Writing isn’t just for the English majors.
This year’s First Year Writing Award (FYWA) ceremony recognized six out of the 1,600 freshman who completed English 080 or 111 this academic year for exemplary writing.
Each person was awarded a cash prize and certificate, and publication in a campus book, which also includes the Tyner Award winners.
“We encouraged them to work for excellence and it is great to showcase that,” said Brad Herzog, FYWA coordinator.
Herzog, coordinator of the program for two years, said the awards banquet is one of his favorite parts of the job, as is getting to know faculty members and students.
“This banquet celebrates them and their moment,” Herzog said. “It also helps that (students) have their family’s support.”
Herzog said that the students learn from the research and have accomplished a lot.
Brionna Varner, business freshman, was a regular 4-H participant in high school. Varner was awarded first place in the English 080 category for “The Little Old Barn,” an essay inspired by her family’s country home.
Varner said that writing now means more. She said that Christina Montgomery, her English 080 instructor, helped her love writing and make her papers more professional.
“I never thought I would win,” she said. “It makes me want to continue writing.”
Airyelle Riley, criminal justice freshman, likes to write poetry and hopes to work for the FBI after she graduates. She is also a regular Red Cross volunteer. Riley was awarded second place in the English 080 category for her piece, “Summer of 2010,” inspired by the final summer of her grandfather’s life.
Alyssa Plazinich, health science freshman, was awarded third place in the English 080 category for her essay, “To Play or Not to Play.” The judges said the essay, inspired from Plazinich’s high school basketball experience, shared the feeling of self-doubt and took pains to show the reader what it feels like.
This year’s English 080 award judges included Suzanne Aiken, Elaine Hunyadi, Tim Kenyon, Gillan Markey and Christina Montogomery.
The English 111 award judges included Emily Beard, Sherrin Frances, Chris Giroux and Brad Herzog.
Kefira W. Zink, history freshman, has returned to school after 10 years and six children. Zink was awarded first place in the English 111 category for her essay, “Why Are You Offended by My Baby’s Lunch?” which examines the stigmas of breast feeding.
“I love writing,” Zink said. “It’s hard to explain.”
Zink said that she writes to communicate and is considering changing her major to creative writing.
“I write to prove that I can do this after 10 years,” she said.
Zink said her paper was the product of over 200 pages of research and the help of instructor, Jason Kahler.
“In (his) class I found my voice,” she said. “I can write how I feel, and think it might mean something.”
Ashli Maser, pre-dentistry freshman, has worked as a dental assistant and is a recipient of the SVSU Presidential scholarship. Maser was awarded second place in the English 111 category for her essay, “Something to Sink Your Teeth Into.”
Clare Christe, psychology freshman, was awarded third place in the English 111 category for her essay, “The Right to Write.”
Allyson Poag, nursing freshman, was awarded fourth place for her essay, “Nuclear Power: Is it Worth the Cost?”
Poag said her English 111 class, taught by Diane Boehm, influenced her to start reading more academic articles and helped her increase her vocabulary.
“I definitely learned a lot about revising and taking feedback into account,” Poag said.
She said that winning isn’t easy.
“You have to really want it,” she said. “But if you want it you can do it.”