Writing Program Awards

Since 2003, The Writing Program has recognized Lectors, Interns, and Tutors who have been highly regarded by students and faculty for exceptional teaching. We recognize selected staff every academic year with three types of awards:

  • The Karen DiNal Memorial Award recognizes Writing Interns and Writing Specialists who have been exceptional instructors to first-year students in CORE courses.
  • The Francis X. Kinahan Memorial Award recognizes Lectors who have proven exceptional instructors in Academic and Professional Writing (“Little Red Schoolhouse”).
  • The College Core Writing Tutor Award recognizes Writing Tutors who have been outstanding tutors to students throughout the academic year.

The Writing Program typically gives two awards per category – one to a new staff member and another to a more experienced staff member.

The Karen DiNal Memorial Award

The Karen DiNal Memorial Award is in honor of Karen DiNal, a beloved long-time intern and assistant director who died, very prematurely, after a long illness. She was a sympathetic and insightful mentor to undergraduate and graduate students and an innovative teacher; her work with new instructors set an example of productive and supportive mentoring that has been an inspiration to the Writing Program ever since.

As a result, the award recognizes two Writing Interns and/or Writing Specialists who have proven exceptional teachers and mentors to first-year students in College CORE writing seminars.


Scott Jung

Scott was extremely helpful and patient. He is consistently personable and always attentive; he does a great job creating an inclusive space where everyone feels safe to speak up. You can tell he loves his job and truly has the student’s best interests at heart.”

Karen Xu

“Her comments on my essays are also helpfully critical and in depth, encompassing both suggestions and encouragement; I am very grateful for the time and help that she invests in each student in our writing seminar. I truly think that her written comments were what helped me grow the most as a writer this quarter.”


Anne Monique Pace

The feedback was useful in pointing out general areas that needed to be fixed (such as argumentation, organization, specificity) and small changes (wording, analyzing evidence)… She gave food for thought, which helped me consider complexities without forcing me to adapt to her ideas.”

Nathan Smith

“My understanding of how to derive evidence and utilize it to support my claim has dramatically improved. Additionally, my ability to organize and structure evidence has grown significantly.”


Abigail Hill

Her seminar style worked very well, especially when she altered the last seminar to a one-on-one session so that students could get more freedom of what they wanted to work on with her.”

Karen Xu

“Karen is a fantastic Writing Intern. She makes everyone comfortable giving feedback and provides constructive criticism in a way that allows us to understand exactly what she’s talking about.”


David Hogue

“I have taught ten (I think) Media Aesthetics courses, and David is one of the best writing interns I’ve had, despite this being his first time in the role…. Throughout, he has been professional, effective, and warm and welcoming to the students.”

Scout Wilson

“Scout’s attention to detail and his seriousness about their work brought the students to see their own work in new ways. His good humor, humanity and knowledge definitely improved the class.”


Alia Breitwiser

“Alia worked extremely hard and went above and beyond what was required of her in order to help students improve their writing and thinking. Not only did she help them improve but she motivated them to improve on their own. Alia is by far the best Writing Intern I’ve had since beginning to teach in the Core.”

Stephanie Palazzo

“She has a great deal to offer and the students — and I — always learned from her interventions. Stephanie has been a superb partner for me this year. She is a great role model for students. The class was better thanks to her presence.”


Cathleen Chopra-McGowan

“Cathleen provided outstanding support for the students. Her critique of papers was consistently sharp and focused and constructive and the students all developed impressively as writers under her guidance.”

Alexander Murphy

“I know firsthand that many students benefited from Alex’s helpful feedback and willingness to read paper drafts. I saw a number of students make significant improvements in their writing over the quarter, and much of this progress can be attributed to Alex.”


Joseph Cross

“Our writing intern really was passionate about teaching and taught well, a combination which is a rarity. I was very engaged and also informed by the presentations… At first I thought he graded too harshly, but it turns out I learnt a lot from the way my paper was graded. I owe my final grade to Joseph.”



