Department of Writing and Rhetoric

O'Dowd Hall, Room 378
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-2746
fax: (248) 370-2748

Group of students holding awards

Writing Excellence Awards


Oakland University regards writing as an essential part of a quality education and seeks to identify and honor excellent student writers from disciplines across campus. The Writing Excellence Awards is usually open to all registered undergraduate students who have written papers for courses taken during the Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall semesters.

Papers are accepted in seven categories. See the tabs below for more information on the categories.

Prizes will include $100 for first place, $75 for second place, and $50 for third place in each category; in the event that a multi-authored work wins, prize money will be split among the collaborators. Students may make multiple submissions but only one entry per category. The judges will allocate only one award per student, and they reserve the right not to designate three winners in each category if the submissions do not merit awards. 

Due to COVID-19, we are postponing the 2021 awards for this year. If you have already submitted, your entries will be considered for next year's awards, should those awards go forward. Thank you for your interest.
First Year Writing
(WRT 1020, 1050, 1060)
  • Analytical Essay -- Outstanding analysis essays written for WRT 1020, 1050, or 1060. Submissions include career investigation, evaluations, rhetorical analysis, ethnographies, and case studies.

  • Research Essay --  Outstanding research essays written for WRT 1060 that focus on developing new knowledge, making new meaning, synthesizing secondary (and possibly primary) sources effectively, and documenting appropriately in APA format.
Upper-Level WRT
or Writing Intensive
  • Upper-Level Research Essay -- Outstanding formal research essay written for any upper-division WRT or general education writing intensive course. Essays focus on developing new knowledge, synthesizing secondary (and possibly primary) sources effectively, and documenting appropriately.
  • Creative Nonfiction -- Outstanding nonfiction essays that focus on personal expression of writing (with possible secondary sources) written for upper-division WRT or writing intensive general education courses.
  • Professional Writing --  Outstanding writing for any upper-division professional, technical, or business writing course. Projects may include (but are not limited to): proposals, informative, analytical reports, brochures, job application materials, fundraising, and/or other persuasive messages.  Essays may include primary and/or secondary research.

  • Multimedia Project -- Outstanding multimedia projects composed for any WRT course or writing intensive general education course.  Projects may be any combination of text, graphics, audio, and video, but the focus is on elements other than text.
  • Reflective Essay --  Outstanding reflective essay from any WRT course or writing intensive general education course.  Entries should incorporate evidence-based discussion of the stages of the writing process using rhetorical knowledge to reflectively analyze writing techniques.  


2015 Writing Excellence Award Winners
2013 Writing Excellence Award Winners
2011 Writing Excellence Award Winners 

2010 and Prior Writing Excellence Award Winning Essays
"A Look Inside: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints"
By Nicholas Kristock, Ashley Maue and Mike Szymula
Instructor: Lori Ostergaard

Excerpt: Together these three researchers conducted an extensive ethnographic study of a local congregation of Mormons. Mike, Nick, and Ashley researched the history and hierarchy of the church, studied the services, and interviewed church members and the area bishop. They created a video analysis of the church that offers a rich blend of researcher reflections, first person interviews, and secondary research about what it means to worship with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

"African-American Females and Beauty: Divided by Complexion"
By Taryn Dover
Instructor: Benjamin Bennet-Carpenter

Excerpt: Taryn Dover created a website called “Beauty and the African American Woman: Assimilating into American Society.” Taryn’s site employs a web presentation tool called Prezi, which allows for an overview of all of her text and image frames that are detail points within an overall “canvas.” The viewer may focus on details of the presentation, following either a linear or non-linear pattern to relate each frame of information to the other. This blog is based on a fully researched and documented paper. In both blog and paper, through images and words, Taryn argues that African American women have internalized prejudices related to complexion and facial features; as a result, the hurtful legacy of slavery continues.

"Bi-directionality in Color-Letter Synesthesia"
By Rebecca Zahm
Instructor: Alice Horning

Excerpt: Synesthesia is a disorder in which the senses are crossed in the brain. Those affected may “taste shapes,” or “feel sounds.” Color-letter synethesia occurs when an individual sees letters and words as specific colors. While color-letter synethesia was thought to be unidirectional—that is the letters and words trigger the synesthetic response—Rebecca’s work corroborates recent research indicating that not only do letters and words trigger a color image in the mind’s eye of the individual, but colors also trigger the perception of a letter or a lexical search for certain words related to the letter. The judges found this a carefully crafted research study.

"Bring Back Recess"
By Jennifer Hoyes
Instructor: Bethany Shepherd

Excerpt: In this well-researched study, Jennifer Hoyes examines a variety of often-competing arguments--social, academic and physiological—about limiting students’ recess time in primary school. She argues ultimately that parents and school districts have a responsibility to base their decisions about recess on facts rather than feelings. “By decreasing or eliminating recess times we are…ignoring the facts and needs of our children.”

"Bullying in the Classroom: Educational Awareness"
By Sarah Vore
Instructor: Nancy Joseph

Excerpt: In this paper, Sarah Vore answers central questions about this troubling subject: “how can a teacher take an active role in recognizing and addressing bullying? Is there a connection between bullying and violent acts? What are some of the effects of bullying?" In answer to this last question, Sarah notes that bullying carries more than the threat of physical violence; it also leaves emotional scarring and severe emotional damage to those affected. Long lasting results attributed to bullying can range from lower self-esteem, depression, loneliness and anxiety to suicidal thoughts. Studies indicate that a drop in attendance and decline in overall grades are concerns of children involved in bullying.

