The Writing Well

Dickinson State's Writing-across-the-Curriculum Newsletter

Dickinson State University's annual student writing contest -- and our 2021-2022 winners!

Since the 2018-2019 academic year, DSU has recognized its strong student writers by awarding annual certificates and prizes for writing across the curriculum. Students in classes that range from agriculture, education, English, the social sciences, and more have submitted research papers, essays, and other documents to the University Writing Committee for review and selection. This year, the committee received more submissions than ever before, so choosing among the diverse writing samples could be extremely difficult. We extend our congratulations to all our excellent student writers even as we honor this year's winners in several specific categories. Each winner will receive an award certificate and a gift card prize.


Let us introduce you to this year's award-winning writers and the superb writing they shared with us. Detailed interviews with some of the winners follow the general announcement section below.

DSU's 2021-2022 Writing-across-the-Curriculum Award Winners

Meet our Students: Interviews with 2021-2022's Award-Winning Writers

Kyley Verploegen, writing-across-the-curriculum award winner for agriculture and technical studies

Please share some information about yourself.

My major is soil science, and I'm from Havre, MT. I'm currently working at Hi-Line Chemical. I haven’t always enjoyed writing, but later in high school and college I enjoyed writing about topics I was interested in. I would expect writing to be tied into my future career.


Share some information about the writing you submitted for our contest.

This paper was written as part of my undergraduate research project, and Mr. Tobias Stroh was the professor. I enjoyed this writing assignment. I was able to learn a lot of new information by doing the literature review portion, and I enjoyed writing about my findings. One thing I have learned from this project was that there is almost always an answer. Sometimes you just have to dig to find it!


What other memorable DSU writing experiences have you had?

One of the most memorable writing experiences was having to write about how the rock formations within the Theodore Roosevelt Park were created and some of the geologic processes.


Have there been particular professors, tutors, and/or staff members who have helped you as a writer?

The professor that helped me the most with this particular writing assignment would be Mr. Tobias Stroh. I was having major writers’ block and he helped me to overcome that and finish my paper.


What advice do you have for other college writers, including those who struggle with writing or even dislike writing? How about suggestions for the DSU writing program?

If you are struggling to find the right words, take a break and come back to it later. Often when you reread what you have already written you can find better ways to rewrite and keep going!


Don’t force writing topics. Students should be able to write about and research things that they enjoy learning about.


Are there any other issues that should be addressed in terms of students, writing, and Dickinson State? Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview?

I would just like to thank Ms. Annika Plummer, Dr. Poland, Mr. Stroh and Dr. King for everything they do for all of the Ag students. We all greatly appreciate them and all of the hard work they do!

Nathan Zent, writing-across-the-curriculum award winner for communications

Please share some background information about yourself.

I am an English major (creative writing track) and a political science minor. My hometown is Dickinson. I have always enjoyed writing as a way to convey my ideas, and I believe that writing will be a part of my life after graduation.


Share some information about the writing you submitted for our contest.

The paper was written for Dr. Eric Grabowsky's COMM 280, Understanding Film and Television. I enjoyed researching the making of Hoosiers and examining the difference between Hoosiers and the true story of the 1954 Milan Indians high school basketball team. The most challenging aspects of the assignment were writing clearly and resisting the urge to write about every little accentuation of the underdog theme I found in my research. Through this assignment, I learned how to apply camera angle terminology when describing specific scemes in Hoosiers and to analyze a scene's effectiveness.


What other memorable DSU writing experiences have you had?

I completed a research paper in Dr. Doherty's History of the United States Supreme Court class on how the United States Supreme Court ruled on cases involving accommodations for students in K-12 education in accordance with IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Act. This paper is memorable to me because IDEA had a direct impact on my life. Without IDEA, I do not believe I would have necessarily received the quality K-12 education required to be accepted into college. And therefore, I felt a real connection to the cases I read about and analyzed.


During your college career thus far, have there been particular professors, tutors, and/or staff members who have helped you as a writer?

I have been fortunate to have numerous professors guide me to improve my writing. Dr. Peter Grimes guided me through Composition I and Composition II, and he instilled in me the need for a writer to revise written work. In addition, Professor Stevier-Johanson was working as a writing tutor when I took Composition I and Composition II. She helped me focus more on grammar and punctuation, and she suggested ways for me to be more concise. Dr. Dana Whippo encourages quality writing over quantity. In addition, Dr. Grabowsky encouraged me to make sure that my writing conveys what I want it to convey.