David Barr

“I am a big David Barr fan. My transition from high school writing to college writing was made so much better because of the comments he gave, and especially how to take some of the pretension and the classic high-school-required ‘from the dawn of time’-ness out of my writing. Super knowledgeable, super nice.”



Gilad Nir

“Gilad was an outstanding writing intern; his comments to the students were (by their own accounts) extremely helpful, and his contributions, in the form of leading the writing seminar, structuring the course overall, and offering comments in the meetings, were all exemplary. I was delighted to have Gilad as my writing intern and hope very much to have him again!”

Kenneth Yu

“This intern is the best I have ever worked with. I could not think of anything he could have done better. He would much deserve the award.”


Torstan Edstam

“Torsten was great at constructive criticism and making sure that students understand the content of the writing seminars. He also did a good job making sure that everyone’s writing consistently improved.”

Thomas Kelly

“Tom is fantastic. His feedback was extremely helpful for the papers. I’ve learned a lot about writing just from him these last two quarters… His writing seminars were really helpful and I think my writing is much better because of them.”


Julie Hanlon

“Julie is an outstanding educator in the making, and she totally merits any and all recognition for this. She was an absolute pleasure to work with.”

Lauren Osborne

“Lauren’s great at identifying the good and bad, and helping with paper organization… My writing has become more evidence-based and I am now able to tackle deeper claims because I can now back them up. Lauren has been my writing intern for all quarters and has always been willing to help develop my writing.”


A-J Aronstein

“A-J was a dream of a writing intern. He brought energy and enthusiasm to every single session, writing seminar, and paper comment. He was much beloved by my students and was available for them at all times, going far above and beyond the duty of writing intern. A-J would kindly allow me to bounce ideas off of him, collaborated with me on creating prompts for them, and would give me constructive feedback on how to keep making the course better.”

Joy Brennan

“Joy is amazing. She provides incredible insight not only into our writing style, but also to our knowledge about the texts we read. She is very supportive and makes sure that everyone has the help they need in addition to a stepping off point to improve their readings. I wouldn’t enjoy this class at all if not for Joy.”


Rachel Goodman

“Rachel was an excellent writing intern.  She was focused and responsible.  She was friendly and empathetic with the students. Her written comments on paper were sharp and productive. The student papers showed clear improvements based on her work with them.”

Phillip Stillman

“Phil was an incredibly conscientious and able intern from whom the students benefitted immensely. One moment worth sharing is that several students verbally (and loudly) lamented Phil’s move to teach another course next term: ‘Why are you leaving us? Where are you going?!'”


Carl Findley III

“Carl is going to become an excellent teacher. It is clear that he cares about his students and the material. His enthusiasm is palpable and his soft-spoken comments are sweet and extremely helpful.”

Michael Subialka

“I’ve gained a really good skeletal structure for future writing! His commentary was really helpful. He focused in on parts of the essay which were flawed and gave me great feedback. He only gave me useful ways to improve.”


Kevin Murphy

“I received a lot of very good experience and critcism in writing at the college level. All his comments were useful; his criticism was constructive and his praise was encouraged. Kevin did an excellent job keeping things on track.”

Monica Westin

“My writing has definitely become more fitted to the argument. Monica’s comments were very thorough and detailed. Over time, they helped me see my clear pattern of mistakes and correct them.”


Emily Ponder

“Emily has helped me so much. I struggled a lot before with writing a nuanced and contestable thesis, as well as crafting an interesting and organized intro. With Emilys dedication, I now fully understand how to do these things, and know tricks to identify if Im not. My argument, working with evidence, and transition skills have greatly improved as well. I really feel like I can write a good paper, which is a huge improvement from my earlier lack of confidence.”

Linda Smith

“Linda is very relaxed, informative, and helpful. She gives excellent feedback and it’s always pertinent to the subject matter… Even if you aren’t comfortable verbally expressing your ideas, Linda helps you gain comfort and makes it easy to share your thoughts.”


