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Department of Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition

Carol Lipson Outstanding Writing Major Award

The Carol Lipson Outstanding Writing Major Award was established in 2008 to acknowlege the contributions of former Writing Program Director Carol Lipson. Professor Lipson was director (2003-2007) during the development and approval of the Writing and Rhetoric Major and retired in 2009.

The Outstanding Writing Major Award is given annually to a student with a strong record in both academics and departmental/community service. The student receives recognition at the Intertext awards ceremony in early May and also in the commencement program. The Writing Program Director/Chair and the Chair of the Major/Minor Committee make the final decision, based heavily upon faculty and staff recommendations.


Outstanding Major 2018—Elizabeth Elton

Elizabeth Elton

"My passion for writing began in grade school but was mostly isolated to creative writing and literary analysis. Still, there were times when my teachers assigned rhetorical writing assignments. In those moments, I found myself fervently arguing and reveling in the act of using my words in order to illuminate relevant issues to my audience. When I transferred from an English Education major at another university to SU, I knew that I wanted to keep writing as part of my major somehow. I joined the Writing and Rhetoric Major because I knew that it would challenge and expand my abilities as a writer. Through the major, I found a deeper passion for research through writing. I found a love in the act of discovery through writing, and I found wonder in the arrangement of words to reach an audience.

And so, I feel truly honored and humbled to be recognized with this award—especially when I consider the rigor of the Writing & Rhetoric Major. more


Outstanding Major 2017—Sakura Tomizawa

Sakura Tomizawa

I’m so grateful and honored to have won this award. This award is also really a celebration of all the faculty and staff in the Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition Studies department who provide all these opportunities for their students to thrive and learn! I admire and look up to each and every one of them, and it’s a department that I’m proud to represent. I switched over to the Writing & Rhetoric major my sophomore year.

To be honest, I was feeling a little lost after finishing my freshman year as a film major, and uncertain of what kind of career I wanted to pursue. I chose the Writing and Rhetoric major because I knew I liked to write, but  . . . . more


Outstanding Major 2016—Morgan Conover

"I am truly humbled and honored to receive this award. Whenever I tell people I'm a Writing Major, they always say, "Oh, so like English?" I love using that opportunity to explain what the writing major is all about. Writing is a crucial skill for, well, everything. So knowledge of how to write well, and also how to read others' writing well, is essential. I genuinely believe that the Writing Program does incredibly important work. I am so proud to be a part of it." —Morgan Conover

In nominating Morgan Conover for the 2016 Carol Lipson Outstanding Writing Major Award, Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition chair Lois Agnew writes, "Her intellectual curiosity and thoughtful engagement with important questions are evident in her coursework. Her work in my WRT 424 course was stellar. She was thoroughly prepared for each class, engaged critically with challenging readings and topics of inquiry, and continually pushed herself as a writer and thinker." more


Outstanding Major 2015—Johnathan McClintick

"I was very blind-sided and very humbled when I learned I was going to receive the award. I was sure it would have gone to one of my peers; there were so many great, inspiring students in the 2015 graduating class. When I accepted the award, I tried to credit my peers as much as possible, trying to really give it back to them as much as a I could—it was an immense honor, and I felt very grateful to the program as a whole for it . . . . I want to leave a special shout out for everyone on the original WRSO E-Board, first and foremost. Plus Patrick Berry and Eileen Schell for being great advisers (even if Patrick always did it in an unofficial capacity) and John Colasacco for being a great friend and writing mentor."  

In nominating Johnathan, Professor Eileen Schell wrote, "It is rare that we allow any undergraduate students to take our doctoral seminars, so Johnathan's presence in my seminar demonstrates how greatly I believe in his abilities." more


The Right Place: Outstanding Major 2014

"If someone had told me entering freshman year that I would graduate SU with a major in Writing and Rhetoric and a minor in LGBT Studies, I don't think I would have believed them," says 2014 Carol Lipson Outstanding Writing Major Award recipient Nicky Zamoida.

Nicky came to Syracuse University as an Entrepreneurship major and a Music Industry minor with the goal of founding and running her own recording label. However, she says, she discovered that business was not her forte and found herself struggling with a decision to either transfer to another college within the university or leave SU altogether. Nicky credits Emily Luther, her WRT 105 instructor, with helping her decide to stay and declare a major in Writing & Rhetoric. "I found a mentor early on," she says, "and stayed in touch with her during my four years, and the new home I found in the Writing Program was undoubtedly due, in large part, to her support and encouragement to do what I love." more


Finding a Home: Outstanding Major 2013

Jayme Brown came to Syracuse University to be a broadcast journalist; she says that the plan was that someday she would sit behind the ESPN SportsCenter desk and yell about the New York Yankees. Instead, Jayme found her way to the Writing & Rhetoric major, and in 2013 she was awarded the Carol Lipson Award for Outstanding Major.  

