Past First -Year Writing Winners

First-Year Writing

To view past past first-year writing winners, click on the links below.



2016 First-Year Writing Awards | Honorable Mention for the category of "Digital Portfolio"
Student: Meredith Pearman; Instructor: Julie Cook

This e-portfolio is a showcase of my work in UWRT 1102, University Writing in Academic Contexts II, that I have completed throughout this semester at UNC- Charlotte. UWRT 1102 is a class that fosters the development of extended inquiry through the uses of reading, questioning and writing. This class if a follow-up to pre-requisite, UWRT 1101, or sufficient AP credit from a previous institution. The purpose of this course is to polish our reading and writing development within genres and specifically focus on the "contextualized writing process" based on the Student Learning Outcomes.

Throughout this course, the goal is to develop better knowledge of each Student Learning Outcome and the use of such in our own inquiry processes. This is not the class where you get to read articles or texts and then summarize your thoughts (that was clearly stated in the syllabus). Yes, I know that I must read to comphrehend the message, but by learning to incorporate all of the class objectives, I have gained much more than just learning how to write another paper. I have learned to analyze texts and find what the "missing link" or "unanswered question" is all with the intent that I can build and create my ownideas. After 14 years of schooling I can now say that I like to write! 

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2016 First-Year Writing Awards | Honorable Mention for the category of "Digital Portfolio"
Student: Nathan Moore; Instructor: Meaghan Rand

My name is Nathan Moore and I was born in Marshall, Michigan, but North Carolina has always been my home. My family moved to Raleigh when I was three, and I have enjoyed all North Carolina has to offer. I have one sister, a dog, and a mean cat. Most of my family is from North Carolina, so it was inevitable that my voice would get a southern draw.

Univeristy of North Carolina at Charlotte

I transferred to UNCC from Appalachian State University before the Fall Semester of 2014. I am enjoying UNCC and the city definitely fits my personality. One of the advantages of transferring to UNCC is that my English teacher cares about the style of my writing and is helping me get better at my personal style. 

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2016 First-Year Writing Awards | Winner for the category of "Best Digital Portfolio"
Student: Sebin Yang; Instructor: Meaghan Rand

This video is a very short introduction in order to offer you a guide to using this portfolio. It briefly explains who I am as a writer, what this portfolio is about, how this class operates, and what you can get from this portfolio. To start exploring, click the play button to watch!

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2016 First-Year Writing Awards | Honorable Mention for the category of "Multimodal Project"
Student: Jeri Colbert; Instructor: Jan Rieman

2016 First-Year Writing Awards | Honorable Mention for the category of "Multimodal Project"
Student: Erin Thompson; Instructor: Linda Hoffmann

2016 First-Year Writing Awards | Winner for the category of "Best Multimodal Project"
Student: Dyllon Thomas; Instructor: Linda Hofmann

2016 First-Year Writing Awards | Honorable Mention for the category of "Print Essay"
Student: Fizah Mahmood; Instructor: Meaghan Rand

In Gaza, a child lays hungry and in pain in the wreckage of his once home. In the bustling city of Mumbai, an old street sweeper searches the trash in hopes to find a meal for himself and his family. In Burma, a family is kept unjustly in a concentration camp with deprival of their basic human rights and needs. In the border of Syria, another plastic boat is being loaded with families trying to escape the harsh reality of their existence. In the streets of Mecca, a child with both his limbs missing is seen begging for money; the only piece of clothing on him is a ratty brown t-shirt covered in rips and holes. In the deserts of Tanzania, a malnourished child is forced to skip another meal; it is the second meal she has skipped that day. In China, a 7-year-old boy (and victim to child labor) watches the other kids laughing in school while he tediously sits on the side of the road polishing shoes to earn enough money for his dinner. And while all of this is happening outside our borders, we American’s are sitting in front of our televisions tuning in to watch the latest episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

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2016 First-Year Writing Awards | Honorable Mention for the category of "Print Essay"
Student: Mia Piacentino; Instructor: Barbara Presnell

My childhood was a blissful time in my life; I have no reason to complain. My parents were always supportive and loving, as were my siblings, even if they never would admit it. I also was blessed to have four grandparents there to show up to sporting events, dance recitals, and school plays with flowers in hand. I always knew I was lucky when it came to my grandparents because many of my friends did not have the pleasure of knowing or meeting theirs. I grew up thinking fondly of both sides of grandparents: Grandpop and Grandma on my dad’s side, and Grandma Hickey and Grandpa Bill on my mom’s. I never assumed that my Grandpa Bill was not my biological grandfather. The thought never passed my mind until about age ten.

