December 8, 2014 • Anonymous
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The Best Freshmen Essay Award recipients at this year’s Freshmen Academic Convocation: Cecilia Torres, Rai-ya Wilson, and Berenice Velasquez.
“Each (paper) demonstrated how the academic essay can be a forum not only to present and analyze information, but also an occasion to foster greater moral understanding and compassion,” stated Professor Andrew Bodenrader, director of Academic Writing and the Academic Resource Center.
During the spring semester of their writing seminar, freshmen are required to submit a paper with a minimum of 12 pages and 6 sources. The instructors submit the best essays in the class to a committee which reads them and selects the most outstanding ones who are honored as sophomores the following fall.
According to Professor Gillian Hannum, the Freshmen Essay is “an analytical paper that synthesizes (freshmen) seminar content, incorporates preliminary independent research, demonstrates proficiency in critical thinking, and applies the fundamental elements of composition, persuasion and research presented in the writing course sequence.”
Cecilia Torres wrote, “Vieques and the U.S. Navy: An Uphill Battle for Human Rights.” An intended History and Management major, her Freshmen Seminar inspired her to write about her homeland.
“My seminar was about violence in Latin America, so I could see the themes of my seminar reflect on what my country suffered through those years. So basically, seeing the conflict from Puerto Rico’s perspective and giving it to people who are not from Puerto Rico was what inspired me to write this essay,” she stated.
19-year-old Rai-ya Wilson, who intends to self-design her own major in Child Advocacy Law, wrote, “The New Ruby Bridges: How Stereotypes in Television Impact Black Girls’ Confidence, Competitiveness, and Conflict to Assert Power.”
“I really wanted to focus my freshmen essay on how gender and race interact with one another and that whole idea of the media and how that impacts body image, and self-esteem,” Wilson said. “I think that that’s one thing to look at but when you add in what that looks like for a young black girl it becomes different because we get different messages and we have different images and there aren’t as many black women in mainstream media. I also wanted to highlight why is it that the few images that we do have aren’t exactly that positive.”
Berenice Velasquez, who aspires to become a diplomat for the United Nations, wrote“The Psychological Differences Between Rescuers, Bystanders, and Perpetrators in a Genocide.”
“I learned that what makes you a a perpetrator or a bystander is your values, your mindset and just the type of person that you are towards other human beings,” stated Berenice.