Humanities Division’s Rothman Award honors freshman writing students

Don Rothman
Don Rothman (Photo by Scott Rappaport)
UCSC student Alma Morales
UCSC student Alma Morales was awarded first place for her essay, "Nina de Mexico, Student of America--Daughter of Nowhere" in the 2012-13 Don Rothman Writing Awards. (Photo by Tony Soottinanchai)
Proud parents: Gary and Diana Tsyporin with Jeremiah and Chancellor Blumenthal at the awards ceremony (Photo: Tony Soottinanchai)

UCSC student Alma Morales and her writing instructor Steven Carter were awarded first place for Morales’s essay, "Nina de Mexico, Student of America--Daughter of Nowhere" in the 2012-13 Don Rothman Writing Awards.

“Winning this award and receiving this recognition has been a great honor for me,” said Morales at a ceremony for students and their parents held at the Humanities 1 Building.

“I have always feared that I possess only the limited skills of a simple small town writer, but standing here now I can honestly say I am proud of my work and I am confident in my writing capabilities.”

Created in 2010, the Don Rothman Writing Awards celebrate excellence in writing among first-year UCSC students, and give them the chance to honor instructors who have contributed to their growth as writers.

“The Rothman Award showcases the work our students undertake at the outset of their college experience,” noted William Ladusaw, UCSC dean of humanities. “It’s a fitting memorial to Don’s spirit and enthusiasm for opening minds and launching successful college careers,” he added.

Rothman began teaching undergraduate writing classes at UC Santa Cruz in 1973 and was the recipient of the 2002 Distinguished Teaching Award from the UCSC Center for Teaching Excellence.

After more than three decades of guiding teachers and teaching college students, the late senior lecturer emeritus in writing established an endowment to honor both exceptional freshman students and their writing teachers.

“It's likely that UCSC would not be the institution that it is now if its founders hadn't intuited the importance of identifying, challenging, and respecting our beginning students' strengths as thinkers and writers,” Rothman noted at the inaugural award ceremony in 2010.

Second place in this year’s awards went to student Jeremiah Tysporin and his instructor Margaret Amis for his paper “The Mega University.”

“In high school I had the attitude that if I did well in mathematics and sciences, there would be no need to be able to write well. I shudder when I imagine my old mindset,” said Tysporin.

“After coming to UCSC and wholly involving my life in my freshmen writing class, I discovered something that was, for me at least, life-changing: that the humanities are vitally important, fascinating, relevant to many important aspects of being a human being, and writing about it is actually a lot of fun once you actually put effort into it.”

Although she was unable to attend the awards ceremony, Don’s wife, Diana Rothman, sent a letter that was displayed at the ceremony and also included in the awards program.

In that letter, she noted:

“This award was close to Don’s heart, as it is to mine… In addition to celebrating first year writing, Don saw the Rothman Award as an acknowledgment of the teachers who play such a critical role in the education of first year students. After he retired, he relished the process that brought together volunteer instructors to read the selected papers and choose the winners. For him, the conversation about why and how we teach never stopped.”