"Gold Starts for Muslim Girls"
By Ramia Hannan
Instructor: Cathie Breidenbach

Excerpt: Ramia Hannan’s paper, “Gold Stars for Good Muslim Girls,” is a humorous description of her reluctant, sometimes rebellious, journey through religious instruction in grade and high school, culminating in her accepting her culture and religion as a college student. “Now as a freshman, she writes, I’m taking Arabic classes and I’ve even mustered up the courage to ask my parents to teach me how to pray.”

"Great American Tragedy: How a Strong Argument was Undermined by Theatrics"
By Jason Carabelli
Instructor: Greg Giberson

Excerpt: This paper is a cogent, insightful analysis of Glen Greenwalt’s book, Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics, a book that offers examples of the current trend in American politics to allow unsubstantiated partisan attacks to distract audiences from otherwise weak arguments. According to Carabelli, “while Greenwald clearly demonstrates a propensity for sound rhetorical argumentation, he subsequently seems to undermine any efforts at exhibiting such by couching his intellect in the 'political theatrics' so common to less credible arguments.”

"Happy Things"
By Jennifer Cummings
Instructor: Linda McCloskey

Excerpt: Jennifer took the opportunity offered by her creative non-fiction class to explore her relationship with her sister, Katie, and her good friend, Jessica. She recounts their many exploits with humor and sensitivity. Here she describes just some of their adventures: “We soaked dry pasta in bowls of water in our bedrooms for hours and when they finally clumped into globs of gelatinous noodles we devoured them with a thrill I have yet to experience with any cooking I’ve done in my adult life. We practiced aerial flips on my bed for hours; we stacked comforters and pillows on the floor of her bedroom, climbed a ladder to the crawlspace between the attic and the crawlspace between the attic and the cathedral ceiling and leapt to certain death below.”

"MTD Synthesis"
By Kathless Paulsen
Instructor: Steven Bizub

Excerpt: Arguing that the role of music in education is multi-dimensional, Kathleen Paulsen advances the idea that music can increase the depth and breadth of a student’s understanding of the world by pulling elements of culture, society and creative expression into the classroom. Integrated education in the arts enables students to engage in all of the kinds of artistic thinking so that they develop to their fullest potential, develop a valid sense of self and both recognize and celebrate their own strengths.

"One Chance at Life"
By Erica L. Smith
Instructor: Timothy Briggs

Excerpt: Erica Smith wrote a moving description of her loving relationship with her grandfather, a man who was close to death. “I glanced back one last time at my grandfather, my papa, lying on the bed with his hands at his sides, eyes starting into space at nothing in particular. With a sign I picked up my bag from the chair and threw it over my shoulder. I was grateful that Papa remembered me this time. His sickness was known to make him forget things, even people. He would sometimes call me by another name, convinced I was someone else, or not remember me at all. Shaking my head, I tried to rid myself of these thoughts.”

"Overprotective Parenting in Late Adolescence"
By Ian Lang
Instructor: Cornelia Pokrzywa

Excerpt: In this thoughtful paper, Ian Lang argues that “helicopter” parents, those that hover over their children, doing their work in an attempt to protect and help them, are actually debilitating their children, making them less able to function in new environments like college. Ian finds the roots of some rebellious behavior in parents’ unrealistic expectations. “The late adolescent sometimes feels as if he or she can please no one , especially those who are supposed to offer the most support: their parents.”

By Rachel Oakley
Instructor: Jennifer Coon

Excerpt: Rachel Oakley wrote a creative interpretation of several Diane Arbus photographs of a young, teenage woman who may be down on her luck, standing, facing the camera, holding her baby. Rachel imagines the woman’s back story involving her running away with an older, 22-year-old old man her parents don’t like. The young teenager wants to tell her mother about her new baby: “My gaze shifted to the phone that was on the table next to me. I reached for it, picked it up, and dialed, hardly even realizing what I was doing. After a ring or two a woman pickup up saying “Hello?” I didn’t know how to say what I was going to say so I just blurted out, Mom, do you want to her about your grandson? The next thing I knew I was listening to a dial tone--in shock.

"Religious Literacy in the Public School System: America vs. France"
By Lauren LaCourse
Instructor: Walli Andersen

Excerpt: Lauren LaCourse's first-prize research paper, “Religious Liberty in the Public School System: America vs. France,” was prompted by the recent French decision to ban the wearing of religious symbols by students in the French public school system. The judges were impressed by the quality of the research supporting her provocative argument. In her conclusion, Lauren asserts that: “ While Americans also believe in a separation of church and state, the way this belief ought to be implemented is often muddled, and the line that separates the two is often blurred. The French system creates a population united by national heritage, rather than one that clings to the cultural identities of individual pasts.”

"Sometimes Happiness, Sometimes Sadness"
By Khadeeja Zulfigar
Instructor: Catherine Haar

Excerpt: In Khadeeja Zulfigar's paper, “Sometimes Happiness, Sometimes Sadness,” she tells a powerful story of her family’s emigration from Pakistan to the United States and Michigan. “Time in Michigan flew by, mostly because I was young and I did not value time much. I was now in the fifth grade and knew how the world worked. Unfortunately, the world worked in a very wrong way. The 9-11 conspiracy created an anti-Islamic force in America. All of a sudden I was not judged by the content of my character but rather… by the religion I believed.”

