FWIS Student Prize Winners

Academic Year 2022-2023

In order to recognize student achievement and to motivate students to improve their communication skills, the Program in Writing and Communication offers awards with cash prizes for the most outstanding expository and analytical essays and oral presentations each academic year. Congratulations to our winners!

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Rohan Palavali, First Place, Best Oral Presentation

“Healthcare Disparities in Houston” view presentation

FWIS 180: Writing for Social Justice

Rohan Palavali is a sophomore at Hanszen College from Dallas, Texas. He is majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Global Health Technologies. As part of this project, Rohan learned about the causes and effects of healthcare inequality in Houston. He explores the social determinants of health and how Houston’s

Woman in blue blouse smiling

Caroline Thames, First Place, Best Expository and Analytical Essay

“Leslie Jamison’s ’The Empathy Exams’: Breaking the Silence Towards Suffering" read essay

FWIS 151: Making Sense of Ourselves

Caroline Thames is a native Houstonian and a sophomore at Will Rice College studying biosciences and kinesiology. After reading “The Empathy Exams” in class, she decided to take a deeper dive into Jamison’s other work surrounding empathy and how society responds to female suffering. As Jamison reveals in her work, empathy ultimately goes beyond understanding; it is “a choice we make: to pay atention, to extend ourselves. It’s made of exertion.” Caroline’s essay is an exploration of the (in)significance of the boundary between real and imagined pain, and a call for a more intentional and compassionate response to human suffering of all kinds.

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Nahom Zerai, Second Place, Best Expository and Analytical Essay

“The Effect of Historical Recollection on John Sayles’s Lone Star” read essay

FWIS 154: The Good, the Bad, and the Border

Nahom Zerai is a sophomore at Sid Richardson College majoring in Bioengineering and minoring in Neuroscience on the Pre-Med track. He resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but is originally from Yirgalem, Ethiopia. Throughout the writing process, Nahom gained a greater appreciation for the complex relationship people from multicultural backgrounds, like himself, have with their history and how societies that push unitary perspectives can marginalize integral parts of their history.

Man smiling

Kelvin Phung, Third Place, Best Expository and Analytical Essay

“At the Crossroads of Asian American Justice and Climate Justice” read essay

FWIS 198: From Climate Change to Climate Justice

Kelvin Phung is a sophomore at Duncan College and is originally from Sugar Land, Texas. Growing up in an Asian immigrant family that always hoarded plastic bags, he has always been interested in environmentalism and its intersection with the Asian diaspora. In his essay, Kelvin explores the rich interplay between climate justice and Asian American justice, arguing that climate justice aims are ultimately articulated by Asian American grassroots organizations. The process of writing his paper allowed him to not only clarify the importance of the Asian American diaspora in the broader climate justice moment but also identify gaps in the purported inclusivity of climate justice activism, which fails to commemorate or even acknowledge the labor of Asian American activists.


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