Sunday, December 7, 2008

Braun, Tyner Award Submissions Now Being Accepted

By Noah Essenmacher

The University will recognize student writers across the disciplines by awarding prizes for their work this winter. Two writing awards in particular note the accomplishments of SVSU students.

The Raymond E. Tyner Writing Excellence Award and the Ruth and Ted Braun Awards for Writing Excellence have been a part of SVSU since 1991 and 1997, respectively. The awards are funded by endowments to the SVSU Foundation, and the award selection process is coordinated by Deb Smith, chair of the University Writing Committee. 

The University Writing Program’s Web site says the Braun Awards “have been established to create incentives for outstanding student writing and opportunities for student writers to be recognized and published.” 

The Selection Committee for the Braun Awards includes Diane Boehm, professor of English and director of Instructional Support Programs. Boehm is one of six faculty members from different departments who determine the Braun award winners. 

Boehm said, “My feeling was that if you really want to encourage various kinds of academic expertise, you have to recognize that in some way. When this first started, there were very few academic awards.” 

Students from each of nine categories are recognized with a $250 prize and the publication of their winning pieces in a locally distributed print publication and an online publication available on SVSU’s Web site. Winners are announced at a formal reception. 

Boehm said either Ruth or Ted Braun have attended the reception every year.

“Ruth, I think, especially understands the value of honoring students for academic achievement,” she said, “and I think it was the impetus for things like the Sims Public Speaking and other awards that have come along since then.”

Ruth Braun said, “The new types of writing, as well as the subject matter, make for very interesting reading. It is especially gratifying to learn that some students are actually including a mention of the award on their résumés and applications to grad school.” 

Boehm sees the contest as a rewarding opportunity for students, especially for those who have their work published for the first time.

“But more than that, it is a chance to really affirm their own capabilities and their hard work,” she said.

Kevan Umberfield, a mathematics and history senior, received the Braun Award in 2007 for his contribution to a historical documentary video in the multimedia category.

Umberfield said receiving the award was an honor.

“It’s great to see the University making these efforts to encourage and reward writing,” he said. “Too often, many students consider writing skills to be primarily useful in areas such as English.  It’s wonderful to have the Braun Awards which recognize writing in all areas from the liberal arts, to the sciences, to multimedia.”

Umberfield said that considering the competitive job market and grad school application process, the Braun Award would give him a boost as he finishes his undergraduate career. 

The Tyner award offers three prizes of $100 and a plaque. 

The Selection Committee is comprised of three judges, two from the English department and one from another department. The Tyner Awards categories include fiction, poetry and nonfiction.

Blair Giesken, a creative writing junior, won the Tyner Award last year. 

“Winning this award was the highlight of my educational achievement at Saginaw Valley,” she said. “I felt honored to know that two professors thought highly enough of my work to offer nominations, let alone to win the awards for both [fiction and poetry] categories.”  

Giesken said the Tyner Award is a prestigious award and a gratifying and worthwhile way to recognize hardworking student writers. 

Submissions for both the Braun Awards and the Tyner Awards call for original student work completed since January 1, 2008 and submitted before March 18, 2009. 

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