"The Biomechanics of Plyometrics"
By Megan Fectean
Instructor: B. Goslin

Excerpt: Plyometrics, the judges learned, is a form of exercise that involves a pre-stretch of the muscle, followed by a rapid concentric contraction. This form of training can promote changes within the neuromuscular system that allows a person to have better control of muscle contraction. In this thoughtful, well-written essay Megan examines the reasons that polymetrics should be part of “an overall program that includes strength, speed, aerobic and flexibility training, and proper nutrition.”

"Theatrical Proletarians"
By Jason Storms
Instructor: Marshall Kitchens

Excerpt: A quasi phenomenological ethnography of a university scene shop, this project is a participant-observation study of the cultural workings behind the scenes of a theatrical production, focusing specifically on the rites, ritual, and practices of the production crew. Jason interviewed key informants in the shop, observed the interactions of the stage crew and ritualistic striking of a set, and mapped the space of the scene shop, providing photographic documentation of the area and artifacts. The resulting multimedia document integrates those photographs with field observations and analysis into a formal research project for WRT 364, Writing about Culture: Ethnography.?

"White Stone"
By Jerry D. Masters
Instructor: Linda McCloskey

Excerpt: Jerry Masters crafted a meditation on nature, our relationship to plant life, and the significance of naming and owning what we see. He writes about Treebeard, a guardian of the trees in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. “indeed it seems like Tolkien unconsciously heard the rare and noble voice of the trees, with names too deep and long to pronounce. In a letter he wrote that . . . he was interested in the difference between loving plants for their own sake and gardening and agriculture, which are often more possessive.”

"Women and Christianity from a Feminist Perspective"
By Elizabeth Silverman
Instructor: Walli Andersen

Excerpt: In this paper, Elizabeth analyzes the portrayal of women in the Bible. She argues that because of the focus on the positive aspects of Christian law as depicted in the bible, many fail to see how regressive Christian thinking is in terms of defining gender roles. She concludes that “it will take a great deal of time for the culture of the United States to change and create a real religious ideal based on a feminine reality.”

2008-2009 Writing Excellence Award Winning Essays
"A Year of Nightmares"
By Jesse Williams
Instructor: Cathy Rorai

Excerpt: "The men, the women, the children - all were a nightmare in their own ways. The men, often two-faced and quick to anger, always wore a grimace. The women, though rarely seen outside the home with anything more than hands showing, almost always held a posture of defeat. The children - they were the worst by far. Some of them crouched to the ground, a dour smile delicately planted on their faces, while others would rush to us begging for food and water only to throw rocks at us when we had no more to give. This was the first few months of experience in Khost, Afghanistan for the soldiers of Bravo Company, 1-158th Infantry Battalion."

"Dread Talk: The Language of Reggae"
By Jason Sotzen
Instructor: Alice Horning

Excerpt: “In the seventeenth century, as slaves were being taken from the West Coast of Africa, a linguistic code known today as Jamaican Creole, or Patois (“Patwa”), was developing. This form of communication was the result of European influences on the native African languages. Nearly three hundred years later, the language of Rastafari, a variety sparked by social dissent and powered by religious notions evolved from the Patois. For years, many Jamaicans had lived a life of oppression, resulting in a stratification of society. This new language became a way of expressing life in a climate of unrest. The basis for the Rastafari language seems well defined; however, “even in Jamaican society, Rastafarianism is a unique phenomenon, in that it appears unrelated to European or even African cultural antecedents” (Pollard xiii). Velma Pollard is a Jamaican born writer, teacher, and language researcher, whose most recent work has been studying the lexicon of Rastafari speech in comparison to Jamaican Creole. Pollard commonly refers to the Rastafari variety as “Dread Talk,” and it will often be labeled as such in this paper.”

"Economic Benefits of a More Literate Workforce"
By Michelle Maxfield
Instructor: Alice Horning

Excerpt: “There is currently a literacy problem in the country, as nearly half of all Americans are functionally illiterate. This statement does not mean that these individuals cannot read and write, but rather that they can only comprehend simple texts. Unfortunately, this literacy problem is making its way into the workforce as well. There are certainly major implications that come along with this underdevelopment of human capital, not only for corporations but also for those members of the workforce whose literacy skills are lacking. I feel that our workforce would reap tremendous economic benefits if more emphasis were put on the development of workers’ literacy skills. Through examining the general picture of literacy in the United States, discussing the importance of raising literacy requirements in order to fill emerging jobs in the economy, determining whether workers are adapting their literacy skills to accommodate this change, considering a specific case from a large corporation, and exploring the specific economic benefits of improving the literacy skills of the workforce, it will become clear that higher literacy levels among workers are needed in order to improve economic utility.”

"Efficacy of Treatment Options"
By Jared Allen
Instructor: Sherry Wynn-Perdue

Excerpt: "Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is an Axis II disorder, characterized by anger, aggression, mood deregulation, and pervasive patterns of unstable intrapersonal relationships. Axis II disorders fall in the category of personality disorders and mental retardation which are traditionally more difficult to diagnose and treat than clinical mental disorders. Current understanding of and treatments for this disorder are inadequate as demonstrated by the deficiency of existing pharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatment studies specific to BPD and its efficacy. This researcher offers a scholarly discussion of BPD treatment options for academic and lay audiences alike."

