Don Rothman Award in First-Year Writing

“My effort to help them become stronger writers engages a host of contradictions. I want them to use what they know about the world to illuminate our class inquiry, and I want them to become passionate researchers of others’ scholarly work at the same time. I want them to claim a level of authority as writers, and I want them to step out of the way to engage others’ work. This is a difficult dance.”

— Don rothman, “The Writing Program as a Laboratory for Democracy
Animation is Sammy Slug at a protest. They are standing at a podium in a blue hoodie. Hands hold two protest signs in the background that say: "The Real Change is Us" and "Our Voices Will Define the Century" in pink.

Don Rothman, 39-year member of Oakes College and Writing Program faculty, founded this award to honor the achievements of one or more first-year students in the genre of nonfiction, academic, analytic writing, and to recognize excellence in writing pedagogy. Monetary awards total up to $2,000 per year and are presented to the award winners at a public ceremony.

Guidelines & Application

To submit your writing to the judging committee for the Don Rothman Endowed Award in First-Year Writing, please review the guidelines below. A submission form will be released.

  • The writing project you submit must have originated in a first-year writing course during 2022-23 academic year (Writ 1, Writ 1E, Writ 2, Writ 2H, Writ 25, Writ 26) and should demonstrate serious engagement with issues raised in the class, including the importance and impact of other writers’ ideas.
  • If the project is a traditional essay, it must be under 2500 words. All pages of the essay must be numbered and without the applicant or instructor name.
  • The committee only considers one submission per student, and automatically considers only the last submission a student makes — so if you have already submitted an essay and you want to submit a newer version or a different essay entirely, you may create a new submission. However, please do not submit a second essay if you want the original essay you submitted to be considered.

Judging: In the fall, a team of Writing Program faculty determine the winning submissions from the previous academic year.

Awards Ceremony: Students whose essays are selected for the award as well as faculty in whose classes the essays originated are recognized at an awards ceremony in the academic year following the submission deadline.

Essays selected to receive an award are posted to the Writing Program Website, shared at the Awards Ceremony, and may be published and distributed within the UCSC community.