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2016 First-Year Writing Awards | Winner for the category of "Best Essay"
Student: Joshua Crespi; Instructor Suzanne Ingram

The presence of grey wolves or Canis lupus in North America was greatly diminished in the 1920s due to excessive hunting and the belief that the species was no more than mere vermin (Beschta and Ripple 121). In recent years, with the help of the Endangered Species Act, the wolf population has rebounded and some organizations like the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service have elected to remove wolves from the protection of the endangered species category. While various restraints on wolf hunting are already in place, U.S. hunters are beginning to question their right to hunt the animal for sport as well as for practical motives. With question of legalized wolf hunting surfacing the economics of the issue begin to come into play, and the question of overpopulation begins to take form. On the other side of the debate are those who feel that the presence of apex predators, such as wolves, plays a vital role in the health of other animals, vegetation and plant life, and even water bodies such as rivers. Supporters of the aforementioned belief recognize the concept of trophic cascade, which states that when components of the upper portion of the food chain suffer, a trickledown effect can be witnessed, which harms the entire ecosystem. A depiction of trophic cascade can be found on the following page, this image was taken from the report of Robert L. Beschta, and William J. Ripple titled "Wolves, Trophic Cascades, and Rivers in the Olympic National Park, USA.".

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2015 First-Year Writing Awards | Honorable Mention for the category of "Best Multimodal Project"
Student: Son Huynh; Instructor: Suzanne Ingram

The first genre I chose in order to convey my purpose of informing consumers the impacts, benefits, and trade-offs of technology is a magazine article. I specifically based the layout of my article after a page in Time Magazine due to their focus on trending issues in society, politics, and technology. My target audiences were mainly teenagers and young adults, with ages ranging from thirteen to roughly mid-thirties. This is due to the fact that these groups are the dominating technology consumers, and my magazine article discusses how technology takes away the social interactions that separate humans from other animals. Because it is a magazine article, I relied heavily on the linguistic mode out of the five modes of communication. I presented the information in a mostly third-person point of view, in order to match how Time magazine presents theirs. However, to stay true to the genre, I added a sentence in first-person point of view at the end as the finishing touch in order to appeal to the reader’s pathos. Even though I have used logos by presenting facts throughout the article, such as how the lack of social interaction is partly due to the accessibility of information on the fly (Liffick) or how the brain has to adapt constantly to technological changes (Greenfield), I felt that asking a question directly towards the audience helps to recap my purpose, which I had stated above. By utilizing ethos, the audience never has to stop and second-guess my information, since my findings derived from experts and professors of the technological world. This popular genre can be found as a magazine article in any major pushing companies, such as Time Warner or National Geographic Society. As for kairos, I believe that choosing Time Magazine is perfect for the current time because technology never ceases to advance, and consumers need to be informed of the gradual disintegration of human interactions that have resulted as people get hooked up to their devices. I strongly feel that this specific genre is successful in informing my audience the impacts, benefits, and trade-offs of technology, due to Time Magazine having the reputation in delivering up-to-date and reliable findings.

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2015 First-Year Writing Awards | Honorable Mention for the category of "Multimodal Project"
Student: Diane Gromelski; Instructor: Cat Mahaffey

“The invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from the acts of government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents,” James Madison wrote in a letter to fellow founding father Thomas Jefferson in 1788 (“The Question of a Bill of Rights”). Madison expressed his concerns that large organizations of like-minded citizens, or interest groups, would gain too much influence in Congress, saying they contribute to “the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished” (“The Federalist No. 10”). Madison’s predictions have come true as interest groups now have an unprecedented amount of influence on public policy decisions, overpowering the voice of the individual constituent.

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2015 First-Year Writing Awards | Winner for the category of "Best Multimodal Project"
Student: Ashley Williams; Instructor: Carrie Sippy

The process of transitioning is not like anything you could ever imagine. For the purpose of this assignment, I am inquiring into that process because I think it can teach the world a lot about agency, performativity, and the importance of approaching gender and sexuality with an open mind.

