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Outstanding Major Award

Carol Lipson Outstanding Writing Major Award

The Carol Lipson Outstanding Writing Major Award was established in 2008 to acknowledge 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 2022 - Alesandra “Sasha” Temerte


Alesandra “Sasha” Temerte is the winner of the 2023 Carol Lipson Outstanding Writing Major Award.

At the award ceremony, Temerte said, “I believe a pen and a voice are the keys to enacting change, empowering others, and unlocking freedom. Words linger with impact when nothing else does.

“As a dedicated storyteller, I am extremely grateful to be the recipient of the Carol Lipson Outstanding Writing Major award and even more grateful to the Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition department for creating an academic environment that feels like home.

“Through my studies, I have discovered a passion for creative nonfiction, copywriting, and multimedia storytelling as vehicles to tell meaningful narratives.

“I would first like to express my appreciation for Eileen Schell, the professor who has mentored me all these years. From Writing the Journey freshman year to advising my 88-page thesis senior year, Professor Schell has been transformative in my growth as a writer.

“I would also like to thank the other Writing and Rhetoric professors who have supported me, including Krista Kennedy, George Rhinehart, Rebecca Moore Howard, Joshua Wood, and my thesis reader, Kevin Adonis Browne. You all have challenged me to think more critically about the rhetoric that surrounds us each day and stretched the boundaries of my creativity. Finally, thank you to Jonathan Dee from the Creative Writing department for re-inspiring me to write fiction and Cedric Bolton from Verbal Blend for giving me the creative space to evolve my poetry.

“You all have read the words that matter most to me—thank you.”


[Director of Undergraduate Studies Jonna Gilfus presents the 2023 Carol Lipson Outstanding Writing Major Award to Alesandra “Sasha” Temerte.]

In nominating Sasha as a University Scholar, Professor Eileen E. Schell wrote, “Sasha, as a student, combines a rare mix of research acumen, creativity, entrepreneurialism, language aptitude, and a passion for cultural exploration. While Sasha is a poet and a writer, majoring in Writing and Rhetoric, she is also a double major in Economics, with minors in Spanish and Strategic Management, which means she balances her artistic and entrepreneurial impulses in productive ways. She is a Coronat Scholar, a Remembrance Scholar, and she is, in all ways, a high-achieving intellectual, but she is more than that—she betters the conversation wherever she is.

“Currently I am supervising her Honors and Writing and Rhetoric Distinction thesis “At the Crossroads of Culture,” which is a researched creative nonfiction exploration of growing up in her multicultural, bilingual family. Sasha’s work involves creative nonfiction, cultural analysis, and extensive research and reading about the topic of cross-cultural understanding and its enhancement of creativity and preparation for an increasing transnational world. In the project, she also seeks to explore the varied sites of her cultural heritage.


[Professor Eileen E. Schell congratulates Alesandra “Sasha” Temerte.]

“Sasha is not only a remarkable student , but she is able to translate that excellence into helping other students. She has served as a class tutor for Macroeconomics. She has also tutored high school and middle school students in Math, English, and Spanish. She served as a peer facilitator for the First-year Seminar in Fall 2020. Focusing on mentoring and supporting other students is something I see her doing both outside of class and inside class. Her feedback on other students’ writing in collaborative writing workshops is more that of a professor than a peer in its mastery and insight.

“Sasha is one of the reasons that teaching at Syracuse University is so rewarding and exciting.”—Eileen E. Schell , Professor of Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition

Additional words about Sasha:

“Sasha Temerte's thesis was a joy to read, not merely because it was competent or serves as a testament to the strength of the Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition department. These things are certainly true, but joy doesn't come merely from our students' rising to the challenge we have set for them—the major is strong, our students are often excellent. The thesis itself was a reminder of the work writing at the intersection of rhetoric and culture can do for the mind and the heart. Blending traditions of writing and her deep heritage, Sasha possesses the courage to explore the unknown, and the character to see it through. To read the work was to be reminded of what inspiration looks like when placed in practice—what it means to be and live and work in the world. It is my loss that I only met her as she is about to leave our program and embark on new adventures of the mind and the word. But it is to our collective benefit that we can look forward with confidence to the depth and sensitivity her adventures will most certainly yield. Congratulations to her!”—Kevin Adonis Browne, Associate Professor of Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition

Sasha is a remarkable thinker and a delight to have in a classroom community. Her work handily bridges written and visual composition, narrative and data-based thinking. Her ability to communicate abstract ideas alongside technical data in ways that are instructive and persuasive is extraordinary.—Krista Kennedy, Associate Professor of Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition

Sasha is exactly the sort of student you want in a classroom. While she always contributes her own astute insights, she also is always ready to respond to her colleagues, engaging and amplifying their ideas. She is supportive of other folks' projects, ready to help in peer review and recommend resources.—Rebecca Moore Howard, Professor Emerita

“Sasha is an exceptional student and writer. In my WRT 302 (Digital Writing), she was so impressive from day one (as a sophomore) that I asked her to go first of a series of presentations because I knew that she would set the bar high; she did. She also handled the abrupt transition to online learning in March 2020 with extraordinary poise. In WRT 307 (Professional Writing), she produced polished work from the first assignment and provided leadership to her final project group even though she was the one operating in a different time zone . . . . I am also amazed by her range as a student and future professional . . . .” —George Rhinehart, Assistant Director for Writing Technologies

“Sasha is the kind of student that makes class enjoyable for everyone involved. She displayed a natural curiosity, and a mind that excels at wrestling with new ideas. Her contributions to class discussions and group activities are a ray of light, and are guaranteed to elevate conversation and send it in new directions. Her writing and media work showcases the different ways she can engage with ideas. Whether in a traditional essay or in designing and coding her own game, Sasha has an ability to tell a story in whatever medium is presented to her. Through it all, her grace and adaptability stand out.” —Josh Wood, Assistant Teaching Professor of Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition

Outstanding Major 2022 - Ashley Clemens

Ashley Clemens portrait.

Ashley Clemens is the winner of the 2022 Carol Lipson Outstanding Writing Major Award.

In accepting the prize at the award presentation, Clemens said, “Freshman year, I thought I was going to study biotechnology, but as soon as I took Intro to Creative Nonfiction, I was hooked. Writing has taught me so much about self-expression, persuasion, empathy, and how to truly listen to one another–a skill I think our world needs a bit more of. Compassionate, intelligent, and patient professors make this program as strong as it is, and one that I am so grateful to be a part of.” Read more about the 2022 Outstanding Writing Major Award recipient.

Outstanding Major 2021 - Aaquilah Wright

A woman posing at sunset

“Aaquilah never writes anything without having something to say. Relentlessly inquisitive and having an infectious enthusiasm for new ideas, she fearlessly questions orthodoxies and pushes boundaries in her thinking and in her writing. This has led her to produce work that has been challenging, original and stylistically innovative. Aaquilah has been among the best student writers with whom I have worked.”—Tony Scott, Associate Professor, Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition. more

Outstanding Major 2020— Amelia Lefevre

Amelia Lefevre

“I am so honored to receive this award. As a single mom who is also working to support myself through school, I do not have the capacity to participate and lead in extra-curriculars like so many of the excellent students in this department. However, I am devoted to my work in Writing & Rhetoric and I feel extremely grateful and honored to receive this recognition. more

Outstanding Major 2019—Abigail Covington


“This award is a great honor! I sincerely appreciate the faculty and staff that nominated and supported me. My time in the Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition Department has been bolstered by classes and professors that genuinely care about the well-being and personal development of their students. Their encouragement combined with the strength of the stories of my mother and grandmothers allowed my writing to truly take shape. I have been retelling the narratives I grew up listening to. The characters may have changed over time, but the themes always remained the same. I am proud that the stories of my ancestors combined with the power of my pen can be honored in such a way. more

Outstanding Major 2018—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. more

Outstanding Major 2017—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