Salinda Lewis

“Her comments were very helpful. They drew my attention to conceptual gaps and shortcomings in each of my papers. I have become more aware of the connectivity and flow of my argument and I’ve learned how to better draw from my evidence.”

Leann Pace

“Her comments were as helpful as they were abundant. I have grown more aware of rhetorcial variation in argument.” 


Katie Hartman

“Her comments have been very useful because they forced me to reflect on what I am actually trying to say in my writing. Knowing both my strengths and weaknesses helps for personal reflection. I think I have learned useful techniques in order to write more coherently.”

Andrea Haslanger

“Her comments were very encouraging. I specifically found our writing seminars particularly helpful. She had a keen eye to help me find a strong issue position.”


Jennifer Johnson

“She was very good at making clear exactly where an argument has potential opposition. Her seminars helped me understand objections and she was very encouraging and helpfully critical.”

Cabell H. King

“Cabell was encouraging and helpfully critical. I have a clearer idea of what is a good way to structure a paper, but not feel like I have to follow it.”


Neil Chudgar

“Neil was encouraging with his critiques, which made talking about my work and others’ work more comfortable. Neil really helped me develop a more mature structure and argument for my papers.”

Matthew Drever

“Matt was very encouraging and helpful. Everyone seemed comfortable talking openly and my thesis formulation has very much improved. His typed comments made everything clear and easy to understand.”

The Francis X. Kinahan Award

The Francis X. Kinahan Award is in honor of Francis X. Kinahan, a beloved English professor at the University of Chicago who passed away in 1993. In 1976, Professor Kinahan was given the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching – the second highest honor bestowed by the University of Chicago. He was faculty director of the University theater and co-chair of the Committee on General Studies in the Humanities. Professor Kinahan also helped develop the Little Red Schoolhouse course with Professor Joseph Williams.

Given his connection to the course, the award recognizes two Lectors who have proven exceptional teachers of advanced writing in the Little Red Schoolhouse course.


Cheryl Fok

“Cheryl helped drastically improve my control over the focus of my argument and the direction of my papers. I feel more attuned to the motivations and needs of my readers, and I feel that my arguments more directly affect my readers.”

Naomi Harris

“Naomi is great at understanding what I try to convey through my written assignments (though we are in completely different fields!). Her charitable understanding make her comments compelling… since they are not based on misinterpretation but really target at authentic writing problems.”


Shreya Ramachandran

“Shreya was always super-encouraging to us during the seminars, providing great comments on what changes might advance our arguments while noting the things that were working effectively in each of our pieces.”

Paul Cato

“Paul is very honest and kind. He makes an effort to relate to all of us and also remembers our research well. Not only is he and incredible Lector, but he also goes the extra mile to be an incredible mentor and friend.”


Hannah Park

“She always welcomed us in her seminars. She ran them really well and I feel I became a stronger writer in the time I spent with her.”

Claire Watson

“Without a doubt, Claire has been one of the best TA’s/Lectors that I have ever had. I always walked away from the class with a clear grasp of the concepts and techniques that were covered. Moreover, she demonstrates an exceptional ability to meet her students “in the middle” and explicate knowledge to us in a familiar and easy way. I really believe that I could not have had a better lector, and a small part of me is genuinely disheartened by the fact I will not have an equal in other classes.”


Noah Feeman

“Noah clearly cares very deeply about writing and always sets a good example for the level of effort we should be putting into this course. Noah is very good about setting expectations and making sure we understand what is required of us.”

Silvia Guslandi

“Silvia was fantastic! She did I wonderful job leading and organizing our critiques each week, and gave great advice on our own papers. I thought her feedback was specific, actionable, and pertinent to the lecture material. I also appreciate how friendly and accessible she was throughout the course – I felt like I could always ask [for] help or advice on future assignments.”