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2015 First-Year Writing Awards | Honorable Mention for the category of "Best Essay"
Student: Lawrence Lardieri; Instructor: Meaghan Rand

Sundays with my family go a bit like this; “Giuseppe you gavone! Get off your butt and shred the parm.” This is often my signal to get moving and go help out. In the kitchen it is obvious who is in charge. A short woman adorned with gray hair, wire glasses and a commanding presence; my Aunt Elaine runs a tight ship. Almost like a conductor, she directs different members manning two pots of gravy cooking on the stove top, a pot of water boiling the gavadil, and the corner operation of rolling the brajoel. Frank Sinatra and Louis Prima fill in the noise between clanging plates and semi-serious complaints about the anti-past presentation. The preparation is painstaking, but we all have a common goal in mind. With this we keep at it until our jobs are done. As the day goes on, the work dies down. It is one single phrase that ends the workday without fail; Mangia. With that we drop whatever we had been doing and sit at the table. It can be anywhere from five to thirteen people, aging between two to seventy-four. Here anything and everything is discussed, ranging from some stunade that cut in line at the grocery store to New Jersey state politics. It is here, with this food, with this discussion, and with each other that we are a family. This is why I love family Sundays up North.

At home I am Lorenzo Giuseppe Lardieri III. Lorenzo Giuseppe Lardieri the first came to the US in the early part of the last century as a little kid. I never was able to meet my grandfather, but he has had such a large impact on who I am. It was through him that the family I am a part of exists. Lorenzo’s name was Americanized to Lawrence Joseph and shortened to Larry Joe. From my name the strong Italian roots are obvious. A deeper glance shows a cultural struggle to create a new identity, one separate from the Italian one. Noticeable even is the attempt at preservation. An attempt at not only preserving the memory of a man but embodying his culture.

The idea of preservation is central to Italian American culture. Preservation of language, preservation of the past, and preservation of family. Food is such a large staple in the Italian American families because it acts like a magnet, attracting people together. Mangia is the force that literally unites the food, magnetic north, and the family, magnetic south. It translates to “you eat.” It is an invitation more so than a command. Mangia brings my family together to eat, to laugh, to love. There is a reason pasta is a staple of Italian American Sunday dinners across the east coast. Pasta is always cooked on Sunday because it keeps for the entire day. Pizza gets soggy, salad doesn’t stay fresh, and sandwiches go stale. On Sundays in Italian American households visitors and family members often drop in unexpectedly. Offering a bowl of pasta is a way to say welcome, sit down, and be a part of the family. It represents the unity portion of the word community. Now perhaps one doesn’t often have visitors on Sundays anymore because the societal culture has changed, but that doesn’t mean you lose that tradition. If anything, it means you try even harder to keep that tradition, to preserve it.

When most of the Italians came to the United States, they would live in small communities surrounded by immigrants like themselves. The community helped to make a home in a new and unfamiliar environment. It acted as a network, as a support structure, and as a backbone for people transitioning to life in America. When someone was experiencing difficulty, there was an entire support structure right there to help. Equally when someone did particularly well it was celebrated throughout the community. These celebrations were often very public and full of pride. Many announcements of triumphs and achievements used to show up in local community newspapers and publications. Sadly these announcements are not as prevalent as they once were. My family buys a subscription to one of these, a New Jersey based newspaper called The Italian Tribune. Every month in the Tribune there are stories about the achievements of notable Italians and Italian Americans around the world. These achievements would range from setting up a community arts program to aiding in research of the Higgs-Boson particle. The Tribune was one of the few papers that still reported successes in this way. Each achievement is celebrated not as a feat of the individual, but a triumph of the community itself. I personally came to understand this in the spring of this past year. I had recently been fortunate enough to win a scholarship and word of my achievement spread like wildfire throughout the family. I could tell that their excitement was genuine because for a few days I received call after call expressing incredibly sincere congratulations. I had sort of expected this though, my family has always celebrated our achievements. It wasn’t until I opened The Italian Tribune a couple weeks later that I really knew how real their elation was. After about a minute of skimming I turned a page to see my face underneath the headline “Italian American Wins Prestigious Scholarship.” A short article followed about the nature of the scholarship and a little description of the family that I came from. I was shocked to see myself in the paper. I did not expect that sort of recognition for my achievements. I sat in awe for a couple more minutes before it dawned on me that my Aunt Elaine must have written the article.

At first I could not understand why she had done that. Why would she want the rest of the community to know? Sure, as the matriarch of the family she was one of the proudest of my achievement, but she was never the type to brag. It wasn’t until I asked her why she wrote it that I understood. She told me “Giuseppe, when I was your age if someone received such an honor every family in the neighborhood would know. You couldn’t walk to school in the morning without people yelling congratulations at you from across the street. There was unity throughout the neighborhood; this is something we have lost.” We lost that unity for a host of reasons. As time went on the tight knit communities that the immigrants originally lived in spread out. The generation that was from Italy faded with the time as well. In many cases, the traditions that families had practiced seemed to slip between the cracks.

