Up Close with Student Award Winners: May 2017
In this issue, we're spotlighting four student award winners: the winners of the Winter 2017 Boothe Prizes and the Winter 2017 Lunsford Awards. These students were honored in person at ceremonies earlier this month.
Nicholas Branigan: Boothe Prize Winner (Winter 2017)
A prospective economics major, Nicholas comments that he is drawn to that discipline because he "appreciates how the subject supplies an empirical framework for thinking about the world and addressing its most pressing problems". Originally from Oak Park, California, he is spending his summer conducting research in economics at Stanford and at Bruegel, a think tank in Brussels.
He won the Boothe Prize for his essay, "Michelle K. Lee, Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office, Petitioner v. Simon Shiao Team," which was written in the form of a "student justice decision" for Paul Bator's PWR 1, Supreme Court Rhetoric. Bator summarizes the strengthens of Nicholas's essay as follows: "Nicholas drives home his claims with coherent reasoning, relevant contemporary analogies, historical attaches, and a restrained yet seemingly foreordained conclusion."
When asked to reflect on his experience in PWR, Nicholas wrote, "The craft of writing, which PWR develops, is meaningfully related to the art of thinking. Disciplined writers are disciplined thinkers; an ability to write well is inseparable from success in any intellectual discipline."
Veronica Kim: Boothe Prize, Honorable Mention (Winter 2017)
A freshman from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Veronica wrote her prize-winning essay while enrolled in Brian Kim's PWR 1, The Rhetoric of Food. While she's currently unsure what major she'll pursue, she thinks it likely she'll minor in computer science and is planning to spend the summer coding in C++ at Aqueti in Durham, NC, a company that develops extremely high-resolution imaging technologies for security and defense purposes. Her main interests beyond coding are writing, foreign languages, and history. She reflects, "I think words are one of the most important forms of self-expression and believe wholly in the power of stories to bring meaning and purpose to life. I am fascinated by the way that language can shape culture, people, and society. Although I don’t know what I want to do with my future, I know it will involve traveling, writing, and meeting as many people as I can."
In his introduction to Veronica's essay, Brian Kim notes the power of her essay in not only describing the food video phenomenon, but also in laying the foundation for improvements on this genre: "While the food video has done much in a short time to revolutionize the way we relate to what we eat and how we make it, Veronica remains clear-eyed in her vision for what remains to be done: now that these videos have woven themselves into the fabric of our food culture, [their next challenge is] to promote healthier recipes."
Isabelle Morris: Lunsford Award Winner (Winter 2017)
Originally from Tampa, Florida, Isabelle is a psych major who plans to pursue a Ph.D. and go into research; more specifically, she intends to study language development in atypical language learning communities, such as the Deaf and Autistic communities. Currently, she is working in the Social Learning Lab as a research assistant.
Isabelle completed her project while enrolled in John Peterson's PWR 1 class, "How I Got Schooled: The Rhetoric of Literacy and Education," Peterson offered this introduction to Isabelle's work at the Lunsford Award ceremony in mid-May:
In our class, “How I Got Schooled: The Rhetoric of Literacy and Education,” one option is for the researchers to narrativize their research for their audiences. This means telling the story of the research, presenting it like a story.
Isabelle told the story of “The Horse Boy,” an Autistic* boy named Rowan who loved horses and could learn better when he was around horses. When Rowan’s father, Rupert, realized this, they worked together to develop a system of education that worked with Rowan’s strengths and needs. Isabelle explained how researchers have been able to learn from the Horse Boy method and extend this method to include other ways educational environments could be designed for Autistics. Isabelle argued that educators can listen to their students who can help guide them, pointing out that students with special needs can be experts in designing their own educations.
In a sense, Isabelle was telling her own story too, because she also is an Autistic. She integrated into her learning and research her own identity and her own journeys in special education. She used her findings to educate the class. She showed us the remarkable ways that self-exploration can empower a scholar to tap into her insights, investigate the most complex of human issues, and bring her understanding to the world.
Isabelle's own reflections on her project and her experience in PWR give insight into what made her work so powerful and transformative: "I was convinced from the first time I heard of PWR 2 that I was going to hate this class. I had never liked public speaking before. The most valuable thing I learned in PWR 2 was how to adapt things to work for me as an Autistic. Having the support of my professor and being given the go-ahead to present as an Autistic, I believe, is what allowed me to be successful. I can't say that I love public speaking yet, but I gained a lot of confidence in my ability to present my research to people, a skill I will need in my career."
Sophia Sterling-Angus: Lunsford Award Winner (Winter 2017)
A major in Economics and Fine Arts originally from Pittsburgh, Sophia is interested in economic research targeted at reducing income inequality. In fact, she'll be pursuing that interest in the next few months through a summer internship for USAFacts. Sophia is also passionate about entrepreneurship and design, and she serves on the executive board of Stanford Women in Business. Her hope is to run her own business one day.
For her Lunsford-award-winning presentation, Sophia focused on a different topic: women in comedy. Her instructor, Mary Stroud, had this to say about her presentation, entitled "Female Trainwrecks": "Sophia casts the well-documented limitations on women in comedy in an entirely different light. Her argument is compelling because instead of criticizing these limitations, she attempts to reveal some of the ways that women themselves contribute to and use female humor tropes to their advantage, as a means of connecting and bonding with other women. She asks us to appreciate this reality, but also challenges us to imagine new ways of expanding the repertoire of female humor." You can view her presentation here.
When asked to reflect on her experience in PWR, Sophia wrote: "The PWR program redefines what it means write professionally. It gives Stanford students a space to develop a unique voice and style that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives."