FAQ: Nikki K. Pape President’s Award for Excellence in Writing

Submissions for the Nikki K. Pape President’s Club Award For Excellence in Writing are due by Monday, April 1, 2013 at 4:00 pm.  Graduating seniors compete for a cash award by submitting to the English department a portfolio of the best, most original writing they have done while at Illinois Wesleyan.  Included in the portfolio may be any or all of the following:  fiction, drama, poetry, journalism, creative non-fiction, or literary criticism. Judging is by a committee of English department faculty; the winner is announced by the President during the graduation ceremony.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  What kind of work should I include?  Should I include work in more than one genre?

There is no set answer to this question.  Consider your choices in this regard a balancing act.  On the one hand, including different genres of your writing–critical work as well as creative work, for example, or Argus articles as well as poetry or creative non-fiction–can demonstrate breadth and flexibility, both of which are strengths in a writer.  On the other hand, your writing will be judged primarily on its quality rather than its breadth.  If including works from multiple genres would dilute the overall quality of the portfolio, you should leave out the weaker material.  Turn in the work that will demonstrate your strengths as a writer, whatever they are.

Q. How much writing should I include in the portfolio?

Again, there is a balancing act here.  On the one hand, a larger portfolio can can allow you to demonstrate that you didn’t just write a few good pieces, but rather have produced consistently excellent work in a variety of writing situations.  At the very least, you should include enough work to comprise a genuine portfolio, not just a single paper or creative work.  On the other hand, turning in a large portfolio that is uneven in quality will reflect poorly on your ability to select material and to judge the quality of your own writing.  Turn in a substantial portfolio of your very best work.

Alumni update: Ashley Lauren Samsa’s blog posting published in The Guardian

Ashley Lauren Samsa’s (06) blog posting, “Say no to armed guards in schools,” was published in the prominent progressive London newspaper The Guardian on February 20.  “I pitched it to them and they accepted it,” writes Ashley.  “I work as a freelance writer in addition to teaching, so I pitch a lot of pieces to various outlets. Aside from the HuffPo article a few years ago, this is the first major publication to accept a pitch of mine, so it is very exciting.”

Responding to calls in the wake of the Newtown shooting by the NRA and congressional Republicans to increase the presence of armed guards in schools, Ashley writes, “After seven years of teaching high school in the south suburbs of Chicago, I know that the presence of police does not enhance the educational experience; in fact, it can diminish it. . . . I want to protect the safety of the students in my classroom more than anything else, but adding guns to our schools is not the way to do it. A society that polices its schools like it does its prisons can only lead to students with lives more like convicts than children.”

Congratulations, Ashley–keep up the fine work!