Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Main content start

Up Close with Student Award Winners: March 2024

glittery gold and silver paper stars falling against a blue background

Read-on to hear from the Fall 2023 Lunsford Award and Boothe Award winners! All winners will be honored in ceremonies in May 2024.  As of June 2024, you can read their award-winning essays and watch recordings of their presentations through the Boothe Prize and Lunsford Award websites.

Fall 2023 Boothe Prize Winner: Felicia Yan.

For "'It Was Beautiful and It Was Our School’: Examining the Legacy of Segregated Public School Buildings of North Carolina and the Materiality of Racialized Educational Spaces." Instructors Paula Findlen and Sangeeta Mediratta

Felicia Yan under Stanford arcades.


Felicia writes, “My ESF course 'Rebellious Minds' dove into how people have debated, resisted, and rebelled against definitions of learning across time, revolutionizing what it means to get an education and who gets to access it. The topic of my RBA—how school buildings have materially embodied and transformed racial constructs—drew from class discussions about the roles of educational institutions as both sources of empowerment and tools of oppression, as well as from my personal experiences growing up in North Carolina attending middle and high schools that had been built near the end of the Jim Crow era. Building on questions I had wondered as a student, I sought to answer: how do space and place impact students in historically racially segregated schools? What is the importance of the design and quality of spaces where we learn? Through writing my essay, I was able to critically analyze the place where I grew up and the often overlooked parts of history that shaped it. I especially enjoyed being able to carefully study a facet of the place I call home and bring it to the attention of others; I realized how little I knew about the places I once walked through every day and how empowering it is to understand the history of where you come from. 

"During my research and writing process, I engaged with primary sources like blueprints, photographs, oral histories, and even high school yearbooks in ways I hadn’t before. As I researched, I found that my perspective on the topic evolved dramatically in ways I didn’t expect. There were scholars that challenged my preconceived notions and first-hand accounts that forced me to reconsider my point of view. I came into the class believing that writing a research essay involves finding evidence to back up your beliefs; I came out of it knowing that research requires an open mind and a willingness to engage with ideas that challenge you to reach a more nuanced and well-founded perspective. ESF with Professors Paula and Sangeeta was a wonderful experience where I developed my close reading and rhetorical skills and gained a greater appreciation for the incredible joy and power of writing.”

Fall 2023 Boothe Prize Honorable Mention: George Porteous. 

For "Silhouetting the Past: Politics, Public Memory, and Aesthetic Ambiguity in Kara Walker’s (Mis)representations." Instructor Peter Tokofsky. 

George Porteous headshot.


George Porteous is a prospective History major and creative writing minor from New York, NY. His academic interests include U.S. and world history, politics, and literature. Passionate about journalism and public service, he is a news staff writer for The Stanford Daily and a member of Stanford in Government. A U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, he has acted professionally and interned with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and a public affairs program on PBS.

George writes, “When I sat down to enroll in my PWR 1 course for the fall, Peter Tokofsky’s class, 'Who Speaks for the Past: The Rhetoric of Public Memory,' immediately caught my attention. Focused on historical narratives and the stories that societies use to define themselves, the course closely aligned with my research interests. Despite growing up in New York City, I gained a lifelong fascination with collective memory during childhood visits to see family in New Orleans and Mississippi. These experiences sparked my interest in civil rights. American history, and the enduring legacy of the Civil War.

“My RBA explored the relationship between artist Kara Walker’s works, memory and identity in the American South, and the role of art as a 'counterforce' to politics. While I entered the course knowing my paper would examine Civil War memory, I had some difficulty narrowing the scope of my research. Professor Tokofksy was incredibly supportive in helping me refine my research question to focus on Walker. He also pushed me to engage with texts from aesthetic philosophy, leading me to consider Walker’s ability to unsettle fixed ideological positions, with broader implications for art and politics.

“The RBA allowed me to explore my academic interests in depth while gaining research, visual analysis, and argumentative writing skills. It served as a reminder that writing can help us re-envision and make sense of the world. As the national debate over public memory and history education in the United States rages on, I hope my words can play a small role in expanding the conversation.”

Fall 2023 Lunsford Award Winner: Adri Arquin. 

For "Mining for Truth: Citizen Science, Environmental Justice, and Lithium Mining." Instructor Jennifer Stonaker.

Adri Arquin standing beside brick column.

Adri is an Earth Systems major with interests in energy policy and environmental justice. He is originally from Minnesota, where he gained a love for hiking, camping, and running alongside rivers and lakes. He writes, "Before PWR2 I always believed I was a strong public speaker, however the ability to dissect slides and slide design in the same manner as a paragraph was incredibly eye-opening. This skill will translate in future Stanford classes, my advocacy, and future careers to strongly improve my presentation skills."

Fall 2023 Lunsford Award Winner: Araha Uday. 

For "Colonialism and the Sari." Instructor Shannon Hervey-Lenz.

Araha Uday standing with foliage.


Araha Uday studies economics and math at Stanford, and hopes to pursue a career in economic policy and finance. From the Chicago area, she will be interning in D.C. at the Federal Reserve Board this summer. About her PWR 2 experience she writes, "Outside of class, I play golf, watch movies, and work toward my pilot's license! I think the best way to describe my PWR2 experience is empowering. Shannon, by imbuing class with a balance of structure and creativity, helped me nurture an idea that arose from an Instagram reel into a complex project. The ability to follow and develop a line of reasoning will benefit me in all my future endeavors, from conducting policy research to identifying trends across markets." 

More News Topics