Elizabeth Brocious

“Liz is dedicated to helping her students. Liz was excited and eager to meet her students outside of the regular time schedule. Her dedication to helping her students learn greatly enhanced our experience and learning in the LRS.”

David Cantor-Echols

“Calm, cool, clear, and collected. My lector also offered superb advice for my writing and conducted the discussion sections in an exemplary manner.”


Chris Chambers

“CHRIS IS SO AMAZING! I CANNOT EXPRESS HOW WONDERFUL AND HELPFUL HE IS! He’s engaging, kind, well spoken, and an amazing teacher. I have learned more about writing from him in these weeks than I have in years.”

Nicole Morse

“Nicole’s comments were insightful, specific, and, in general, actionable. There was never a week where I read their comments and thought, ‘I don’t know how to use these to improve this piece.'”


Emily Forden

“Emily was an amazing lector. She ran our seminars efficiently and they were always super helpful. She understands the concepts well and the she spent so much time understanding and critiquing our papers, which I really appreciated! Definitely the best TA I’ve had in my entire time here. My writing is better because of how well she ran our seminars.”


Kat Beilsmith

“Kat was an absolutely awesome lector!! She provided extremely useful and very detailed feedback – I could tell she put in a ton of time, which was so instrumental in our improvement. She was great at bringing to light many issues in the writings and coming up with ways to tweak them to work better for the readers.”

Caryn O’Connell

“Her comments were consistently excellent, especially when they highlighted how certain principles applied to specific sentences. They were also beautifully written, exemplifying the clear and elegant writing we are trying to learn.”



Erin Glade

“Erin’s seminars were very helpful to understand LRS lectures and the actual application of techniques. Her comments were very specific and I was always satisfied with the feedback in that I knew my weak points and strengths for the best possible product.”

Millie Rey

“Millie clearly conveyed the material from the lectures. I really appreciated all her comments and recaps. Millie was also very nice and willing to help all the time.”


Stephen Parkin

“Stephen was very supportive and encouraging. His feedback was thorough and helpful; his end-paper paragraphs tied all his comments together. Fun, funny – best class ever.


Melanie Zeck

“Melanie’s seminars were extremely funny and helpful. Her comments were very extensive and well-thought; they were extremely helpful! The class and her seminar have been one of the best during my four years at UChicago!”


Joshua Sutton

“Joshua made very good and thoughtful comments on my papers and pointed out areas where I needed to improve (and did so clearly). He did a very good job reviewing what we learned during the previous class, answering questions, and conducting the critiques of our papers.”


Shirley Yeung

“Patience and compassion were important attributes she brought to the seminar.  People tend to get defensive about their writing, but she kept us from feeling attacked.  Her command of the material was also strong and crucial.”


Julia Kowalski

“Julia’s comments were excellent and very clear. She used great examples from my text; I appreciated when she reworked sentences from my papers. She did a great job clarifying and explaining points from lectures.”


Mary Akchurin

“I liked how Mary’s seminars were conducted because she let us know specifically how to approach paper critiques. She gave specific examples in her comments; it was very helpful when she would show potential corrections and alterations.”

Brian Clites

“I reviewed Brian’s comments on my papers more frequently than the lecture handouts. His comments were really helpful and useful to my improvement as a writer. He was always prepared, clear, and organized; he always summarized the lecture material well.”


Benjamin Schonthal

“Ben’s comments always included good discussion of overall themes coupled with specific examples from the paper. He placed great emphasis on key concepts from the lectures. Ben was very adept at translating our individual comments and apply them to the group discussion.”


Neil Verma

“Neil was fantastic! I learned how to revise and put seemingly nebulous concepts into crisp, almost scientific analytical frameworks.” 


Arissa Oh

“I have never had someone so thoroughly critique my papers. Now I know what mistakes I need to look for in the future. Arissa put a lot of time and effort into her seminars and taught me a lot about writing. Unless she wrote the paper for me, she couldn’t have been more helpful.”


