View the digital book that includes writing from this year’s nominees and award winners.

Eleven students have been awarded the 2021-22 Paul W. Ward ’25 Memorial Prize for excellence in first-year writing. The Ward Prize, which is endowed through the Writing and Rhetoric Program and sponsored by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research, recognizes students who have produced outstanding essays in writing classes during the academic year.

A review committee of three faculty members and one student judged the nominations. Committee members included Sebnem Gumusco, associate professor of political science; Greg Pask, assistant professor of biology; Genie Giaimo, assistant professor of writing and rhetoric and Ward Prize chair; and Bel Spelman ‘23, English major and senior writing tutor.

This year the committee received 29 submissions. Of those, eight were highlighted as standouts, including a project by a team of four students. A celebration of all student writers (and many faculty nominees) took place on January 19, 2023.

The 2021-22 Ward Prize awardees are:

Jack Barnhart ‘25, nominated by Professors Stacie Cassarino and Daniel Fram
Casandra Dormeus ‘25, nominated by Professor Stacie Cassarino
Carolina Garcia ‘25, nominated by Professor Susan DeSimone
Tessa Husted ‘25, nominated by Professor Karin Gottshall
Bea Parr ‘25, nominated by Professor Edward Vazquez
Meera Patel ‘25, nominated by Professor Catharine Wright
Vivian Syengo ‘25, nominated by Professor Genie Giaimo
Melody Lopez, Jack Martell, Thomas Perry, Penelope Weekes ‘25, nominated by Professor Katherine O’Brien

Prior to 2020, the awards went to one winner and two runners-up. The committee now selects several nominees to receive the prize, allowing for a broader range of writing styles and disciplines to be considered and recognized. 

Nominees and award winners are featured in a digital book that includes a full list and writing from Ward Prize nominees. This year included the first collaboratively written group project (in science communication) nominated for a prize.

The Ward Prize is named in honor of Paul W. Ward, a graduate of the Class of 1925, whose lifelong career as a journalist and diplomatic reporter brought him both the Pulitzer Prize and the French Legion of Honor. Throughout his career, he emphasized the use of basic English as a writer’s most necessary tool.

Middlebury faculty can nominate student writing from the Class of 2026 through June 16, 2023 at