Aetna First-Year Writing Award

The Aetna First-Year Writing Award, sponsored by the Aetna Chair of Writing, is an award for excellent expository writing/nonfiction composed in a First-Year Writing class at UConn. Winners are awarded cash prizes and publicly recognized at the annual Aetna Celebration of Student Writing. *Please note that the 4th annual ACSW has been canceled due to COVID-19 circumstances. We will endeavor to create a “virtual presence” at this website for all 2021 award winners*

Submissions for student writing completed in FYW courses during Summer 2020, Fall 2020, or Spring 2021 are now open. The deadline for submissions this year is May 14, 2021.

Submissions may be nominated by an instructor or self-nominated. To submit your (student’s) work, please follow the instructions below:

  1. Remove student and instructor names from the paper (names of instructor and student will remain anonymous for committee review).
  2. In place of your name, your PeopleSoft ID number should appear on every page of the paper.
  3. You will need to submit the assignment prompt from the FYW course/instructor as well as the project itself.
  4. Provide your information, your submission, and the assignment prompt from the FYW course/instructor to the 2021 Aetna FYW Award Form.

We look forward to receiving and reading your submissions. Good luck!


Past Recipients

  • First Prize: Emma Walton, “Defining Home in Terms of No-Man’s-Land”
  • Second Prize: Mariah Morneau, “History Repeats Itself”
  • Third Prize: Leah Sobotka, “Boon Island” (Instructor: Sophie Buckner)
  • First Prize: Aliyah Summer Walker, “What Happens in the Weight Room Doesn’t Quite Stay in the Weight Room” (Instructor: Micah Goodrich)
  • Honorable Mention: Damini Chelladurai, “The Innocent Muslim in the Post-9/11 World” (Instructor: Lori Carriere)
  • Honorable Mention: Anna Babbin, “A Dual Grief Paradox: The Unlivable Lives of LGBTQ+Homeless Youth” (Instructor: Tom Deans)
  • First Prize: Joshua Weist, “Corruptive Villainy: Finding the Root of Evil” (Instructor: Melissa Rohrer)
  • First Prize: John Peters, “The Silent Treatment: Have We All Lost Our Voice?” (Instructor: Eleanor Reeds)
  • Second Prize: Marisol Gallo, “Freedom Writers: The ‘Invisible’ Period of Racism in America and Hollywood” (Instructor: Melissa Rohrer)
  • Second Prize: Dominique Martin, “Irene Adler: Making a Statement” (Instructor: Emma Burris-Janssen)
  • First Prize: Michael  Caruso, “Ain’t No Whig o’ Mine: Sir Robert Walpole, the South Sea Bubble, and a Pissed Irishman” (Instructor: Erick Piller)
  • First Prize: William Lanzoni, “Dockers Define Manhood”  (Instructor: Kate Gross)
  • Second Prize: Zachary Stack, “The Unconscious Vampire” (Instructor: Denise Lovett)
  • First Prize: Antonio Rivera, “The Silent Treatment: Have We All Lost Our Voice?” (Instructor: Samuel Robinson)
  • Honorable Mention: Marcey Lewin, “Curious About Curiosity: An Investigation” (Instructor: Roberta Marggraff)
  • Honorable Mention: Tanner Rathbone, “Fragmentation and Its Positive Effects on Mentally Ill Patients” (Instructor: Alaina Kaus)
  • First Prize: Kaley Kruger, “Empirical Reality to Authenticity: Joyce’s Development of the Work of Art in The Dead” (Instructor: Michael Bartch)
  • Second Prize: Coree Charette, “The Truth” (Instructor: Maria Seger)
  • Third Prize: Emili Mahon, “The Redefining of ‘Separate Spheres’” (Instructor: Maria Seger)
  • First Prize: Christian Gibney, “Profile of a Hero: Rorschach” (Instructor: Kisha Tracy)
  • First Prize: Lisa Ruohoniemi, “History and Heritage: Telling the Story of a Nation Through a Single Soul” (Instructor: Lynn Z. Bloom)
  • Honorable Mention: Janine Johnson, “The Effects of Sexism and Racism in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye” (Instructor: Abbye Meyer)
  • First Prize: Zach Dorn, “Night of the Living Post-Modernist” (Instructor: Eva Teague)
  • Second Prize: Stephen Corbo, “A Different Type of Panopticon: Fight Club” (Instructor: Kristi Garvin)
  • Third Prize: Kerri Fenton, “Nature and Ecocriticism in Fahrenheit 451” (Instructor: Patricia Taylor)
  • Honorable Mention: Thomas Dimauro, “On My Honor: Narrative of an Eagle Scout” (Instructor: Sean Forbes)
  • First Prize: Lauren Silber, “Forces of Creativity Surpassed for a Greater Purpose” (Instructor: Abbye Meyer)
  • Second Prize: Kerry Smith, “Funding Distribution of the Endangered Species Act” (Instructor: Corey Mahoney)
  • Third Prize: Caitlin Cuskley, “Unearthing a Voice: Releasing the Creativity of the Women of the Past” (Instructor: Abbye Meyer)
  • Honorable Mention: Brian Kelly, “Guernica: Capturing the Essence of War” (Instructor: Trudi Bird)