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First-Year Writing Awards 2023

Donald E. Barnett Awards   

Each year, the English Department recognizes excellent writing in English 1101 and 1102 by presenting two Barnett Essay Awards. Named in honor of Donald E. Barnett, who directed the Freshman English Program for many years, the awards consist of cash prizes and publication of the winning essays in the First-Year Writing Guidebook. These awards are supported by the English Department Fund.

For English 1101

Will SumnerWill Sumner for “Russia’s Third Reich”

I am a first year International Affairs major from Canton, Georgia. My love for writing bloomed under the guidance of my mother, who spent much of her free time writing. I further developed my affinity for writing in Genevieve Guzmán’s English 1101 class in my first semester at University of Georgia. I’m also a sprinter and middle-distance runner on the UGA track and field team and have received two all-American honors during the 2023 indoor season. My other passions include playing the piano, reading, and biking. I hope to pursue a professional running career, and then go into foreign aid after my expected 2026 graduation.

Will was nominated by Genevieve Guzman: "As a former student of Slavic literature, I was delighted to receive Will’s research paper on Russian irredentism, (a word I had to look up!) and the vainglorious project of Putin’s Russo-Ukrainian War. Just the introduction with its bold thesis had me whooping in agreement and anticipation. Will proceeds to weave scholarly sources and news media into a sophisticated narrative of the Russian Empire through the centuries to show how previous occupation, expansion, and territorial loss set the stage for Putin’s irredentist rhetoric today. More than for its depth and credibility, I nominated Will’s essay for the Barnett Award for its remarkable maturity of voice, as urgent and impassioned as any investigative journalist’s. Democracy speaks through Will Sumner in this eloquent argument. Congratulations, Will!"

For English 1102

Torin SmithTorin Smith for “Communicating Emotion: Identity Formation in Native Guard and The Things They Carried”

I am a second-year journalism student from Buford, Georgia. I loved writing throughout high school, and that combined with my passion for sports led me to UGA to study journalism and sports media. On campus, I work with the UGA Ice Dawgs hockey club, running their YouTube channel and doing play-by-play commentary during games. In addition to studying sports media and journalism, I also am a Double Dawg planning to earn an MA in Emerging Media. My passions outside of school include watching and playing sports, discovering new music and spending time with family and friends.

Torin was nominated by Nathan Camp: "Any garment woven as tightly as Torin's essay would shed water. It attempts an intellectual task well beyond what I normally see from my 1102 students, teasing out complex theoretical concepts about the role of narrativization in the formation of new identities for individuals recovering from trauma, and then applying those concepts to a comparative analysis of two book-length literary works (in different genres for added degree of difficulty). Does that sound like a lot for six pages? That's a lot for six pages! Had he pulled off a pretty good version of the task, I would have been impressed. I was well beyond impressed. The finished essay weaves in 43 direct quotations -- from psychological theory, secondary criticism of his texts, and of course from the texts themselves -- without breaking stride. Most importantly and most impressively, the essay leaves me with a better understanding of both O'Brien's The Things They Carried (which we didn't read for class, by the way) and Trethewey's Native Guard."


Michael G. Moran e-Portfolio Awards   

Beginning in 2007, the English Department began recognizing the excellent work being done in ePortfolios for English 1101 and 1102 by presenting the portfolio awards. Named in honor of Michael G. Moran, a former director of FYW who did much to shape and improve the program and who has continued to support it by serving loyally on the First-Year Writing Committee, these awards also consist of cash prizes and publication of selected exhibits from the winning ePortfolios in the First-Year Writing Guide. These awards are supported by the English Department Fund

For English 1101

sky smithsky smith

Sky is a first-year student from Tyrone, Georgia who is currently Undecided. She has always fancied writing as a creative outlet, especially songwriting, and has been inspired by Taylor Swift’s lyrics for as long as she can remember. She is currently a member of The Agency and hopes to become involved in more fine arts clubs and organizations on campus. Her passions include traveling, going to concerts, cooking, trying new restaurants, music analysis, and critiquing matcha lattes.

sky was nominated by Phillip Brown: "sky smith’s portfolio is an accomplished work that showcases a high degree of creativity and rhetorical skill. Through the metaphors of dance and music, sky illuminates the give-and-take nature of the writing process—the discipline it requires and the opportunities it offers for self-expression. sky uses creative design elements to compliment her exhibits, taking the reader further into her writing and peer review processes, and leaving the reader with a show stopping wildcard exhibit. As a whole, sky’s work is endlessly engaging, and exemplifies the writing process in both content and form."