"Escaping My Escape"
By Tara Fugate
Instructor: Linda McCloskey

Excerpt: “Midterm week always inspires procrastination. I'm pretty sure it's a law of science—similar to gravity—because it never fails. I sit in front of my computer, staring blankly at the monitor in an attempt to will my essay to write itself. And when words do not magically appear on the stark white screen, the flashing cursor begins to mock me. The constant and consistent blink, blink, blink of the cursor seems to be laughing at me—laughing as it chides me on my lack of productivity, goading my insecurities, and it taunts me through its laughter, telling me that I’ll never get it done; I’ll fail. Instead of standing up to it, instead of proving it wrong, instead of writing the essay, I flee. I click on the Internet Explorer icon to check my email—a safe place void of laughing cursors, a place that will inevitably distract me from my troubles; an escape.”

"Happily Ever After"
By Hamida Saric
Instructor: Catherine Haar

Excerpt: "Mother is preparing dinner, while the young boy in the garden is chasing after his best friend in the world, the family dog. The oldest of the children, a bright and extremely mature young girl of only eleven years, takes care of her youngest sibling; a little girl that she is playing dress up with. As the soft wind begins to blow throughout the house and the mother watches the boy playing through the window, the telephone rings. She picks up with a delight to hear that it’s her husband that has been on the road for a couple of days due to his demanding routes as a semi truck driver. As she listens to his frightened tone, and fearful words she drops the telephone. She immediately runs to her oldest daughter and in a terrified manner tells her to get her siblings ready; to leave not only their house, but their home, their happiness."

"True Meaning of an Act"
By Jeffrey Wenskay
Instructor: John Simicek

Excerpt: "There is a major crisis with the current national education system. The cause for this catastrophe is the No Child Left Behind Act, a law Congress passed in 2001. Those who are most affected by the law are students and teachers in public schools across the United States. There are several debatable points about whether this law is helping or hindering the academic system. The educational system needs reassessment, but the unrealistic measures of NCLB cause lower quality education for our students. The U.S. Government should repeal the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 because the testing standards are inconsistent, teachers “teach to the test,” the tests are flawed, and disadvantaged students remain left behind."

“OU Orientation: Steps Toward Improvement”
By Lauren Kenaan
Instructor: Barbara Hamilton

Excerpt: "Oakland University provides a mandatory one to two day orientation for all incoming students. Orientation administrators here at Oakland have set goals for what orientation should accomplish. These goals range from helping students register for classes, to providing opportunities for students to socialize. The goals also create an academic and social framework for the students to build on. They make sense and many orientation specialists agree on their importance."

“Urban Forestry: An Important Component of Every Community”
By Patricia Nicole Deering
Instructor: Kathy Skomski

Excerpt: "The economic advantages that urban forestry programs provide to a community are of particular importance in these times of financial hardship. From the additional psychological and social benefits of living and working in landscaped areas to the innumerable environmental betterments provided by urban foresting, it seems impossible to deny such programs a place in our communities. Fortunately, with the appropriate planning and funding, every town, city, and state has the ability to reap the benefits of this fundamental renewable resource."

Forged in Fire: How Dante’s Inferno Builds the Regime of God
By Andrew Kozlowski
Instructor: Susan Beckwith

Excerpt: "Allegorical works are not an altogether uncommon species in literature, with Dante Alighieri’s Inferno being perhaps the most robust specimen of the lot, the bulk of its narrative serving as a moral mandate to readers. Yet when viewed through the theoretical lenses of Elaine Scarry’s The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World and Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, the story is revealed to be more than a mere ultimatum. Dante disciplines his readers to accept their place in the scheme of things by maneuvering them through the punitive society of Hell in a tiered, linear fashion, stopping along the way for exhibits of pain-conveying referents and power-confirming confessions that further coerce readers to comply with the norm as established by organized religion, lending weight to the threat of God’s surveillance and ultimately serving to modify the readers’ behavior. In its most base functionality, then, Dante’s Inferno is not just a warning of how sinners are processed in Hell but rather the process by which readers are conditioned to comply on Earth."

2005-2006 Writing Excellence Award Winning Essays
By Gita Saferi
Instructor: Timothy Briggs

Excerpt: I glanced down at my watch out of habit. It read 2:55. There were five minutes left to clock in before I was considered late for work. I walked slowly through the big double doors, noticing like I did every day, the large Sesame Street sign on top declaring, “Welcome to Peds.” I greeted the secretary and headed towards the break room. I clocked in at precisely 2:59, and made my way to the main pod. Cindy, the Nurse Assistant that had been training me for the past couple of months, stopped and handed me a report sheet. I looked down and immediately noticed a difference.

Man Cannot Live on Bread Alone…He Needs Prozac
By Christine Nguyen
Instructor: Alice Horning

Excerpt: According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 18.8 million Americans currently suffer from depression (National). Increasingly, these people are turning to psychopharmacology, the use of drugs to treat mental illness. In fact, staff writer, Jeanie Lerche Davis of the online medical information site, WebMD, reports that 80 percent of those being treated for depression are receiving antidepressant medications (Davis). Although the arrival of Prozac, the first modern antidepressant, in 1987, was greeted with optimism and acceptance, it did not take long for controversy to arise. Questions have surfaced regarding the proper uses of antidepressants, as more and more people become aware of them and request them. Society has been adversely affected by the advertisement and cosmetic uses of antidepressant medication, but the negative impacts can be offset with the use of psychotherapy.

