Penn Students Receive Distinction for Publishing Editorials


PHILADELPHIA, PA - April 10, 2019 - The Critical Writing Program of the University of Pennsylvania is proud to announce this year’s winners of The Samuel P. and Ida S. Mandell Prize for Distinguished Critical Writing.

The Mandell prizes are part of the program’s effort to foster informed, civil public discourse. Students in the Critical Writing seminars begin their discipline-based coursework with a deep dive into individual research projects that culminate with an editorial based on that research. Students must choose a “real world” publication for their editorial and are encouraged to submit their final draft to it. “Among other things, the curriculum gives us a window into the interests and concerns of this generation,” Valerie Ross, director of the program, observes.

This year’s Mandell Prizes recognize students who successfully brought their voices and research into the public sphere. John Geyer’s first place entry, “Affirmative action should be welcomed,” was published in Enquirer (USA Today) and was written for Dr. Amy Brown’s writing seminar, “Ameritocracy.”

Sophie Weich’s second place entry, “City Dwellers Should Take Time to Visit Nature,” was published by the award-winning website, National Parks Traveler. Weich noted her that her writing seminar, “Physics of Everyday Life,” taught by Dr. John Kehayias, was the “first class I’d ever had that prioritized learning to write in ways that apply to real life, and added, “I know the skills I learned will be applicable to any future writing I do after college.” Spencer Kersh, writing about creating micro-units for newly-employed millennials, explained the value of this assignment, noting, “Perhaps the most important lesson I have gleaned from my semester in Professor Argaman’s writing seminar revealed itself nearly a year after my editorial submission to Crain’s New York Business, when my submission was finally accepted for print publication.”

Roberta Nin Feliz wrote her essay, “History and Legacies of Resistance in Black Women’s Music,” on the topic readings and research for Dr. Sara Byala’s writing seminar, “Africa is not a country.” Nin Feliz later expanded and, with help from Dr. Byala, edited and published the piece, including new insights she had gained from another course she had taken that semester with Dr. Grace Johnson on black feminist history.

Val Ross, Director of the Critical Writing Program, remarks, “We are proud of our students’ accomplishments and grateful to the Mandells for their generous support of excellence in writing.” his year’s award winners are:

Prizes for Distinguished Work Produced in a Critical Writing Seminar

Prize for Distinguished Work Initiated in a Seminar ($500)

Honorable Mentions ($100)

The contestants and their writing professors will be recognized during a luncheon in their honor on Friday, May 3rd at Pattaya Thai in University City.

For more information on The Critical Writing Program:

For more information on the Mandell Prize:

Contact: Dr. Valerie Ross, Director
Critical Writing Program
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 573-2927


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