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Up Close with Student Award Winners: January 2018

Boothe Prize booklets

The students spotlighted in this issue are the winners of the Spring 2017 Boothe Prizes. They will be honored in person in a ceremony in May 2018.

Alexis Lefft: Boothe Prize Winner (Spring 2017)

Alexis Lefft

Alexis received the Spring 2017 Boothe Prize for her essay, "'If Black Lives Matter, They Deserve to Be in Paintings': Kehinde Wiley's Lamentation as Ontological Resurrection."  Her project grows out of her broader academic interests; Alexis plans to pursue a double major in African and African-American Studies and Religious Studies.  She is also interested in Education Studies, Anthropology, and Creative Writing.  She spends much of her time outside the classroom working at the East Palo Alto Stanford Academy (through a Haas Center program), where she teaches 8th grade English on Saturdays.  She also previously taught 8th grade English during the 2017 EPASA summer program.

Alexis wrote her award-winning essay for Jamie O'Keeffe's PWR 1 class, "Join the #LoveArmy: The Rhetoric of Radical Compassion."  When asked about her experience in PWR and how her work on her project extended beyond her PWR 1 section, Alexis writes, "My experience in PWR1 was really important for me in that it allowed something that is of deep meaning to me, the Black Southern Church, to become a part of my everyday intellectual life. Where before I was hesitant to declare Religious Studies, because I didn’t know if I would see my experiences reflected, I now feel confident that I can find a place for myself there."

Jamie's words also speak to the power of Alexis's work: "It was a joy to work with Alexis. She knew early in the quarter that she wanted to analyze Kehinde Wiley's work. And she conducted her research with clarity and precision. In the end, she accomplished on the page what Wiley does on canvas. You cannot engage with the work without letting it change you."

Alexis's essay will be available online in May 2018.

Jasmine Liu: Boothe Prize Honorable Mention (Spring 2017)

Jasmine Liu

Jasmine was awarded the Boothe Prize Honorable Mention for her essay, "From E Pluribus Unum to E Pluribus Plures: Examining Assimilationist and Nationalist Narratives in American History Textbooks," which she wrote for John Peterson's PWR 1 class, "The Rhetoric of Liberal Arts Education."  Although she hasn't declared her major yet, she is tentatively interested in pursuing a double major in Mathematical and Computational Science and Anthropology.  When asked about her academic interests, she writes, "[They] are quite broad and constantly evolving, but one point of consistency is that I enjoy analyzing cultural assumptions that are taken for granted" -- a practice she put to good use in her award-winning essay. Originally from Santa Clara, CA, she has lived in the Bay Area her entire life.  In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, discovering new artists, and reading.

John Peterson provides this reflection on Jasmin's work on this award-winning project:

Jasmine’s process was exciting to watch because she made so many discoveries at each stage. She started with intense research into the ways history is taught in the schools and developed a clear understanding of the contentious debate over how and what students should learn. Her curiosity brought her quickly to this important research, and so she sought out increasingly complex scholarship. Even though she found deep and complicated ideas early in the process, during her Texts-in-Conversation project, she accomplished one of the most important objectives of the assignment: She discovered and invented new ways of formulating her topic. The TiC gave her new direction and purpose; as she writes, she was now exploring the work of “black writers who tried to reclaim stories that had been appropriated by whites for centuries…[she decided] to focus on what ties together both histories of minority groups that are included in textbooks as well as dominant narratives supporting nationalistic motives.” The power in her final Research-Based Argument derives from this renewed sense of focus and purpose. This re-invention is an excellent example of how the very best researchers take the time to return to their research over and over again, pushing themselves to go beyond reinforcing their initial discoveries, and to venture into the story behind the story. 

When asked to reflect on her PWR 1 experience, Jasmin had this to say: "PWR 1 was a great opportunity for me to craft a research paper on a topic that I was interested in exploring further, with the support of my PWR professor. My favorite thing about my PWR class was the space it gave me to research a topic in-depth and write a paper I was really passionate about and proud of."

Jasmine's essay will be available online in May 2018.

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