Save Our Lights: The Fate of Michigan's Great Lakes Lighthouses
By Renee Blackburn
Instructor: Alice Horning

Excerpt: Michigan's lighthouses are an integral part of the history of the state. The first lighthouse built on Lake Huron, the Fort Gratiot Light, was completed in 1825 with many more to follow in its footsteps (Hyde 10). Though these great monuments are vital to ships' navigation along the Great Lakes, new technology has helped lead to their demise (Hyde). Michigan has over 120 lighthouses, more than any other state. All of them have historic or architectural importance and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places or are eligible to be listed (Introduction). Most lighthouses are owned by the United States Coast Guard, but some are owned privately or through a local government or historical society. Throughout the state, there are many efforts toward preservation currently in effect. Many of them are through the state government, including the Michigan Lighthouse Project. There are also many through local historical societies and organizations, such as the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association. Currently, the state of the lights is dire. Michiganders need to be aware of the rich history these grand monuments offer, the dangers they face, what is currently being done to preserve them and how they as citizens can help keep them from falling into a persistent state of decay.

The Day After Tomorrow
By Jonathan Ross
Instructor: Cathie Breidenbach

Excerpt: The Day After Tomorrow is a worst-case-scenario of everything that could go wrong if all that we hear about global warming is true. It is directed by Roland Emmerich, who has previously directed both Godzilla and Independence Day. Although his newest work is grounded more in reality, aspects of the standard action/disaster movie still seep into it. The film’s premise is interesting and very relevant, considering all the current publicity around global warming and the pollution that is causing it. Emmerich’s flair for intense action and sweeping disaster takes over after the premise explains why everything is happening. Cities are hailed on, ripped apart, flooded, and covered in snow with beautiful CGI (Computer Generated Images) effects. The story is coherent and clear, and is supported by strong roles played by Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Kenneth Walsh. As with most Hollywood movies, the main plot is also laced with sub-plots involving personal lives and relationships.

The Right Idea: Amish Entrepreneurs
By Allison Mertz
Instructor: Walli Andersen

Excerpt: Today’s world of business is a swimming pool full of competitors, each trying to push the other down to get ahead. Technique for succeeding in the business world and reaching the top is especially important in running small businesses. Often times a small business is more difficult to sustain than a larger one due to lack of funding and publicity; therefore, careful techniques must be used when running such a business. Moreover, contrary to the belief of many business owners, great funding and extreme advertisement are not necessary to succeed in the small business world. As a matter of fact, this idea has been proven by a certain group of entrepreneurs in present day America: the Amish. The Amish have gradually begun to take on entrepreneurship as their main career, as opposed to farming. By following the strict rules of their religion, the Amish have managed to achieve great success in their small businesses. Their goals and everyday routines differ greatly from those of non-Amish small business owners; this difference is why the Amish have managed to succeed more consistently than non-Amish entrepreneurs in the business world. The adoption of Amish entrepreneurial techniques should be a goal of non-Amish entrepreneurs because the Amish have shown success in their ways of business.

Two Means to an End: Clashing Opinions on the Environment
By Andrew Kozlowski
Instructor: Kathy Skomski

Excerpt: When dealing with an issue as complicated as environmentalism, it is only inevitable that two opposing viewpoints will lock horns and clash. Differences in perception lead to differences of opinion, and it is only in the reconciling of the two that we make progress. Thus, it is important to examine the two predominant schools of thought fueling the heated debate over the environment. On the one hand, we have the late Henry David Thoreau, an early American environmentalist who embodies the philosophy of natural spirituality and unspoiled wilderness. Opposite him is Peter Huber, a lawyer who advocates the proliferation of cities and suburbs, as well as the use of nonrenewable resources. They share an interest for the well-being of both man and nature, but their stances on how to achieve this are diametrically opposed.

2004-2005 Writing Excellence Award Winning Essays
Benefits of Human and Laughter
By Alex Cherup
Instructor: Wallis May Andersen

Excerpt: Humor and laughter exist everywhere in society. From birth to death, humor and laughter represent two of the most appreciated human traits. An intrinsic characteristic, laughter is first present when a child begins to chuckle around the nine-week birthday (Allen and Wollman 7). The phenomenon of humor and laughter has been a reoccurring interest among philosophers, and there is no definitive reason as to why people laugh or find something humorous. Nonetheless, it is undisputed that this incomparable ability is extremely valuable to one’s life. Humor and laughter are beneficial to the health and well-being of an individual, as both assist in improving one’s mental health, one’s physical health, and one’s place in society.

Brown Sugar, Mile Chocolate, Sunshine and Cinnamon Spice
By Gamal Nobel
Instructor: Catherine Haar

Excerpt: I was a timid traveler on a voyage cut short, turned wandering nomad, determined to find my own way to prosperity. Like a freshly published novel, filled with new characters, vivid images, and a sea of opportune plots, waiting for an anxious young reader to brave its bound cover, high school was the voyage that awaited me. During this journey I would meet potential friends, and also be presented with new challenges that I would have to face alone. High school was my first realistic glimpse of the world, and during this short-lived voyage, I began to learn a lot about myself and define my own character.

