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Undergraduate Writing Awards 2023

Virginia Rucker Walter Scholarship   

This award acknowledges an outstanding English major. It is named for Virginia Rucker Walter, who was an undergraduate at UGA in the 1980s. Virginia Walter was killed by a drunk driver before she was able to graduate, but her family presents this prize in honor of her memory and in celebration of her love of literature.  

Meredith EgetWinner: Meredith Eget  

Meredith is an undergraduate senior with majors in English, Spanish, and Women's Studies, a minor in Latin American & Caribbean Studies, and an area of emphasis in Creative Writing. Her research investigates the power of literature—in forms both traditional and unconventional—to inhibit and enact social change with a focus in Latin American and feminist contexts. She will begin earning her PhD in English at the University of Miami this fall. In addition to writing, she adores singing, baking cakes, weightlifting, and completing her daily crossword puzzle.

Joshua David Brown Memorial Scholarship   

Every year, this scholarship is awarded to an outstanding rising junior in English. Joshua Brown’s father writes, “Joshua loved the University of Georgia and the English Department. He considered it a privilege to study under the incredible professors there.  It is the Brown family's hope that the award will continue to make it possible for students to pursue their dreams in writing and expression.” 

Winner: Anya Ricketson

Anya RicketsonAnya is an English Major at the University of Georgia. She transferred to UGA from Georgia College and State University in Spring of 2021. She is currently the podcast host and producer for Red Penned, the UGA Writing Intensive Program Podcast. After graduation she plans on working in the Publishing and Editing Industry. Outside of academics, she enjoys Dungeons & Dragons, birdwatching, and storytelling in all its forms.

Elizabeth A. Kraft Award

This award provides a monetary award for undergraduates or masters students to support research within the department, focusing on the period of 1640 to 1832. When creating this award, Dr. Kraft says, “I want students to think imaginatively about the eighteenth century, which is, after all, the time period during which both the University of Georgia and the United States of America were born.” 

Winner: Erin O’Keefe

Erin O'KeefeErin is a third-year undergraduate dance and English double major from Kennesaw, Georgia. Erin’s favorite dance style is classical ballet; she specifically enjoys performing and watching ballets of the Romantic era, such as Giselle. Erin also dances in the contemporary modern style and was honored to perform with the Martha Graham Dance Company at the UGA Fine Arts Theatre this past February. Erin is passionate about creative writing and her short stories and poems have been published in The Chapel Bell, a UGA publication that she is now Content Editor for. Currently, Erin feels captivated by her research on the eighteenth-century origins of the natural and poetic “sublime”. She recently received the Honorable Mention award in the 2023 UGA Libraries Undergraduate Research Awards for her research paper, “The Sentimental Side of Mary Wollstonecraft: Her Painful, Pleasurable, and Eternal Sublime”, with Dr. Diamond as her faculty mentor. Erin is fascinated by the interdisciplinary capabilities of dance and English; she sees movement in everything she reads and writes and views dance as a universal language that allows stories to be told through movement alone. To Erin, both dance and literature contain within them one goal: passionate artistic expression.

Undergraduate Essay Prizes   

The Undergraduate Essay Prizes are supported by the Robert E. Park Memorial Fund.

Best Essay Highlighting Primary Materials

Winner: Brennan Murphy for the essay “The Use of Narrative Layers in Persepolis

Brennan MurphyBrennan is a 3rd year English major, Japanese Minor at the University of Georgia. Through his literature classes, he has cultivated a desire to move forward in scholarship and break into the field of comic studies—an option he did not think was plausible upon entering college. Outside of his courses and the manga section of Barnes and Noble, he keeps himself busy by playing drums in local bands around Athens. 

Honorable Mention: Jason Hawkins for “Form/Audience”

Jason HawkinsJason is a third-year English major with a minor in Japanese Language and Literature. He loves reading and studying short fiction and twentieth-century poetry.

Best Essay Making Significant Use of Secondary Materials

Winner: Ruth Payne for “Exploring the Consequences of Male Emotional Repression in the Victorian Period”

Ruth PayneRuth is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a minor in English with the Honors College. While at UGA, Ruth has conducted research with CURO, written for the Georgia Political Review, participated in the Washington Semester Program, and served as a peer tutor with the Terry Analytics Lab. After graduation, Ruth will join the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a Junior Stanley Surrey Research Fellow.