What advice do you have for other college writers, including those who struggle with writing or even dislike writing? What suggestions do you have for DSU's writing program?

Do not put an assignment off until the last minute just because it involves writing. The more time you give yourself to write and rewrite, the higher quality your final written piece will be.


I suggest that in a class that is not solely a writing class, a professor should make sure that students have an adequate amount of time to complete a writing assignment. In addition, when drafts are required, professors should give the feedback in a timely manner so that students have time to review it and have enough time to complete the final paper. Sometimes writing assignment deadlines and tests are scheduled close together, which may cause some students to not have enough time to write and to study.

Kaylee Obrigewich, writing-across-the-curriculum award winner for Composition II

Please share some background information about yourself.

I am majoring in elementary education and grew up on my family farm north of Belfield, North Dakota. I plan to teach in a small, local school and raise a family while staying involved with agriculture. I have never really enjoyed writing, unless it was about something I was interested in. Writing will be a large part of my future career as an educactor.


Share some information about the writing you submitted to our contest.

My rhetorical analysis entitled "When Life Gives You Lemons. Drink Bud LIght Seltzer's Lemonade" was written for my Composition II class with Professor Jamee Larson. I really enjoyed writing about the intricate details of the advertisement itself, including lots of puns and metaphors. The most challenging aspect of the paper was knowing what the paper was supposed to consist of. However, my professor was extremely helpful by steering me in the right direction. I learned that writing can be professional and entertaining at the same time along with a deeper understanding of persuasive techniques.


Have there been particular professors, tutors, and/or staff members who have helped you as a writer?

Along with Professor Jamee Larson, Dr. Stacy Cordery helped me gain my confidence as a writer. I wrote a biography of Matilda Stoxen for my history class last semester with Dr. Cordery. Dr. “Chip” Poland has also always encouraged me in all my academics even though I am not an agriculture major anymore.


What advice do you have for other college writers, including those who struggle with writing or even dislike writing? What suggestions do you have for DSU's writing program?

For students: Don't be afraid to ask questions and reach out to your professors. For professors: Make writing relevant and explain how that type of writing can be used in real life.

Jake Daniel, writing-across-the-curriculum award winner for LEAD (Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program courses)

Please share some background information about yourself.

I'm double majoring in Health and Physical Education and am also working toward a minor in coaching and leadership studies through the Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program (TRHLP) at DSU. I am from Dickinson, ND and hope to be a teacher and a coach at either a high school or college level. I have always been a skilled writer and it is something I enjoy. I know that writing will always be an important part of my career and life


Share some information about the writing you submitted to our contest.

The work I submitted was for Dr. Stacy Cordery’s 21st Century Leadership class, which is a part of the TRHLP. The assignment was to research and analyze a leader of the 21st century. I enjoyed the assignment because of the leader I chose. John Wooden was a very successful basketball coach so most things I read were very exciting to me. The most challenging part of the assignment was analyzing each aspect of Wooden’s leadership style and tactics. It took strong critical thinking, but I learned a lot about leadership and life choices.


What other memorable writing experiences have you had?

Writing has been a big part of my workload through my first year of college. It has always been a positive experience because the professors allow the students to be creative in their writing, especially with the topics that can be written on.


During your college career, have there been particular professors, tutors, and/or staff members who have helped you as a writer?

Dr. Stacy Cordery helped me tremendously as a writer during my first year at DSU. She helped me take my writing to a new level and taught me new skills that changed my writing. The writing tools she gave me are going to be beneficial for the rest of my life.


What advice do you have for other college writers, including those who struggle with writing or even dislike writing? What suggestions do you have for the DSU writing program?


For students: Take time to read! Reading has helped me as a writer and as a thinker. Also, find people to review your work and ask them to give constructive feedback.


For the program:

Throughout my first year of college, I had many variations of writing assignments. The best format for me was having a selection of shorter papers to write during the semester and then one larger paper at the end of the semester. Multiple long papers for one class in a semester can burn students out and leave them discouraged and stumped. Having a greater number of short papers in a class helps students feel a quicker sense of accomplishment in their writing, which makes the larger papers not feel like such a daunting task.