Gimmick or Gold: Fad Diets Changing Nutrition
By Michelle Kampfer
Instructor: Cathleen Breidenbach

Excerpt: To diet or not to diet? Is that even the question? Or is the question which diet? One thing is certain, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the subject of dieting. People generally don’t like to be lectured on how or what they eat. In spite of that fact, millions of people every year are buying diet books and joining weight loss programs. In any case the question whether dieting is necessary has pretty much been resolved. Americans are indisputably overweight, and there is no question as to whether something needs to be done about it. How our weight problems should be handled however is a whole other story. The popularity of many so called “Fad-Diets” has been stirring the pot recently among physicians, researchers, businesses, and the general public. Everyone seems to have the answer to how we should eat to lose weight; the problem is that almost everyone’s answers are different. With the countless fad diets how can we know who to believe, especially since they all claim to be “clinically proven.” Nevertheless there are good and bad aspects to nearly all of these diets. While there are dangers in fad diets there is also substantial evidence pointing to the creditability of some of these diets. With a knowledgeable base it is possible for one to incorporate the proven aspects of popular diets to create a realistic and healthy diet for weight loss.

Hostile Generations at Work
By Rainelle Stephenson
Instructor: Wallis May Andersen

Excerpt: A comparison of the workplace sixty years ago with the 21st century workplace reveals a multitude of changes that include the near extinction of typewriters, carbon paper, and adding machines and the addition of computers, e-mail, the Internet, and robots. Yesterday’s executives dictated correspondence to secretaries for typing; many of today’s executives type their own correspondence, use laptops for e-mail, and manage multiple locations around the world without leaving their offices. The employee of yesterday’s manufacturer often lifted heavy items with little or no assistance; today’s manufacturing employee may also lift heavy items, but may employ a computer to manipulate a robot to perform the task.

How to Talk to a Conservative (And You Must)
By Linda Curatolo
Instructor: Linda McCloskey

Excerpt: When rightwing political columnist and best-selling author Ann Coulter wrote her latest rant against liberals, her title included the phrase "talk to a liberal," as opposed to "talk with a liberal." The book How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must) was never meant as an actual guide for having discourse with acquaintances that happen to be liberal. It was an upfront warning that Coulter was about to spew yet another round of mean-spirited attacks on Democrats. Liberal is just a term she uses interchangeably with Democrat.

Language and Meaning in the Psychotherapeutic Process
By Melissa Falb.
Instructor: Alice Horning

Excerpt: Throughout time, linguists, philosophers and psychologists have been interested in the relationship between language and meaning. Although language is a universal phenomenon, different groups utilize diverse languages to communicate the same ideas and different individuals utilize the same words and language to express diverse ideas. This latter phenomenon becomes readily apparent in the psychotherapeutic setting. A therapist cannot help but notice that patients have their own nuanced way of communicating. Arguably, as patients are healed, their use of language and meaning changes. This report investigates the nature of that transformation, focusing specifically on the psychodynamic approach, but also drawing somewhat on the cognitive-behavioral approach as a means of comparison. Although all psychotherapeutic methods are likely to make use of language and meaning in their work, in order to keep

By Marius Illiescu
Instructor: Craig Smith

Excerpt: While it may be true that social order is maintained by people following the status quo, fortunately for the human spirit, not all of us willingly accept what is given, striving instead to find true social meaning through unusual and even socially unacceptable ways of artistic expression. The world of dance in its complexity and beauty is one of the most eclectic subjects that someone interested in describing the field of performing arts can write about. Because of its mute, corporeal, and symbolic nature, being able to decipher dance can even help us in becoming aware of the general development of human society and its multiple cultural aspects. Within the context of this larger topic, writing about one of the most fascinating and strong figures of twentieth century American modern dance, Martha Graham, is a humble personal homage dedicated to her unmistakable personality and artistic nemesis.

Mountain Climbing
By Cynthia Dodich
Instructor: Timothy Briggs

Excerpt: As we drove through the busy streets of a small Californian town, my eyes lighted on a green ridge of soft, rolling mountains. This was the only abundance of green I had seen since I came down a week before from Michigan to visit my boyfriend during the holidays. He and I were simply taking a drive for lack of anything better to do. It was such a beautiful day and it just didn’t seem right to stay inside. The weather was much like a late spring day in Michigan: the sun was out and shining, clouds had made it past the mountains and covered up the ever-present smog, the temperature was around 70 degrees. At home it was approximately 4 degrees, probably in the negatives if the wind chill was taken into account. Since the weather was such a treat, I was wearing a tank top. I’m sure the locals found me silly because they considered this cold. Ed was wearing a hoodie, and I couldn’t believe he was wasting such wonderful weather. This beautiful spring-like day called to be surrounded by green, just as I would have been in Michigan. Spring was my favorite season, and today would be the perfect day to climb a mountain.

2003-2004 Writing Excellence Award Winning Essays
A Taste of Perfection
By Reuben-Milton Collins
Instructor: Kathy Skomski

Excerpt: After stepping into the parking lot I cannot help but calculate how many cars can actually fit into such a small place. The cracked asphalt has just enough room for a maximum of twelve vehicles, and even then it is a tight fit. At one time this minute building was home to a common American family, but has since evolved, but not grown, into something a little more unique. Green walls with the texture of aged wood surround the small windows and doors, which are framed in white. The tattered shingles are even speckled green and black adding to the coordination of colors. As I round the corner of the building it occurs to me that I am standing only a couple steps from 8-Mile Road and only a block or two west of Gratiot Avenue in Warren, Michigan.

