In this issue, we’re pleased to feature the winners of the Boothe Prize for Excellence in First-Year Writing from Spring 2020. Both students wrote award-winning essays during the first months of the pandemic, as students and instructors navigated the unexpected shift to online learning – making the quality of their essays even more impressive. We hope to honor the students at an Award Ceremony this May, whether in-person or online.
Ciara Locker wrote her award-winning essay, “Building Biosecurity: Examining the Rhetoric of Bioterrorism in Post 9/11 America“, for Mutallip Anwar’s class, “The Power of Words: The Rhetoric of Social and Technological Change.” Ciara is originally from Owasso, Oklahoma and is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. An International Relations major, Ciara is minoring in Human Biology with a concentration in epidemiology. Her primary research interest is in global biosecurity and emerging infectious diseases, an interest which clearly informed her PWR project. In fact, Mutallip notes that Ciara’s decision to focus on an issue related to her intended academic focus was a key factor in setting her up to create such an impressive essay:
Ciara's project is a great example of what happens when students view writing assignments in PWR as opportunities to explore an issue they deeply care about and share their findings with a wider audience. She fully immersed herself into researching a topic of great interest to her, and the result was a compelling essay examining the relationship between rhetoric and bioterrorism.
Outside of class, Ciara is a member of the Stanford American Indian Organization, as well as the Stanford Alternative Protein Project.
Abigail Neely won a Boothe Honorable Mention for her essay, “The Pedagogy of Values: The Role of Culture and Experience in Education Inequity.” Abigail wrote her essay for Lisa Swan’s PWR 1 class, “Beyond the Achievement Gap: Writing about Education.” An intended double-major in psychology and international relations, Abigail is interested in “how an understanding of human behavior and intergroup dynamics can create a more equitable and just legal system and foster collaborative diplomatic solutions to world problems.”
Abigal grounded her work on this project not only in educational theory, but also in her own academic experience. As her instuctor, notes,
In a quarter replete with disruptions, Abi fully embraced research as inquiry. She followed citation trails that took her from experiential learning to educational theorists Martin Haberman, Paulo Freire, and John Dewey. Her essay traces her research journey all the while grounding it in her own experiences as a Vietnamese-American student who attended a public magnet school in New York City.
Abigal's ability to integrate her personal experience with a strong engagement with the scholarly conversation contributes considerably to the strength of this essay. In reflecting on her experience in PWR 1, Abigal attributes much of her growth as a writer to learning to re-shape her essay and argument based on feedback:
Lisa and my peer reviewers constantly pushed me to challenge the conventions of persuasive writing I was accustomed to. The result was an essay that felt more organic and honest than anything I had written before, even though it was quite different from the essay I originally had in mind. I hope to approach all future endeavors with the same adaptability.
Although Abigail is originally from the east coast, she loves to travel and in addition to exploring California through camping and hiking, she has spent time teaching in Vietnam, researching women’s political representation in India, and observing the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands.