Please join us in celebrating our scholarship and writing prize recipients on Sunday, April 21st!

Please join us on Sunday, April 21st in the Alumni Room of the Pyle Center from 4:00-5:30PM to celebrate this year’s scholarship and writing prize recipients as well as the recipients of the Early Career Alumni Awards.

Watch the full list of winners here

Click here for the full program 

The prizewinners are as follows…


The John McMynn Williams Senior Thesis Award

Presented by: Kristina Huang

This award is given to one student for a senior thesis chapter that demonstrates exceptional writing and analytical skills.

Recipient: Holly Puza
Thesis: “Is that how free feels?”: Aesthetic Knowledge in the Neo-Slave Narrative
Instructor: Professor Kristina Huang

The William F. Vilas Prizes

Presented by: Mario Ortiz-Robles and Megan Bailon

These prizes were established by Anna M. Vilas in 1912 and are awarded each year for the two best expository essays written by undergraduates in an upper- level English course.

Recipient: Ria Dhingra
Essay: “Naturalizing” Gender Disparity in the Victorian Era: A Literary Analysis of Female Characterization in Wuthering Heights and Mill on the Floss
Instructor: Professor Mario Ortiz-Robles

Recipient: Sophie Boes
Essay: “Bad Woman” or “Loving Mother Goddess”?: Myth-(Re)making and the Figure of La Llorona in Ana Castillo’s So Far from God
Instructor: Dr. Megan Bailon

McMynn Williams Creative Media Prize

Presented by: Sarah Ensor

This prize recognizes the outstanding use of creative media to express ideas in unique ways, to re-imagine the work of English studies in English classes, and to take advantage of the affordances of emerging media. Projects winning this award demonstrate an understanding of how creative media allow for novel modes of expression, communication, and persuasion.

Recipient: Alice Van Haaften
Project: Roots of Another Kind
Instructor: Professor Sarah Ensor

James T. Lewis Prizes

Presented by: Jackie Chalghin

These prizes were established in 1968 and awarded annually for the two best essays written by first-year students in an English Department course.

Recipient: Lucy Hildebrand
Essay: Grass Lawns in American and Alternative Solutions
Instructor: Jackie Chalghin

Recipient: Jade Park
Essay: Ko-ma-to-rae Stationary Store
Instructor: Aurora Shimshak

Standish Henning Shakespeare Prize

Presented by: Joseph Bowling

This prize was established by Professor Andrew Weiner in recognition of his teacher and colleague Professor Standish Henning. The prize is awarded for the best essay written by an undergraduate in one of the English Department’s upper- level Shakespeare courses.

Recipient: Noelle Candler
Essay: Journeys End in Lovers Meeting: the Compulsory Heterosexuality of Comedy from Twelfth Night to Love Island UK
Instructor: Dr. Joseph Bowling

McMynn Williams Data Analysis Prize

Presented by: Emily Hall

This prize is awarded for an outstanding written project based on the collection and analysis of original data in an upper-level English major course.

Recipient: Gwen Liston
Essay: Queer Intersections in Writing Tutor Practice
Instructor: Dr. Emily Hall

Mary Ellen Williams Golby Writing Prize

This prize is awarded for the best essay or project by a female English major that focuses on social justice, antiracism, or anti-ableism. The essay or project must be from a UW-Madison English course.

Recipient: Katalina Lee
Essay: Eden
Instructor: Professor Sami Shalk

ESL Undergraduate Writing Awards

These awards are for outstanding academic essay writing done by students who are L2, or second language, undergraduate writers. These writers have shown a high level of skill in their argumentation, logic, and use of voice, as well as excellent citation and analysis skills.

Recipient: Hiroaki Taniyama
Presented by: Jenny Wilson-Farley

Recipient: Abigail Wu
Presented by: Shauna Crowther

Recipient: Xingrun Lu
Presented by: Steve Timm

Recipient: Ralista Wong
Presented by: Jenny Wilson-Farley


The Helen C. White Award

Presented by: Ingrid Diran

This award is presented to senior women majoring in the Humanities who exemplify the sterling character of Helen C. White, a great teacher and scholar in the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin, on the basis of academic standing and a deep interest in the life of the community. Donor Ineva Baldwin felt that recipients should have demonstrated their interest in sharing their humanistic culture with their families and community.

Recipient: Ria Dhingra
Recipient: Holly Puza

The Dorothy Classen Urish Scholarship

Presented by: Elaine Cannell

This scholarship was established by Jack Urish, a former English major at UW- Madison, in honor of his mother Dorothy, who was an English teacher in Stoughton, WI. The donor wishes to offer financial support toward the academic success of a senior English major.

Recipient: Kimberly Huete Galeano

Helen Black Bennett Memorial Scholarship

Presented by: Amadi Ozier

This award was established by the donor, Penelope G. Sticha, in honor of her mother, Helen, in 1994.

Recipient: Emily Asmann

Felice Levin Michaels Scholarship

Presented by: David Zimmerman

This award was established by the donor to provide scholarships to undergraduate students in the Department of English.

Recipient: Noah Kohn-Dumbuya

English Undergraduate Scholarships

Presented by: Amy Quan Barry

This scholarship provides financial assistance to deserving undergraduate English majors. Thanks to the generosity of Thomas Johnson ‘73 and Barbara Johnson, the English Department has provided scholarships to students through this fund since 2014.

Recipient: Han Raschka
Recipient: Karissa Richardson

Mary Brabyn Wackman Scholarships

Presented by: Elaine Cannell and Johs Rasmussen

These scholarships were established by Charline M. Wackman, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin in 1961, in honor of her mother, Mary Brabyn Wackman. Awards are based on academic merit and given to English majors who are Wisconsin residents specializing in literature.

Recipient: Noelle Candler
Recipient: Ellie Clark
Recipient: Molly Harris
Recipient: Angela Olen
Recipient: Holly Puza
Recipient: Jaden Schultz
Recipient: Alice Van Haaften

McMynn Williams First-Generation College Student Scholarship

Presented by: Joseph Bowling

The McMynn Williams First-Generation College Student Scholarship recognizes the strength, commitment, and perspective of First-Generation English majors. This scholarship is awarded on the basis of academic merit and an appreciation of the contributions First-Generation students make in the classroom, the department, the university, and the wider community.

Recipient: Haley Laufenberg

Lila Hicks Furber Scholarship

Presented by: Amadi Ozier

This award was established in 1995 by Lila Hicks Furber, who graduated with a degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1926. After graduation, Lila became a teacher.

Recipient: Emily Asmann

Vivian Mowry English Scholarships

Presented by: Ron Kuka, Francesca Bua

These scholarships are funded through a trust established in 1963 by Vivian Mowry, a 1910 graduate of the University of Wisconsin. Awards are made to English majors on the basis of scholastic proficiency and active participation in campus activities.

Recipient: Natalie Bercutt
Recipient: Ria Dhingra
Recipient: Xylina Graf
Recipient: Katalina Lee
Recipient: Gwen Liston
Recipient: Lauren Pickel

Jeffrey Allen Steele Memorial Scholarship

Presented by: Amy Gaeta

This award was established by Jocelyn Riley in 2018 to honor the memory of her husband Jeffrey Allen Steele, a professor in the Department of English, who loved

teaching and focused his research and passion on American Literature, particularly on the author and groundbreaking women’s rights advocate Margaret Fuller. The scholarship assists accomplished undergraduate students who are enrolled in the Department of English, with a preference for those studying American literature.

Recipient: Zara Ammar

Cyrena Pondrom Scholarship

Presented by: Mary Trotter, Johs Rasmussen

This award was established by Julie Bogle who graduated from UW-Madison in 1985 with a BA, majoring in both English and History. While an undergrad, she was a student of Prof. Cyrena Pondrom, who taught modern English literature. Julie was fortunate enough to work with Prof. Pondrom on an independent study project focused on Virginia Woolf. It was a transformative experience. Being exposed to someone as brilliant and insightful as Prof. Pondrom was both intimidating and deeply enriching, truly a life-changing experience. After working in publishing for several years, Julie went on to attend UW Law School, graduating in 1999. Fifth of six children, Julie could afford to attend UW Madison as an undergrad only because she was given the Mary Brabyn Wackman Scholarship.

She is happy to have the ability, through the UW Foundation, to provide a similar opportunity to young English majors today, and to honor the woman who had such a deep influence on her future.

Recipient: Sophie Boes

Recipient: Josie Spata

**Early Career Alumni Awards**

The Early Career Alumni Award recognizes UW-Madison English alumni who have demonstrated exceptional success in their chosen field within the first ten years after obtaining their degree. This can be demonstrated in several ways. Examples include, but are not limited to, professional achievements, contributions to society, service, or support of the University of Wisconsin.