Honorable Mention: Andrew East for “Wallace Stevens’ Phantasmagoria”

Andrew EastAndrew is a fourth-year Art History student with a minor in English and a certificate in Museum Studies. For them, studying Wallace Stevens feels like a brain freeze, in the spirit of his poem “The Emperor of Ice Cream.” Apart from classes and their work at the Georgia Museum, Andrew writes poetry part-time and has been published in Ginkgo magazine.

Digital Humanities Prize   

The Digital Humanities Prize is awarded to an outstanding student project at the intersection of English studies and electronic technologies. It is supported by the Robert E. Park Memorial Fund.

Winner: Alexander Hoefer for “ibu, a portrait of a mother”

Alex HoeferI'm a Sabahan-American filmmaker and writer majoring in Entertainment & Media Studies and English. I care deeply about fashion, martial arts cinema, and the intersection of videographic arts and multicultural conversation. My most recently completed film, "Auction Block, Stumbling Stone," is a documentary funded by the SPARK Creative Writing Fellowship, and my recent fashion martial arts drama short films are set to screen at UGA's Backlight Film Festival. When I am not producing or writing movies, I enjoy drawing, practicing martial arts, and dancing, with special interests in Latin styles like Argentine Tango.

Anita Morrison Thomas Essay Award 

Named in honor of English alumna Anita Morrison Thomas, this fund supports an award to the student author of the best essay devoted to a culturally diverse and/or female author. 

Awarded to Tyler Henderson for “The Listening Body: An Audition of King’s Vibrato” and Katherine Kellam for “Between the Revolution and the Deep Blue Sea: Stages of Despair in ‘Children of the Sea’”

Katie KellamKatie Kellam is a fourth-year student from Canton, Georgia and will be graduating this May with a double degree in English and Linguistics. During her time at UGA, Katie has also been published in Stillpoint literary magazine and the Red & Black. Outside of classes, Katie is a member of UGA's club sailing team and is an avid gardener. She has worked as a student research assistant to Dr. Zhang in the Horticulture department for most of her time in college, propagating and caring for ornamental trees and shrubs. This summer, Katie will be pursuing a communications internship in Montreal, Canada.

Prigge Family Scholarship

William Prigge (AB/MA English, 2014) enjoyed many academic successes in the English Department and now lives in New York, pursuing his dream in the publishing industry. The purpose of the Prigge Family Scholarship Endowment Fund, endowed by his parents Bill and Melissa Prigge, is to provide scholarship support for students in the Department of English who demonstrate excellence in literary studies.   

Winner: Frankie Avalos

Frankie AvalosFrankie Avalos is a rising senior at UGA studying English. They hope to continue their studies in graduate school with an emphasis on the horror genre through the years through a queer lens. Their dream job is being able to continue their studies post graduate school and teach classes on the horror novel, gothic literature, or elegiac poetry. 

The H. Grady Hutcherson Memorial Scholarship   

H. Grady Hutcherson, a Double Dawg (BSED Science Education, 1949; MA English, 1951), began teaching in Park Hall in 1951 and retired in 1991. He and Mary Hutcherson (AB English, 1951) were married in 1955 and had two sons, both of whom attended UGA. Grady died in 1996, and Mary decided to honor her late husband’s work by establishing the H. Grady Hutcherson Memorial Scholarship in English.

Awarded to Jordyn FaucetteLauren Girod and Abigail Bales

Lauren GirodLauren Girod is a rising Senior undergraduate in English, with a focus in Creative Writing for Fiction and Poetry. Their work has been published in UGA’s Stillpoint Literary magazine and is pending print with Outrageous Fortune and HINDSIGHT. After graduation, they will be pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and will begin curation of an anthology for publication.

Abigail BalesAbigail Bales is a sophomore majoring in English and double minoring in Studio Art and American Sign Language. She is also a student assistant to Dr. Katie Ireland, the interim head of UGA’s DigiLab, and she will be spending this fall semester at UGA at Oxford. Abigail’s future career goal is to work in book publishing as an editor and own a bookstore café.


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