Hidden Talent Among Undergrads

‘And the best essay goes to …’ On May 19, UCI’s Phineas Banning Alumni House near Middle Earth was set aside for the Writing Awards ceremony to recognize the winners of the Writing Awards Tea contest.
This is the 10th year that the contest has taken place. The first one took place in May 1994 and was created to encourage and recognize students who deserve an award for their excellent writing abilities.
In the comfy setting of a living room area, the Alumni House filled up with faculty, directors, winners and their families. They were all gathered to celebrate the outstanding writing achievements that students accomplished in their lower-division writing courses.
The best analytical essay went to Andrew Oldham, a first-year biology major who won for his Writing 39B paper ‘Ocean of Rhetoric.’
‘I’m a bio major and I don’t particularly like writing, but my essay turned out to be good. My actual rough draft paper actually wasn’t that great. It was something that clicked between the rough draft and the final draft,’ Oldham said.
The best narrative went to Anthony Wong, a first-year physics major, who had the opportunity to read his narrative ‘Hamburger for Chopsticks’ out loud on the podium.
‘My professor e-mailed me about a personal narrative contest and I thought my essay was pretty good, so I turned it in. I didn’t think much of it but they called me up and said I won. It felt pretty good. I mean, it is an award,’ Wong said.
Many other awards were given such as the Nora Folkenflik Memorial Award, which was awarded to Lisa Wright, a third-year English major.
‘I was ecstatic when I won. It really truly is an honor,’ Wright said.
Cheerful applauds were given to the outstanding recipients who shined in the midst of the thousands of papers written each quarter.
There were over 50 nominations this year for the students who have done particularly well.
Three judges were involved in the process, all of whom were all faculty members.
Amy Parsons, Writing 39C instructor and judge for the research paper, explained the difficulty of choosing the best research paper.
‘It was only hard because all of them were really good and impressive,’ Parsons said.
To be recognized as the best, students had to be exceptional, original, precise, able to express their thoughts, able to choose the right words and details and have the willingness to be patient.
That afternoon was a rare occasion to acknowledge outstanding writers not only from the humanities department but also from other schools.
‘A lot of lower-division students are from departments like biology and computer science and they don’t really consider themselves as writers. There are obviously strong writers in all departments, so it’s just a way to celebrate that and give students the recognition that they deserve,’ said Andrea Troyer, assistant course director of the English and comparative literature department and coordinator of the ceremony.
Not only did the award come with a certificate to frame on the wall of their homes, but students were also given a cash award of $100 to spend however they wished.
Hopefully in the years to come, there will be even more outstanding writers to model after and learn from.