The honorees demonstrate the value that their English education has had on their lives and the rewarding paths that an English major may take initially upon graduation.

Phoebe Kiekhofer, BA English Literature + Gender and Women’s Studies, 2017

Phoebe is a bilingual literacy researcher at the University of Virginia. Phoebe supports projects that emphasize science-based literacy instruction and assessment for multilingual learners. This work includes the revision of the Virginia Literacy Screeners in English and Spanish to include holistic information on students’ decoding abilities and language proficiencies. Through the inclusion of the Spanish screener, the project also aims to equitably assess Spanish-speaking bilingual students and provide valuable information on their language development to best inform literacy instruction. Phoebe also supports elementary literacy curriculum review in conjunction with the

Virginia Literacy Act, which focuses on improving literacy outcomes for students in Virginia by ensuring that instruction is aligned to science-based reading research.

Phoebe received her Master of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins University in 2022, and her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2017. During graduate school, Phoebe worked as an elementary school teacher in a bilingual English-Spanish community in Washington, D.C. Phoebe’s work emphasized evidence-based reading instruction and recovery from pandemic school closures. Phoebe’s graduate education also emphasized qualitative and quantitative work with student literacy data to design and monitor data-based literacy intervention. Prior to attending graduate school, Phoebe served with Reading Partners of DC to provide in-school literacy intervention. While obtaining her undergraduate degree at UW-Madison, Phoebe interned with the Literacy Network, where she facilitated the English adult literacy tutoring program. Phoebe also interned with the Wisconsin Humanities Council, where she assisted with publicizing statewide humanities projects and grant programs.

Phoebe is most passionate about literacy and using her career to establish reading as a Civil Right for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. She is most inspired by all learners with whom she has had the privilege of working.

Outside of her career, Phoebe is a marathon runner, an avid biker, leader of a book club, a mixed-mobility and public transit advocate, and a cat mom.

Gerald Porter Jr., JBA English; Journalism and Mass Communications 2018

Gerald Porter Jr. is an Account Supervisor at The Bliss Group, where he focuses on executive positioning, narrative development, thought leadership content, and media relations for clients such as Korn Ferry and Stanley Black & Decker across the firm’s professional and financial services practices. His previous PR experience includes supporting crisis communications, media relations, and executive positioning for leading financial services and consumer goods brands.

Prior to his PR career, Gerald spent five years reporting at global news outlets. He previously spent three years at Bloomberg News, where he covered consumer packaged goods companies, retailers, the U.S. economy, the Food and Drug Administration, and the White House. In 2020 and 2021, respectively, he was recognized by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) for his coverage of Black businesses and corporate accountability. He began his professional career working at the Chicago Tribune and The Wall Street Journal after a year of studying at the University of Westminster in London.

A Chicago native and Powers-Knapp scholar, Gerald earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He also was a reporter and associate campus news editor for the Badger Herald during his time at UW-Madison.

Cory Sprinkel, BA English, Certificates in Educational Policy Studies and LGBT Studies, 2017

Cory Sprinkel grew up in central Wisconsin and graduated from UW-Madison in 2017 with a degree in English. He currently works as the Community Engaged Scholarship Specialist with the Morgridge Center for Public Service at UW-Madison. His role focuses on elevating support for and understanding of community-engaged scholarship by consulting with researchers and instructors who engage community in their teaching and research. He understands his work as deeply connected to the Wisconsin Idea and is passionate about the public purposes and potential of higher education.

Cory received his Master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of Connecticut, focusing on how community-engaged pedagogies influence student development. He is the co-author of a recently published book, Preparing students to engage in equitable community partnerships (2023) – a guide for college instructors designing community-engaged courses. Cory is also a lead organizer with the Madison-based nonprofit organization, LGBT Books to Prisoners.


With Gratitude

The Department of English wishes to recognize and thank the benefactors of the scholarships and awards we have granted today. Your generosity is sincerely appreciated. Private gifts of all sizes provide us with resources for meaningful enhancements to our program and support of our outstanding students. For more information on making a gift or including the Department in your estate plans, please contact:

Bob Hemauer, Director of Development University of Wisconsin Foundation 1848 University Avenue

Madison, WI 53708-8860