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Eagles Write! Celebrates Student Writers

Mon, 11/02/2015 - 05:09pm | By: Ashlea Maddox

Winners of the Eagles Write! celebration include, from left: Brashe Wood, Raven Gutierrez, Ariel Elliot, Hiba Tahir, and Jessica Reeves.

The University of Southern Mississippi hosted the third annual Eagles Write! celebration and competition Oct. 20, in conjunction with The National Council of Teachers of English's annual National Day on Writing. Instructors nominated their students for writing awards based on essays completed in their first-year composition courses.

Winners and nominees of the competition were recognized by their professors and fellow students in Cook Library.

Excerpts from the competition's nominated works and five winning pieces are on display in the Cook Library Learning Commons for a month-long public exhibit. The exhibit also includes corresponding graphic designs by College of Arts and Letters web designer, Danielle Sypher-Haley. The designs incorporate quotations from the nominees' essays.

The celebration included a reading from the competition's winners and the opening of the exhibit, which includes all of the competition's nominees. 

“Each nomination is representative of the strengths our students bring to the writing classroom. I love being part of a community in which we are all becoming writers together,” said Dr. Joyce Inman, assistant professor of English and director of composition.

The National Day on Writing is an opportunity to celebrate writing nationwide, and Southern Miss is no exception. Each year, nominations from instructors of first year composition courses are submitted for the EaglesWrite! competition. These courses include Expanded Composition, Composition I, Composition II and Honors sections of Composition I and II. Last year, the competition began accepting digital/creative categories into the competition. For example, digital competition winner Hiba Tahir posted her entry on tumblr.

“Every professor I've had here seems to share my love and passion for literature,” says Tahir, a Cleveland, Miss. native. “I enjoy writing because it allows me to express myself in ways other mediums don't and make valuable and profound connections with others.”

Each of the nominee's works is concerned with topics they feel are relevant to public awareness, naturally creating a variety of responses.

“We want to recognize them as the authors they are,” said Kelli Sellers, an instructor of composition. “Much of the work in the composition classroom is building a community of writers to help students better understand that writing is a social act and that language is power.”

The competition's five winners include Ariel Elliot, English 102 Honors; Raven Gutierrez, English 102; Jessica Reeves, English 101, Hiba Tahir, Digital/Creative; and Brashe Wood, Expanded Composition.

“We use a rubric to choose the winners. We specifically look for focus, clarity, development, style and creativity,” Sellers said. “It's often difficult to choose the winners because we receive so many wonderful essays.”

For information about the Southern Miss Department of English, visit