These traditions are so important because they are the magnet that pulls people together. As the family matriarch it was my Aunt Elaine’s job to preserve our tradition. She wrote that article because she wanted to bring back a time when the community was as close as it was. She wanted to give me a glimpse of the world she grew up in and was trying to preserve in the hopes I would understand why. I know why she did that. One day I will find myself in her shoes. Maintaining a strong family and community will be even harder than it is today. I believe that that world will be even more disconnected than it already is; the irony of the communication age. I believe that in that world we will need tradition more than ever. In that disconnected world some form of unity with past generations it provides such a unique world view. It provides an explanation of how you came to be where you are. It provides a way to reflect on every single thing that makes you the person you are and with that understanding comes the ability to foresee just maybe where you’re going. I believe tradition is one of the most instinctual human necessities, and partaking in anything less leaves us lost in a very large world.

The language that we use and the tradition that we keep are a part of what binds us together as a community. They reinforce my community by existing as common ground between me and the people I love. The strength of that community is so important because it is a support structure in my life. It is something I can always rely on. Having that comfort as a constant is so vital because challenging adversity is very tough on your own. That community was created because it was necessary to the large numbers of Italians that came to the US to face somewhat harsh conditions. The community expanded and strengthened to ensure the survival of the people and of the culture that they came over with. It has changed a lot since coming to the US, but all cultures do. I believe many Italian Americans are moving away from this in the last generation or so due to the changing of the times. This is why I believe my family has made such an emphasis to preserve it in the hopes that I will understand its value and preserve it too for my family. A family and community bound together by the same values, same traditions, and same love has a much higher chance of surviving in this world than a community without them. Mangia!


2015 First-Year Writing Awards | Honorable Mention for the category of "Best Essay"
Student: Christopher Raia; Instructor: Barbara Presnell

For a long period of my life, I was completely unaware of my uncle’s sexual preference of men. My uncle has had a boyfriend longer than I’ve been born, 42 years to be exact, but I just thought of him as my other uncle. I was too young and immature to ever realize that they were partners and as I matured, I began to put the pieces together. Not until recently did I discover the truth about my uncle’s past. My uncle, Phil Raia, was not only a strong believer in gay rights, but also a relatively successful gay activist.

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2015 First-Year Writing Awards | Winner for the category of "Essay"
Student: Amanda Withrow; Instructor: Jessica Camargo

“I had a motorcycle wreck. I woke up in a hospital bed. There were many nurses, doctors, technicians, and tests that I had to try and make sense of. There was no way to remember all the names and technical terms I was told, but I gathered that I had been there for several days before regaining consciousness. All the medical personnel seemed to say I was very lucky to be alive and that I had been in a coma for several days. I subsequently found out that I had been in the vegetative state for nine days” (W. Withrow).  This is the situation William Withrow found himself in one fateful day when he was thirty-five. What he thought would be a normal ride home from work turned into a life-altering accident."

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2015 First-Year Writing Awards | Honorable Mention for the category of "Portfolio"
Student: Dylan Crotteau; Instructor: Meaghan Rand

This website is a portfolio of all of my work along with my interpretation of it. I have posted everything from daily assignments all the way to major projects. While creating this portfolio, I realized how much I had written throughout the semester. I think it is important to reflect on what you write because you force your self to think of better ways to do something. It is also important to share your work with other people; you need to have a cultured look, so to speak. If a lot of people review your work and they give you feedback, you will improve as a writer. Within this portfolio is a "comments" section, so in case you were not one of the select people who has reviewed my work, you can leave your own thoughtful and, hopefully, well crafted comments on the last tab. I hope you enjoy reading my work as much as I enjoyed creating it. 

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2015 First-Year Writing Awards | Honorable Mention for the category of "Best Portfolio"
Student: Kristin Smoot; Instructor: Cat Mahaffey
2015 First-Year Writing Awards | Winner for the category of "Best Portfolio"
Student: Katherine Finch; Instructor: Meaghan Rand


2014 First-Year Writing Awards | Honorable Mention for the category of "Best Multimodal"
Students: Shelby Benton, Benjamin Cobb, Victoria Roy, Lauren Strickland; Instructor: Tonya Wertz; Orbaugh