Rebecca Christy

“Rebecca’s comments were clear and helpful; they didn’t say what we should write verbatim, but they led me to make appropriate changes. She was clearly well-prepared for all her classes. She asked relevant questions and led us to our own critical conclusions. Rebecca was never condescending or insulting and always provided very valuable critiques.”


Jonathon Cihlar

“Jonathon was very diplomatic. He gave helpful suggestions and encouraged us to be able to give rewrite alternatives to the things we critiqued. He made seminars enjoyable and I appreciated that his paper comments were different from the ones my peers gave, offering me diverse feedback.”

The College Core Writing Tutor Award

Beginning in 2009, The College Writing Tutor Award recognizes two Writing Tutors who have shown exceptional instruction and mentorship with undergraduate students seeking assistance with their writing.


Darren Kusar

“Darren was encouraging and really made an effort to understand what exactly I was writing about and the argument I wanted to make and so, in… suggesting revisions, was able to relate them to my goal for the paper, not just general corrections.”

Watson Lubin

“Watson used his own advice and completely changed my perception of what it means to write an essay. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but now I’m actually also enthusiastic to see what I can do to improve and finish my essay.”


Sahila Kudalkar

“I felt encouraged to explain my ideas even if I wasn’t sure about them so that I could get feedback on them.”

Zhengying Tian

“She did a phenomenal job identifying issues in my essay and offered clear, constructive advice that helped me improve my writing.”


Susan Su

She was very encouraging and gave me useful techniques that I can use in the future for revisions. She was very easy to understand and answered all of my questions with precise and clear answers and suggestions.”

Brianna Wilson

“Brianna was a great tutor. She used our limited time to make real and substantial improvements to my writing process. She was encouraging, helpful, and easy to understand.”


James Woodall

“James was great. He was very welcoming and dove right into the essay. His criticism was very specific and forced me to delve deeper into my writing. He was very personable.”


David Reher

“He definitely knows how to help me improve my writing and deepen my understanding of the task at hand… He was wonderful and let me talk through my ideas and helped me have a clearer message. Could not be happier!”


Sarah Bonanno

“She was very encouraging and helpful, and she helped me clarify some questions and thoughts I had. Most importantly she helped me clarify my ideas and highlight important points; she was very nice and approachable throughout, asking questions without being overly critical.”

David Womble

“The tutor was incredible, very comfortable and encouraging. In respect to critique, he did a great job not rewriting my essay but rather giving thoughtful reviews of my work. He was very clear and concise.”


Evelyn Kessler

“Evelyn was critical, but not judgmental which I really appreciate. She addressed the issue that I had with my paper very clearly, so I understood easily what I needed to fix.”

Meiqing Xiong

“It was comfortable and very collaborative. I thought her criticisms brought out very important details I hadn’t considered.”


Alex Plant

“I felt comfortable. She was really nice while still offering critiques. She gave me the chance to explain why I had said certain things or what I was trying to do with a paragraph.”


Andres Millan

“Andres always encourages creative thinking. He can find ten different ideas to develop in one paper and he is always happy to explain the possibilities I have to take the paper further. Andres is the best tutor. I am always happy when I get a chance to talk to him about my essays.”



Erin Epperson

“I was very comfortable with Erin. She was very encouraging, helpful, and straightforward. She helped me think about the topics of my paper in a different level.”

Elizabeth Fiedler

“She was very helpful and relatable. I felt like I received a lot of helpful criticism and constructive revisions. She explained her ideas and comments in an easy-to-understand manner. Most positive experience with the program yet.”



Tristan Bates

“Tristan’s care, time, and thoroughness in her written responses to papers is outstanding. I was blown away! She is a great reader and she is kind and devoted as well.”


Robert Porwoll

“Robert is immensely helpful. He provides good tips on how to organize a paper and structure a paper more effectively.”


Emma Harper

“She was very efficient. As soon as I had her read the draft, she pinpointed a new framework that ended up making it much better.”

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