Aetna Honors Student Writers

By Christine Buckley

The Aetna Chair of Writing in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences English department celebrated outstanding UConn student writers with an awards ceremony and a reception on Oct. 25. The 23rd Aetna Prize Night recognized excellent academic writing from undergraduates across all disciplines, graduate students in English and teachers involved with the Connecticut Writing Project.

Professor Martha Cutter gave the keynote address, “Writing for Your Life; Or How a Dirty, Stinking, Smoking Jew Finally Came Out,” in which she spoke about how learning to keep a journal during her youth was what eventually freed her from constant bullying by her classmates.

The evening, she said, was a celebration of the importance of inspired writing and what it can do to free people from life restrictions.

The Aetna Writing in the Disciplines Awards recognized academic writing by undergraduate students across the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and professional schools. This year, four winners received a cash prize from the Aetna Chair of Writing Endowment.

Also awarded were the Katheleen Gibson McPeek Scholarship, which honors an undergraduate English major, and the Aetna Freshman Writing Prize, which awards excellent non-fiction composed in a UConn Freshman English class.

The essays will be published online in Essay Connections, a collection that features Freshman English prize essays and other student works.

The undergraduate winners read from their works at the ceremony. The winners included:

·      Daniel Allie, a junior English major, received the Katheleen Gibson McPeek Scholarship for his essay on the poetry of Charles Olson.

·      Antonio Rivera, a student at the Waterbury campus, won the Aetna Freshman Writing Prize for his essay “The Silent Treatment: Have We All Lost Our Voice?” Adviser: Samuel Robinson, Writing Center Coordinator.

·      Rebecca D’Angeloa junior history and anthropology major, was co-winner of the humanities discipline award for her essay on the perceptions of seamen at the turn of the 19th century. Adviser: Professor Matthew McKenzie, History, Avery Point Campus.

·      Nathan Fletcher, a sophomore music major, was also co-winner of the prize in the humanities for his essay on religious iconography in Enrique Chagoya’s painting, “Return of the Macrobiotic Cannibal.” Adviser: Robin Greeley and Michael Orwicz, Art History.

·      Winner of the social sciences discipline award was Stephen Petkis, a junior political science major, for his paper critiquing the fair trade movement and its relationship to human rights. Adviser: Shareen Hertel, Political Science.

·      Taylor Meltzer, a senior biological sciences major, won the science and engineering award for her paper n the ethics of genetically modified foods. Adviser: Theodore Taigen, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

The event was sponsored by the Aetna Chair of Writing, the Creative Writing Program and the Freshman English Program. The Aetna Chair of Writing was established in 1986 with a $1 million-dollar endowment, which includes $500,000 from the Aetna Foundation and matching funds from the State Department of Higher Education.

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