For English 1102

Ishika MehtaIshika Mehta

Ishika is an Advertising major with a double minor in Communications and Korean language, here at the University of Georgia. Ishika's longstanding fondness for the arts finds its expression through diverse avenues that traverse visual, performance, as well as language arts. As an Indian Classical dancer with over 12 years of rigorous formal training, she constantly looks for ways to integrate her passion for dance with her work at school. To Ishika, her portfolio was one such opportunity to proudly share the beauty of Kathak and to showcase her enduring love for the art form with students and staff at the University of Georgia. Whether it be on stage or on paper, she strives to produce work that resonates with her audience and speaks to the heart. Ishika continues to look for opportunities that will allow her to grow as a student and individual. She credits much of her success and motivation to her parents, who have been consistently supportive and enthusiastic throughout her academic career, as well as her Kathak Guru, Kumud Savla, who brought her to this point in her dance journey.

Ishika was nominated by Sarah Turula: "Ishika’s central idea is that all art is, in some sense, a form of “storytelling.” What is so impressive about her ePortfolio is that she uses so many different media to convey this theme. These exhibits contain video, dance, essay-writing – even clothing and jewelry – and they all combine to tell one many-faceted story about who Ishika is: a writer, a performer, a human, a storyteller."

Honorable Mention For English 1102

Shelby WilliamsShelby Williams

Shelby Williams (she/her) is a second-year student currently pursuing her undergraduate degree with a double major in both Psychology (Neuroscience emphasis) and English at The University of Georgia. After obtaining her degree, she plans to earn her Ph.D. in Psychology and work as a developmental psychologist or therapist. Additionally, she would like to pursue academic research, write, and self-publish some of her own works and content ranging from poetry, prose, and beyond. You can currently find some of her poetry in UGA's own Stillpoint Literary Magazine's 54th Edition. She also highlights her creative reflections with her peers and the public through an Instagram account she created under the handle @odetoprose. When not writing, she also enjoys playing flute, painting, and expressing herself artistically through her other passion - dance - with the Filipino Student Association and Pamoja Dance Company. Expressing herself through avenues such as writing and dance brings her an immense sense of contentment and provides balance and cathartic release from the rigor of academic studies.

Shelby was nominated by Liz Hammock: "As a student, Shelby demonstrates a most varied sense in ideas, subjects, and observational, critical thinking about the world around her. She relishes writing about culture and art with a kind of flair and style I don’t see often. Embracing quirk, charm, and directness, Shelby manages to engage her readers with unexpected turns of her ideas. I think it’s in her sense of owning her writing and looking to create space for fun in the way we read and discern art forms. She has both the capacity of the critic and that of the roving writer, comfortable in both modes. She is also quite capable in representing that, in conveying her process in either mode."

Excellence in Teaching Award

Savannah JensenEnglish Department Winner: Savannah Jensen 

The Center for Teaching and Learning administers the Excellence in Teaching Award (ETA), sponsored by the Graduate School. This highly competitive award recognizes UGA graduate students who have demonstrated superior teaching skills and contributed to teaching beyond their own classroom responsibilities. The Excellence in Teaching Award is the top teaching award for graduate students at UGA.

Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards  

English Department Winners: Zachary Anderson, Johanna Bailie, Megan N. Fontenot, Ruth Myers, and Morgan Richardson Dietz.

The Center for Teaching and Learning administers the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Instruction. This award recognizes the top ten-percent of teaching assistants demonstrating superior teaching skills while serving in the classroom or laboratory.  

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