Educate, Evolve, Accept: Facing, Fighting, and Ending Homophobia in American Schools
By Joshua Miller
Instructor: Cathie Breidenbach

Excerpt: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (United States Declaration of Independence). These are the words and ideals upon which the United States of America was founded over two centuries ago. Yet, the supposed equality of all humans still manages to elude American society even today. One of the most controversial areas of this fight for equality lies in the area of sexual orientation.

Strudel Gods be Praised
By Luise Bolleber
Instructor: Linda McCloskey

Excerpt: Sweet Potato Pecan Pie, Crust for Strawberry Tart, Apple Pear Crisp, but no Strudel. After rifling through every recipe folder and binder in my collection, I still cannot locate the precious recipe I had gone so far out of my way to procure. I know it has to be somewhere. What better way to commemorate my aunt’s life than to make her famous apple strudel, the melt-in-your mouth delicacy everyone in my family loves.

The Doctor is IN
By Zeilstra
Instructor: Suzanne Drapeau

Excerpt: thanx 4 c-ing me doc. can’t really c u, lol Is this better? [A picture of a fat, happy Buddha statue appears on the screen.] By the way, could you please use standard English? That would prevent misunderstandings. What is “lol”? “Laughing Out Loud.” You don’t use chat rooms much, do you? Hey, that is the picture I chose in the menu section of! Yes, that is my picture.

The Forgotten Soldiers of the Forgotten War
By Anthony Gallina
Instructor: Robert Lamphear

Excerpt: ne call, one highly classified call was made to President Truman at his home in Independence, Missouri on Saturday June 24th 1950. The Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, was informing the president that the Communist North Korea attacked South Korea with intent to take it over and convert it to their Communist ways. With word of this, President Truman and his team of Government officials decided to take action to help the democratic South Koreans. Through the many events of the Korean War, many believed that the battle at the Changjin (Chosen) Reservoir was to be one of the most difficult and honorable battles known to US fighting. While many people believed that the Marines were the prime-fighting unit for the US during this battle, others look beyond that and say that the Army soldiers who arrived to help the Marines, were also keys to the fighting. United States Army soldiers were indeed apart of the Chosen Frozen at the Reservoir, and it is dishonorable to think that so many forget to mention these brave souls.

The Ongoing Controversy of Title IX
By Evan Dawley
Instructor: Kasia Kietlinska

Excerpt: Every year, thousands of young men across the country begin their baseball season with the hopes of some day becoming big league players. Some players fade away from the game, but others go on, stronger and more passionate, to excel in America’s pastime. One of the best experiences a young man can have is the thrill of playing Division I college baseball. However, in the fall of 1998, the hopes, dreams, and passions of twenty-eight baseball players at Providence College were shattered. Coach Charlie Hickey had been coaching nine years for Providence when he had to tell his players of some horrific news—the 1998-99 season would be Providence baseball’s last season.

Vouchers and Education Reform: Perpetuation of an Unjust System
By Patrick Hayes
Instructor: Kasia Kietlinska

Excerpt: Questions regarding how to mend inequities in the public school system have been a constant theme in education policy throughout the twentieth century. Policy makers and community leaders at every interval on the ideological spectrum have developed numerous theoretical positions designed to cure what is afflicting public education. Within the last twenty years, tuition vouchers have become a reform proposal that will supposedly allow equal educational opportunity to all regardless of social and financial standing.


2012 Writing Excellence Awards Winners
Best Personal Essays in First Year Writing
Cody MaxamFirst Place
The Best Childhood

As I was getting everything ready to take out to the trash bin, I caught sight of the binder that held all of my stories and drawings. It took me a few seconds to recognize what it was, for I hadn’t seen it in years. I walked over to it, took it off the shelf, and sneezed when the dust filled my nose. After I had recovered, I stared at the mahogany-colored binder for several seconds. Not a thought passed through my head as I continued to stare.  Before I knew what I was doing, I shoved the binder into my bag of trash, tying it tight, and proceeded to take it out to the garbage bin.
Hannah Bossner Second Place
Ex-Homeschooler: Writer Extraordinaire

Before leaving for school I decided to take one last look of myself in the mirror. The  12-year-old girl staring back at me was the epitome of an awkward junior higher. She was tall for her age, and her atrocious school uniform (that was bought purposely larger, to “grow into”) hung off of her body. Dark eyeliner rimmed her eyes, because after all, why shouldn’t she wear makeup now that she was 12? Her pulled back hair further accentuated the wonderful combination of a blemished and fevered complexion. I wasn’t so positive that that girl was going to be a success. 

Read more

Jennifer ScottThird Place
Making the Personal . . . Personal

The way she looked will never leave my mind. Her eyes were sunken in, her skin looked like it was about to fall off her bones, and her hair hadn’t been brushed in days. To this day, I still wonder if she had been planning it all along. I wonder if I ever crossed her mind during the process.

