2011-2012 Board of Trustees Writing Award Winners

At the first academic convocation of the school year, the Division of Humanities announced the winners of the second annual Union College Board of Trustees Writing Awards. The awards were introduced last year to recognize Union students’ writing abilities and encourage further development. “Writing is the foundation for most careers,” explained Michelle Mesnard, chair of the Division of Humanities. “We needed to make it a more important part of the curriculum.”

A panel of judges comprised of Union faculty, staff and alumni, chose the best writers in each of four categories: First-Year Research Writing, Upper-Division Research Writing, Expository Writing, and Creative Writing. The winner of each category receives a $1000 cash prize. “I really think it’s good to reward students for doing good work,” said Tamara Seiler, a creative writing judge. “It teaches them to develop a good editing process—your work can greatly improve from a first draft. With this award they’re not just handing in a paper to get a grade, there are far more possibilities.”

This year the award for first-year research writing went to sophomore art and graphic design double major Aphelandra Messer for her paper “Fairy Tale Flaws: Misogynist Messages in ‘Cinderella.’”

“I've always enjoyed fairy tales, and I'm the type of person who likes to analyze and critique everything—especially things I enjoy,” she said. “I’m also interested in feminist theory, so I thought my paper would be a perfect opportunity for me to explore both those interests.”

Michael Rohm, junior international communications and relief major, won the classification for upper-division research writing with his paper “Zorba and the Pursuit of Liberation,” and the category for creative writing was given to junior pre-allied health major Sarah Ventura for her work “Responses to and Inspirations from the Poems of Sappho.”

The award for expository writing was once again taken by junior psychology major Laura Selivanoff for her piece “Nadejda: A Narrative of a Russian Emigre, 1896-1995.”

“My great-grandmother, Nadejda, was both the subject of and the inspiration for my essay,” she said. “She was born in 1896 in Russia and personally experienced some significant historical events. I have wanted to learn more about her ever since I learned the meaning and pronunciation of my middle name, which is her first name spelled slightly differently. I discovered that she was an amazing person and lived through some really tough times. Yet through it all, she maintained a positive attitude and a strong faith in God. I was fortunate enough to meet her before she died, and I'll never forget her warm, caring personality and her infectious smile.”

“I think the Writing Awards are important because it’s a way for Union to express appreciation towards good writing and good writers,” said Messer. “Not only are they recognizing the work, they’re recognizing the students behind it, and that builds a relationship between the college and its students. When I won, I didn’t just feel ecstatic about winning; I felt connected with Union.”

Details and submission guidelines for this year’s writing awards program are already posted around campus. All eligible students are encouraged to submit their work. For assistance with writing projects, consultants in The Studio for Writing and Speaking (library room 116) are available to help with ideas, editing and revisions. The Studio is open Monday through Thursday from 6-10 p.m. and Sunday from 1-3 p.m.