First Year Writing Prize Finalists and Winners – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

First Year Writing Prize Finalists and Winners

Center for Teaching and Learning and Writing Colleagues Program presented the 10th annual First Year Writing Prize, with Sophia Mughal ’25 as winner.

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) and Writing Colleagues Program presented the 10th annual First Year Writing Prize in the Common Room in Scandling Campus Center on April 6. After an impressive nomination and application cycle, the ceremony honored 14 finalists, four honorable mentions and this year’s winner – Sophia Mughal ’25.

The contest invites faculty members to nominate pieces written by their students that are considered exceptional. The nominees are encouraged to revise their texts by engaging with faculty, Writing Colleagues and Writing Fellows. By offering students the opportunity to revisit work from a previous semester, the contest hopes to demonstrate writing as a process and a collaborative endeavor.

The finalists for the First-Year Writing Prize.

Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric Hannah Dickinson, the Writing Colleagues Program co-director, says this collection of student writing showcases an extraordinary assortment of intellectual achievement across disciplines at the Colleges. Mughal won for her essay “Examining the Israel-Palestine Conflict from the ‘Moral’ Point of View,” nominated by Professor of Religious Studies Michael Dobkowski. Honorable mentions included essays nominated by professors in the Departments of Geoscience, English, Writing and Rhetoric, and Environmental Studies.

Mughal’s submission addresses the Israel/Palestine conflict by pulling from class texts and guest speaker testimonials, as well as integrating components of pragmatism to her grounded approach.

“I attempted to evaluate the historical and current dimensions of the conflict and propose solutions that would promote peace,” says Mughal. The piece was finalized after Mughal received feedback from Dobkowski, followed by a collaborative revisionary process with Writing Fellow Blair Reilly ’22.

“I think this recognition helps bring together a diverse community of writers on campus who have different academic focuses and interests, and to celebrate achievement in their respective fields,” Mughal says.

The First Year Writing Prize is supported by Suzanne Rutstein ’95, P’23 and Charles Rutstein ’94, P’23, who generously established the Rutstein Fund in Support of Writing Excellence in 2021.

On April 19-21, a 48-hour fundraising campaign raised $28,043 to support the Writing Colleagues Program. A leadership gift of $15,000 was made by the Rutstein family. Visit the Give Write Now page to watch video messages from Writing Colleagues, co-directors of the program, and faculty who have utilized Writing Colleagues in their classrooms.

In the photo above, Sophia Mughal ’25 receives the First Year Writing Prize. Professor of Religious Studies Michael Dobkowski reads his nomination.