A few hours passed and Libby still hadn’t progressed. Every time my mom or I checked on her, she would still be in the same position. I wanted to know what was wrong. Read more 
Best Analytical Essays in First Year Writing
Tyler DrabekFirst Place

To Drill or Not: The Great Lakes

In the year 2002, directional drilling (drilling a slant well to reach a target not directly beneath the drill site) for oil and natural gas under the Great Lakes was banned by state law and in 2005 by federal law (Sheikh, Humphries, Ramseur, and Vann, 2008). The fact that this is not a constitutional ban, however, means that it can be repealed at any time, raising the question of whether directional drilling in the Great Lakes should be allowed or not. Read more 
Michelle Walters

Second Place

Usage of the Term 'Sketchy'

The most common discovery of this research suggests that “sketchy” is used mainly by young adult females to express a strong negative feeling about someone or something.  The study also suggests that, when used by males in relation to a physical action, “sketchy” can contain a different meaning, and when used by aging adults it may be used with involvement of the original meaning and be in no way related to the slang definition. Read more

James Gillen IIIThird Place
Research and Analysis of the Slang Term ‘Homie

A survey was conducted in order to gain a more definitive understanding of the slang term “homie.”  Following the survey, significant findings were produced that revealed that the term “homie” is a word used by individuals to express friendship between two people.  Furthermore, “homie” was found to be a word people associate with a positive connotation that individuals use as a noun to describe their friends.
Best Research Essay in WRT 160
James HamzeyFirst Place 
Ignis Ardens: A Partial Exoneration of the Bosnian Church  

Anthropological evidence is used to suggest that Catholic officials may have mistaken some Bosnians who absorbed pagan or magical practices as heretics. This study concludes that the Bosnian Church became partially heretical around the fifteenth century because of its autonomy and the tendency of Bosnians to absorb aspects of other religions.  Read more 
Stephanie JacksSecond Place
Male Breast Cancer Awareness: Showing an Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Although the incidence of breast cancer in males occurs much less frequently than in females, the general public should not have the distorted idea that it does not occur at all. More people could be educated by means of public service announcements or a new breast cancer commercial that involves both genders. These efforts could provide a stepping stone for increasing the understanding and prevention of male breast cancer. Read more
Hanna TrzeciakiewiczThird Place
How Barbie was Too Cool and Got Expelled from Pre-School

Research from the 1980s suggests Barbie is the best doll to have, yet recent studies imply otherwise. It is now known that since Barbie has been around (53 years), she has had more time to leave lasting effects such as sexualizing young girls, emphasizing racial discrimination, causing a discrepancy between reality and ideality, suppressing the pursuit of science careers, discouraging young girls to eat, and giving rise to what could be called human Barbie dolls. Read more
Best Research Projects in Upper Level Writing Intensive Courses
Aaron PerryFirst Place

Retention and the Male Psyche: Compounding Issues in the Writing Center.

Men’s attitudes toward seeking help exacerbates the issue of retention and results in the current problem we’re facing in both the WC and the university. The WC should make a concerted effort to hire more male tutors, which will help present an image of the WC as a place where males can feel at ease. These strictures could potentially fix both the WC’s and university’s problems of low male usage and retention, as tutoring frequency is directly correlated with improved grades (William & Takaku, 2011, p. 6). Read more
Jenelle Dembsey Second Place

Sexual Harassment at Oakland University:  Guidelines for Improving Policies, Procedures, and Training Type

Oakland is responsible for protecting all campus members and in doing so must be proactive in preventing sexual harassment before it takes place. Consistently updating the training course to discuss even the most recent types of harassment keeps students and employees up-to-date and protects Oakland’s liability: harassers cannot claim ignorance, and victims know their rights. Read more
Tricia Austin HagerThird Place
Navigating the Grocery Store: Obstacles, Influences, and Consumer Choice

The sliding automatic doors welcomed me right into the fruit and vegetable section, and an array of colors greeted my eyes – stacks of apples, oranges, various lettuces—that from afar appeared fresh and inviting.  I deeply inhaled the scent of freshly watered produce; a wonderful, earthy smell mixed with – fried chicken?  I browsed the fruits and vegetables and noticed they appeared lackluster and wilted upon closer inspection, and humorously noted a sale for Apple Chips (freeze dried, sweetened ‘real pieces’ of apple) underneath the actual apple stand. Read more
Best Works of Creative Nonfiction
Donald Drife

First Place

Nature's Comfort

Bird’s foot violets bloomed from the burnt ground, their divided green leaves and blue flowers appearing in stark contrast against the blackened cinders that littered the sandy earth. Bracken ferns already stood knee high, their triangular fronds waving defiantly in the breeze. The air smelled of ash, and the acrid odor of charred wood hung in the air. My hands and clothing became black with soot. Read more

Angelica Labadie Second Place

The Man in the Brownstone

Upon entering the foyer, I remember the smell of dog urine, stale cigarettes and overcooked cabbage, the combination made me gag and I would turn to go back outside, always stopped by the impetus of my siblings’ bodies struggling to climb up the narrow stairway. Read more
 Kim WagnerThird Place

My Mother

She often made crafts with us - popsicle stick reindeer on Christmas, huge construction paper eggs blanketed in messy glitter and rhinestones on Easter, and finger painted American flags on the Fourth of July. We would sit with her in the sandbox, together creating our own miniature world by repeatedly packing dark sand into castle-shaped buckets. She kissed our beestings, smeared antibiotic ointment on our cuts, and rubbed our backs as we reluctantly gulped down chalky, pink Pepto-Bismol. Read more

Best Multimedia Projects
Brian SchrollFirst Place
Headstone Engraver: A Changing Career

See more (video)
Brianne Dear Second Place 
Peer Tutoring in Reading Comprehension: The Importance of a Program in Your Elementary School

See more 
Amber Corwin 

Third Place 
My Escape: The Legend of Zelda

See more (video)