First Year Seminar Writing Prize

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The First-Year Seminar Writing Prize celebrates the work of first-year writers at Wesleyan. Transitioning to college writing is no easy feat. And yet, semester after semester, Wesleyan students go above and beyond in their first-year seminars, discovering their voices and ideas while acclimating to expectations of academic writing at Wesleyan. This essay prize celebrates all of the work that happens during this process. Moreover, winners of the essay prize will have their writing published on our website--the archive of winning essays is coming soon! The archive will provide examples of exemplary first-year writing to help future first-years as they, too, transition to writing at Wesleyan. 

This year, we announced three winners and two honorable mention finalists of the FYS prize. The winning students--and their FYS instructor--will be recognized on the FYS prize plaque in the Shapiro Center for Writing. The winning students received a $100 prize, honorable mention finalists a $50 prize.

Here are the 2020 winners and their essay titles:

  • Nathan Foote, for “Anti-Gospel,” written for Anne Greene’s “Place, Character, and Design”
  • Gissel Ramirez, for “Gissel Not Giselle: Language as an Identity,” written for Lauren Silber’s “Why You Can’t Write”’
  • Michelle Seaberg, for “Your Gender, Hand it Over: Imposing Gender Categories as a Means of Control,” written for Margot Weiss’s “Social Norms / Social Power: Reading ‘Difference’ in American Culture”
  • Alexis Papavasiliou, for “Was Oxygen the Only Player in the Cambrian Explosion?” written for Ellen Thomas and Johan Varekamp’s “As the World Turns: Earth History, with Life’s Ups and Downs” (honorable mention finalist)
  • Natalie Shen, for “Critical Analysis of the Defensive Asylum Seeking Process from a Linguistic Perspective,” written for Beth Hepford’s “How Language Works: The Beliefs and Bias that Affect our Social World” (honorable mention finalist)

Here are their essays: 2020 Essays

To Nominate a Writer:

Any person at Wesleyan (student, staff, faculty, etc.) can nominate a student to submit their essay. Nominations for 2020 have closed.

To Submit an Essay:

Students can submit their essay for consideration. Submissions for 2020 have closed.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. I took an FYS during Summer Session in 2020. Can I submit my paper?

Yes! Any paper written for a First-Year Seminar during the 2020 calendar year is eligible to win the FYS Writing Prize.

2. Can I edit my paper more before I submit it?

Yes! We welcome you to continue your writing process and make any edits, revisions, or changes to your paper before submitting it, although you cannot receive any further feedback on the paper from a professor.

3. Can I submit more than one paper?

Yes! You may submit as much work as you like, as long as it was all written for an FYS during 2020.