

This empty canoli, if you will, drew me towards anything and everything Italian. However, while this class fulfilled a general education requirement, I am happy to say that it only fueled my passion for Italian culture.

Professor Wilson’s guided readings allowed us to approach topics like Existentialism, art restoration, and personal vs. political justice. We examined each concept through a unique Italian perspective that gave us more insight than any history book ever could.

Now armed with a better understanding of Italian culture, an improved writing style, and, as always, Nana in mind, I plan to study abroad in Rome next fall.

Although I can’t thank Professor Wilson enough for the guidance he continually provided, next year I will have to start thanking him with postcards. Maribeth Rohman

Full text of "Revamping the Renaissance"

Honorable Mentions

Eric Harrod, for Collaboration in Angels in America
(Bob Giges, Instructor)

When considering all the teachers I’ve had, I realize that very few have known me as a person, instead of only knowing me as a student. Bob Giges is among these few teachers. I have taken two classes with Bob, Porter Core and Improv Acting. During this time, I developed in strong and visible ways, finding within myself abilities that, without his guidance, may have never been fully realized. He challenged me to think and question, to understand and comprehend, and by doing so helped me to find a voice in my writing, and later even a voice in acting. Bob has an excellent ability to perceive his students’ ideas and interests, and is able to offer concise, thoughtful critiques and encouragement toward all their endeavors. In his classes, I found myself in an environment where stretching one’s mind and boundaries is a constant process; and through this process I have created words, written and spoken, in ways I never had before. —Eric Harrod


Rachel Jacobson, for Traditional Iran, Modern Rebellion
(Virginia Benitez, Instructor)

I came into Virginia Benitez's class knowing only what I was taught in high school: that good writing meant an essay with a thesis statement that lists three things, three body paragraphs with topic sentences that refer back to the thesis statement, and three sub-points within each paragraph that relate back to the topic sentence. Then a conclusion that neatly restates what you've just said— bonus points if you use different words.

But I came out of Virginia's class knowing that this formula is no substitute for genuine insight. Knowing that good writing doesn't mean talking about a subject with marginally coherent sentences, but actually saying something about that subject. In other words, Virginia taught us that good writing is really an extension of good thinking.

Good writers don't just list information, but rather study their subject from every angle. Good writers are unafraid to consider things like nuance and ambiguity. In fact, they embrace subtlety and attempt to explore it to the best of their abilities.

And since the reason we come to university is to learn how to think (as opposed to what to think), I count myself lucky to have started my college career with a Core teacher like Virginia. —Rachel Jacobson


Michele Jennings, for Socialization Turns to Terrorization
(Mrinal Sinha, Instructor)

Mrinal Sinha, or Ranu as his students know him, was exactly the instructor I needed. Since I already had experience in analytical writing before taking Core, Ranu took my writing and the way that I engage with other writers' works to the next level. Through enriching classrooms discussions, I was challenged to be an active participant in what I was reading and to assert my own thoughts confidently. This skill helped immensely when it came time to write my winning essay, “Terrorization Turns to Socialization,” which explores the prevalence of heteronormativity in schools, how this can encourage the use of homophobic slurs and gay bashing from junior high all the way to the university level, and eventually what this means for homosexual students' well being. Ranu was incredibly supportive as I wrote this paper, and even more importantly, pointed me toward useful sources that would ultimately become the basis of my factual evidence.

I would like to thank him and the UCSC community for creating an environment that encourages thoughtful discussion and engagement as a means of writing analytically. —Michele Jennings


Keira Nolan, for Persepolis: The Complexity of Simplification
(Bob Giges, Instructor)


Joelle Vann, for Introducing Animals as Living, Breathing, Thinking, Feeling
(Annalisa Rava)