2018-19 Don Rothman Endowed Award in First-Year Writing

(L to R) Brenda Sanfilippo (winner's instructor), Madeline Lane (Rothman Committee member), Brij Lunine (Rothman Committee member), Ellen Newberry (Rothman Committee Chair), Sophie Gilliland (award winner), Tracy Rocha (award winner), Danielle Garcia (award winner), Chancellor Cynthia Larive, Robin King (Rothman Committee member), VPDUE Richard Hughey, Annalisa Rava (Rothman Committee member), Writing Program Chair Tonya Ritola, Mark Baker (Rothman Committee member), Philip Longo (winner's instructor) Picture by: Steve Kurtz

 2018-19 Award Recipients

- First Place - 
Danielle Garcia
"The Ongoing Fight for Equity"
(Instructor: Ellen Newberry)

Danielle Garcia  

My essay is a response to Dr. Martin Luther King, addressing the social and racial tensions that continue to manifest themselves in new ways. If the ways we define and experience racism change to meet what is socially acceptable at the time, does it not make sense for activist strategies also to adapt? Especially in the past decade with the rise of social media, we are all more in tune to the rallies and protests that congregate to publicly address social issues. Yet to me, it almost seemed like these strategies of mass outcry, made impactful by leaders like Dr. King in the civil rights era, often don’t result in action that changes the policies that perpetuate injustice along racial lines. To me, this essay served as a way to express my concerns of intergenerational tension among activists, respectability politics, colorblind rhetoric, systemic racism, and policing. Although writing about social problems that I am passionate about came pretty naturally, I found it very difficult to narrow my focus and write in a way that was simultaneously critical and appreciative of our shared histories. These are issues that can be uncomfortable to talk about, yet are facts of living in our country and directly affect thousands of people on a daily basis.

- First Place -
Tracy Rocha
"Gateway into the Mainstream: Transgender Representation in American Visual Media"
(Instructor: Brenda Sanfilippo)

 Tracy Rocha   

As a computer engineering major, I went into Writing 2 with a "fine, if I have to" attitude. Yes, it was Hamilton themed, but I still wasn't excited for the essays I knew I would have to write. But because my professor, Brenda Sanfilippo, gave us the freedom to write about anything "Hamilton-adjacent," I was able to find a topic that matters to me. I myself am not trans, but I am queer, and writing about an issue relevant to my community made the writing itself much easier. Don't get me wrong, I still spent a lot of time researching, writing, and revising this essay. But through writing this essay, I learned that it doesn't just matter how much time you put into your writing or how good your grasp of grammar and style is; the best pieces of writing will come when you care about what you're doing.

(Instructor: Phil Longo)
Sophie  Gilliland

 The question I get a lot about my essay is, “How did you even find out about the Sámi?” The honest answer is I took Phil’s advice about always starting with Wikipedia and did a deep dive into Arctic countries because I was interested. The Sámi intrigued me because they were virtually unknown and they seem to be neglected by the Fennoscandian countries that typically guarantee their citizens a high standard of living. By including the indigenous aspect of climate change in my essay, I was able to incorporate my interests in ecology, environmental stewardship, and anthropology. This essay helped me discover what I’d like to continue to research and learn about. My excitement about and interest in my research topic even led me to have a small crisis while I was writing this essay last winter. I wondered what I was doing with my life, a question that granted doesn’t seem too uncommon in college. Essentially writing is a way of making meaning and exploring, not just in regards to whatever one may be writing about or researching, but also in terms of self and goals.

- Second Place - 
Kira Wates-Williams
"Why the United States Should Change its Immigration Policy: How Immigration Policy Change Led to MS 13"
(Instructor: Erica Halk)

Meg Mindlin

This paper was written on the topic of U.S. immigration policy in response to refugees from El Salvador in the 1980s to show how the same mistakes are being made today. Many people’s lives are negatively impacted by today’s debate surrounding the topic, and the current presidential administration’s policies have brought to light the xenophobia and racism present in America. Without reform it is possible we are doomed to repeat a dark history. It is important to me that people realize the negative effects that American immigration policy has had on shaping one of the deadliest gangs, and how it is vital that we don't repeat the same mistakes.


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