First-Year Writing Awards

The First-Year Writing Awards

Showcasing outstanding achievement from students enrolled in WRDS 1103 and WRDS 1104

The First-Year Writing Awards highlight outstanding student writing in a variety of categories, writing genres, modes and writing situations. This work, created by students of WRDS 1103 and 1104, embodies the mission of The Writing, Rhetoric & Digital Studies Department: to support the growth of student writers as members of a writing community focusing on writing as a field of study, to support the acquisition of essential writing outcomes for student writers in the Academy and beyond, and to guide students to understand the practical role writing plays in all aspects of personal and professional life. The work showcased here demonstrates these ideals and The Writing, Rhetoric & Digital Studies Department is grateful for the students, faculty and administrators that have supported the growth of these exceptional writers.

Review Process

Working together with faculty, students in WRDS 1103 or WRDS 1104 submit compositions in four categories. These categories are:

  • WRDS 1103 Extended Inquiry Project
  • WRDS 1103 Portfolio
  • WRDS 1104 Extended Inquiry Project
  • WRDS 1104 Portfolio

Typically, The First-Year Writing Awards are held in the Spring semester and student work completed during the previous Fall/Summer/Spring semesters is considered. The Review Panel to consider submissions is comprised of a diverse range of Faculty from the WRDS Department as well as Faculty from other Departments.

Winning Submissions


Winner: Ethan Taylor
“Only SAE Can Be Spoken In This Room; No AAVE Allowed”
Instructor: Angela Mitchell

Honorable Mention: Chelsea Espinoza
“The No Child Left Behind Act: Effects on English Language Learners”
Instructor: Tonya Wertz-Orbaugh

Winner: Gia Cagle
“Why There Cannot Be A Universal Language: A Reader’s Guide”
Instructor: Gretchen Pratt

Honorable Mention: Paige Rony
“Analysis of Teaching Methods and the Individuality of Students: A Reader’s Guide”
Instructor: Cat Mahaffey

WRDS 1103 Portfolio
Winner: Megan Reen
“WRDS Final Portfolio”
Instructor: Tonya Wertz-Orbaugh

Honorable Mention: Ashleigh Sico
“WRDS Digital Reflection Letter”
Instructor: Angela Mitchell

WRDS 1104 Portfolio
Winner: Rae Gordon
“WRDS Final Portfolio” (coming soon!)
Instructor: Julie Cook

Honorable Mention: Lauren Peters
“WRDS Final Portfolio” (coming soon!)
Instructor: Julie Cook


WRDS 1103 Extended Inquiry
Winner: Laura Lucas
“Art Therapy and How It Helps People”
Instructor: Nadine Gordon

WRDS 1104 Extended Inquiry
Winner: Brian East
“Education Culture in America: A Reader’s Guide”
Instructor: Mary Ellen Muesing

WRDS 1104 Portfolio
Winner: Jessica Franco
“The Beauty of Plants: Accidental Discoveries”
Instructor: Marcelle Crickenberger

WRDS 1104 Portfolio (Special Recognition)
Winner: Angel Leija Herrera
Instructor: Suzanne Halaburda


WRDS 1103 Extended Inquiry
Winner: Kenneth Elrod
“A Tribute to Stan Lee and the Technological Universe He Inspired”
Instructor: Rebecca Agosta

WRDS 1104 Extended Inquiry
Winner: Dina Damiani
“Technology’s Impact On Our Fundamental Conception of Solitude: A Reader’s Guide”
Instructor: Linda Hofmann

WRDS 1104 Extended Inquiry
Winner: Etan Seebaluck
Instructor: Rebecca Agosta

WRDS 1104 Extended Inquiry Honorable Mention
Winner: Lesli Kathman
“My Jeffreys Family Research”
Instructor: Lynn Raymond