The Writing Excellence Awards are given annually to encourage and reward good writing in all disciplines. The contest opens in January each year (for papers written in the previous calendar year for courses taken at the University of Puget Sound). Winners are usually announced in April. The Writing Excellence Awards are funded by the Hearst Endowment for Writing, established through grants from the Hearst Foundation.  The submission deadline for this year's competition is Friday, February 9, 2024.

For the 2024 competition, a total of ten prizes ($250 each) will be awarded for papers written in the 2023 calendar year:  

  • Two prizes in each category: Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • One prize each for First-year Seminars, Connections, and Graduate Programs
  • One prize for a paper written on a topic related to race and pedagogy, regardless of the course in which it was written.

Submission category details

Rules for the Contest

Papers written as part of the requirement for courses taken at the University of Puget Sound during Spring, Summer, or Fall of the previous calendar year are eligible during each round of the competition. Papers of any length may be submitted; short papers are as likely to win as long ones.

Students may submit no more than one paper in each category. The same paper may be submitted to two categories only if one of the categories is the Race and Pedagogy category. 

See detailed instructions here.


If you have any questions about the process or the prizes, please contact Professor Lea Fortmann ( 

Award announcements

Results of the competition are announced in April, and award winners in each category will be honored at an academic celebration toward the end of the spring semester.  Congratulations to all of the winners!

The award-winning papers from 2024 (written in 2023) are as follows:

 Arts and Humanities​

Mariah Canton, "Storytelling, Grief, and Relationality in the Midst of Past and Present Extinctions," written for REL 444 with Prof. Sam Kigar

Alyssa Shane, "Securing Femininity: The Life of a 'Belt for a Lady’s Dress'," written for HIST 305 with Prof. Katherine Smith


Julian Cañeda-Santos, "Critiquing the Reinforcement of the White Racial Frame in Greek Fraternities," written for AFAM 401 with Prof. Hyunjoo Yu

First-year Seminars

Nainoa Ohata, "Chinese-American: A Reconstruction of the Creation of American Identity," written for SSI1 105 with Prof. Tiffany MacBain

Graduate Programs

Rebecca Griffith, "Navigating Occupational Injustices through Morgan’s Story," written for OT 601 with Prof. Tatiana Kaminsky

Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Kyra Lee, "Understanding Neuron Dynamics With the FitzHugh-Nagumo Model," written for MATH 301 with Prof. Jake Price

Race and Pedagogy

Tdohasan Sunray, "Little Acts of Giving," written for ENGL 229 with Prof. Priti Joshi

Social Sciences

Evann Schwantes, "Worth The Struggle," written for STHS 100 with Prof. Kristin Johnson

Elias Thiemann, "Pulling His Weight: Reducing Negative Impacts from Paid Family Leave Through Paternity Leave Policies," written for ECON 411 with Prof. Lea Fortmann

Viewing winning papers 

Winning papers from the most recent contest and prior years can be viewed in Sound Ideas, Puget Sound's site for sharing the intellectual and artistic work of Puget Sound students and faculty.  

Departmental writing awards

In addition to the university-wide Writing Excellence Awards, many departments also have departmental writing awards. Students are welcome and encouraged to submit papers to both university-wide and department-specific writing competitions.