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Up Close with Student Award Winners: December 2023

Bookshelf with Boothe Prize Essay anthologies behind green fern.


Spring 2023 Boothe Prize Winner: Miriam Awan

For “Gender Panic: How the Mainstream News Media Legitimizes Anti-Transgender Political Rhetoric." Instructor: Chris Kamrath. 

Boothe Prize Winner Miriam Awan in front of green bushes.

Miriam Awan is an Earth Systems major from Los Angeles, CA. She is interested in pursuing public policy, especially as it relates to environmental justice and human rights. Outside of classes, she enjoys creative writing, painting, and occasionally reporting for The Stanford Daily.

“Going into my PWR 1 course, “Investigating the News: Journalism, Technology, and the Future,” I knew I wanted to explore ethics in journalism. Reading the news, whether on mainstream news outlets or social media platforms, is how most people learn about current events and communities that they might not belong to. My essays allowed me to interrogate how the news portrays minority groups, from immigrant populations to the LGBTQ community, through the lens of new concepts like media framing and moral panic theory.  

"I was inspired to write my final RBA after noticing a disturbing trend in my news feed of articles featuring problematic portrayals of transgender individuals. At the same time, anti-LGBTQ legislation was being passed at an alarming rate across the United States. Writing my final essay was an opportunity for me to better understand the relationship between news reporting and anti-transgender public policy, while also hopefully contributing to a larger conversation about ethical journalism. My PWR 1 experience helped me feel more confident in my ability to answer my own research questions about policy and has made me more mindful of the power that journalism – and writing – holds.” 

Spring 2023 Boothe Prize Honorable Mention: Zoe Colloredo-Mansfeld 

For “The Transformational Moves of Art: Exploding Landscapes, Geographies, and Histories Toward Liberation.” Instructor: Selby Wynn Schwartz.

Boothe Prize Honorable Mention Winner Zoe Colloredo-Mansfeld in rustic cabin doorframe.

Zoe Colloredo-Mansfeld is an Earth Systems Major from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is interested broadly in climate justice and specifically in ways we can harness deep local knowledge and the power of ecosystem restoration to create livable futures for all beings. At the moment, that means lots of time spent in the Community Kelp Seed Nursery (pictured above) working on ways to make kelp farming more accessible for Native kelp farmers working in their ancestral waters. When not in the classroom you can find her searching for kelp, up a tree, or on the rugby field.

"I consider myself beyond lucky to have wound up in Selby Schwartz PWR 1 class Artivisim: The Power of Art and Activism. Throughout the course I learned so much about writing as a social practice, the creativity we can invite into our essay structures, and how to consider deeply the gift you wish to give your reader. She cultivated an environment of curiosity and care that invited expansive exploration. When it came time to pick our RBA topic I set out with the same ethic in mind. I knew I wanted to work on something related to indigenous sovereignty and the environmental movement. I had recently been delving into the origins of several different modern climate justice organizations. All of them kept pointing back to the same place: the water protector camps of Standing Rock. I wanted to know more. What about this place and period of time was so powerful? How did less than a year of protest slingshot into an international movement. Given the focus of the class, I started with a pretty broad, obvious question: why art? I had no idea where it would take me.

"For my paper I watched movies made by water protectors, sought out books on Lakota histories then better books on Lakota histories when the first ones were unsatisfying. I combed through hundreds of photos of the camps and protests. I read and listened to interviews with elders of the movement. I sought out scholarship on visual sovereignty, on indigenous performance art, on critical geography, on Lakota ways of knowing. Then came the hard part. I had grown attached to these stories and ideas. I didn’t want to let any of them go. Fitting them into a logical outline without sacrificing the expansiveness of the worlds art made possible was a challenge. I wrote one outline, started drafting, and went through a round of peer edit. That one didn’t work. I wrote another outline, tried to talk it out with anyone who would listen, and that still didn’t quite work. Finally, 36 hours before the essay was due, I opened a blank document, took a deep breath, and tried one more time to put down a functional structure to work from. Who knows what I would have written with more time (perhaps less procrastination!) and another few drafts. What I do know is I am proud of the constant searching I did to answer my central question to the best of my ability and inspired by the ideas that grew from my sources on the paper in front of me. I left the class with an appreciation for thoughtful, flexible research that resists simple answers and an understanding of how the process of thinking through writing can itself be a powerful teacher."

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