Their topics ranged from science to politics to history, but this year’s Aetna Writing in the Disciplines award winners share a common trait: They excel at writing.
The prizes, sponsored by an endowment from the Aetna Foundation, Inc. and matching funds from the State of Connecticut, went to students whose majors are in a variety of fields.
Karen Ren, a sophomore biological sciences major, won first prize for writing in the sciences and engineering for her essay on “The Evolutionary History of Avian Flight” (instructor, Carl Schlichting, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology).
Danielle Millar, School of Nursing ’12 (instructors, Cheryl Beck, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, and Heather Evans, assistant clinical professor), won first prize for social sciences writing for “Motherhood and Mental Illness: A Literature Review.”
Shepherd Stearns, an African American Studies major who is co-winner of first prize in the Humanities, studied President Barack Obama’s book and wrote “Backward through the Veil: Individual and Group Identity in Dreams from My Father” (instructor: Shawn Salvant, assistant professor, English).
The Aetna Writing in the Disciplines awards were established in 2009, part of a trend in recent years at UConn to emphasize writing skills.
“UConn has been paying more attention to W (writing intensive) courses since 2005,” says Tom Deans, director of the UConn Writing Center and associate professor of English. “There are more W courses on campus than freshman English.”
Nearly 100 students applied for the cross-disciplinary awards. The winners– from honorable mentions to first prize winners, who received $200 – were recognized in a ceremony recently, along with winners of Graduate Essay Awards, the Aetna Freshman Writing awards, and:
• The Milton R. Stern American Studies Essay Prize – Jacqueline Goldman, an English major with a minor in Women’s Studies, for “A Widow’s Work is Never Done: The Struggle of American Revolutionary Widows to Claim their Pensions (instructor, English professor and department head Wayne Franklin)
• The Kathleen Gibson McPeek Scholarship – Leanne Ryder, a senior English major, for “Close Reading Paper: Shakespeare’s Sonnet XXIV” (instructor, F. Elizabeth Hart, associate professor of English)