Jayme’s introduction to the major came when she was a sophomore in Writing Program Director and Chair Lois Agnew’s Style (WRT 308) course. Agnew describes Jayme as an exceptional student: “I was delighted by the pleasure she took in working with language, her determination to expand her range as a writer with each assignment, and the care she took with each word she wrote.” Though Jayme was nervous to be in a class with juniors and seniors, she says that Agnew made her feel like she belonged in both the classroom and the major. “Dr. Agnew spent time with me one-on-one and told me I was a better writer at nineteen than she had been. I didn’t believe her—and still don’t, for the record—but it was the shock of confidence that I needed. I was in the right place.” more


What It Means: Outstanding Major 2012

Benjamin Zender describes his first Writing course as “scary, rewarding, and thrilling.” That course, a Maymester creative nonfiction class with Professor Minnie Bruce Pratt, taught him to approach his own writing differently. “It was just so freeing,” Benjamin says. “For the first time I was typing furiously without hitting the backspace key a million times. And by the end of it I had produced things that I was proud of and that spoke to me.” Benjamin soon declared a major in Writing & Rhetoric, and in 2012 he became the recipient of the Carol Lipson Award for Outstanding Major. 

Currently a Senior Administrator in the Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute at SU, Benjamin hopes to someday become a professor in the humanities. His ideal position would be interdisciplinary in nature, and he says that the interdisciplinary aspect of the Writing & Rhetoric major was part of what appealed to him. As an undergraduate, Benjamin took courses in Writing, Communication & Rhetorical Studies, and LGBT Studies, among others disciplines. He even took a few graduate-level courses, and he notes that the opportunity to “work up” to the graduate level made him care more about his writing and more excited about academia in general.more


Seeking Connections: Outstanding Major 2011

Kuan Luo, recipient of the 2011 Carol Lipson Award for Outstanding Major, has focused on seeking connections with her Writing and Rhetoric degree. As a 2011 graduate from Syracuse with a double major in Graphic Design and Writing and Rhetoric, Kuan has learned the art of multitasking.  

Having juggled the demands for both majors, Kuan says, “The most powerful and valuable thing I learned at Syracuse is how to find connections between multiple seemingly irrelevant ideas, and studying Writing and Rhetoric and Graphic Design helped me tremendously in understanding that those connections are sources of creative ideas.

Kuan currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, where she connects her Writing and Rhetoric and Graphic Design majors as a graphic design intern. Still learning and with the same thirst for knowledge, Kuan remembers her time at Syracuse as an opportunity for academic growth.  She reminisces on how she became interested in the Writing Program . . . . more


Anything I Want:Outstanding Major 2010

When skeptics asked Kim Wolfe, the recipient of the 2010 Carol Lipson Award for Outstanding Major, what she could do with a degree in Writing and Rhetoric, her answer was clear: "Anything I want." And since declaring the major, she has done plenty.

Kim says that she became involved with the Writing & Rhetoric major "by mistake." Carol Lipson, for whom the Outstanding Major award is named, was Kim's freshman year advisor. Lipson's encouragement and advice were instrumental in Kim's choice to pursue a degree in the field. However, it wasn't an easy sell; although Kim had written journals and other creative pieces for most of her life, she still wasn't sure that the major was for her. She attributes part of her decision to pursue Writing & Rhetoric to the persuasive ability of Writing Program Director Eileen Schell. "Eileen really convinced me that creative nonfiction was the way to go." more


What Could Be Better?: Outstanding Major 2009

A year ago, Caitlin Heikkila was an SU senior spending most of her time attending class, writing papers, and applying for jobs. Now she lives in New York, works in marketing, and attributes much of her success to her experiences and opportunities as a Writing and Rhetoric major.

According to Caitlin, it's easy to spot a Writing major. In a piece she read—"The Top 5 Signs You Are a Writing Major"—upon receiving the Carol Lipson Award for Outstanding Major, Caitlin facetiously explained that Writing majors suffer from carpal tunnel as a result of spending excessive time at a keyboard, and struggle with the urge to "grammar-police" their friends.

Caitlin's humorous piece got a lot of laughs, but it also made it clear that students who declare the new Writing and Rhetoric major are part of a campus community in which they are challenged to think critically both inside and outside of the classroom. more


Ground Breaker: Outstanding Major 2008

Mary Gallagher's resume is an impressive mix of internships, fellowships, and professional development experience. But it makes one thing very clear: she is not afraid to break ground. And as the first Writing & Rhetoric major to graduate from SU, that's just what Mary has done.

Mary made history in May, but she also accomplished a great deal while she was a student. A Chancellor's Scholar who made the Dean's List every semester, she also participated in the Renee Crown Honors Program and served on the Executive Board of OrangeSeeds, a leadership empowerment program for first-year students. more