Tariro Chitiyo, writing-across-the-curriculum award winner for nursing

Please share some background information about yourself.

I'm majoring in nursing (BSN). My hometown is Harare, Zimbabwe, and my future plans include working as a registered nurse in Bismarck. I don't expect writing to be a part of my future career unless I pursue an advanced degree.


Share some information about the writing you submitted to our contest.

This paper was written for the Special Populations class in the nursing program. The instructors were Erin Berger & Rebekah Feland. I enjoyed learning about how nurses can help women and their families cope after a miscarriage. The most challenging aspect was finding published research on the topic. Through this writing assignment, I learned about the importance of mental health support after loss of a pregnancy to prevent complicated grieving and/or disenfranchised grieving.


What other memorable writing experiences have you had?

Writing for classes such as mythology and other literature classes. Learning about various cultures in these classes through research opened my mind to the world of writing and improved my creative writing skills.


During your college career, have there been particular professors, tutors, and/or staff members who have helped you as a writer?

Yes, Dr. Holly McBee.


What advice do you have for other college writers, including those who struggle with writing or even dislike writing?

Don't quit! And try to have someone else listen to your ideas and proofread your papers. Also, procrastination is a writer's worst enemy.

Maddie Olsen, writing-across-the-curriculum award winner for history

Please share some background information about yourself.

I am majoring in Secondary History Education and minoring in Leadership Studies, and Dickinson is my hometown. My future plans include completing my education degree and then teaching either at a middle school or a high school. I'm also considering a career in the public history field.


I have always enjoyed writing, and it has been a passion of mine! I expect writing to be part of my future career either in teaching or in the public history field.


Share some information about the writing you submitted to our contest.

The paper I submitted was for my History of the U.S. Presidents class with Dr. Doherty. The writing assignment asked me to choose a president and examine their life before, during, and after their presidency. My paper's research into the president was my favorite part as I learned more than I expected. The most challenging part of the paper was narrowing down the information I learned into a cohesive narrative. Through the assignment, I practiced writing concisely yet informatively to give readers a deeper understanding of my chosen president.


What other memorable writing experiences have you had?

Another memorable writing experience at DSU was being chosen to present at the 2022 Celebration of Scholars conference in April.


During your college career thus far, have there been particular professors, tutors, and/or staff members who have helped you as a writer?

Yes, Professor Michelle Stevier has taught me how to write concisely without losing any of the crucial information. Without her guidance and sharing opportunities to practice my writing, I would not be the writer I am today.


What advice do you have for other college writers, including those who struggle with writing or even dislike writing?

My advice is to find something you enjoy talking or learning about and find a way to write about that for classes or simply for fun.

Logan Greef, writing-across-the-curriculum award winner for political science

Please share some background information about yourself.

My major is political science pre-law. As a member of the Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program, I am minoring in leadership. I have lived in many places but since I went to Dickinson High School for all four years, I would call Dickinson my hometown. My future plans are to complete three more semesters at DSU, study for and take the LSAT, and attend law school.


Have you always enjoyed writing? Do you expect writing to be part of a future career?

I never thought of myself as a writer until I began to grow and excel in Kevin Moberg's Honors Composition courses. Because of the positive feedback from instructors and peers, I have now created a few extremely detailed accounts of my outdoor adventures. I expect that writing with clarity will be of utmost importance in my future career as a lawyer.


The writing that I submitted for this contest was for Dr. Dana Whippo's Public Opinion course. I enjoyed learning about the public councils in Kazakhstan that advise their government. The most challenging aspect of this assignment was creating sound arguments and keeping the focus of the paper narrow enough to not exceed the page limit. During this particular writing experience, I learned that quality in writing is almost always much more important than quantity.


In addition to the course for which you wrote your award-winning political science paper, what memorable writing experiences have you had at DSU?

In the two classes I have taken with Dr. Whippo, she has always made it clear that she is willing to sit down with a student and help them with the quality and clarity of their course work.

I think one of the ways Kevin Moberg helped to foster an atmosphere of skillful writing was letting the students write about things that they were personally interested in. It is much easier to write about something when you care about that something.


As a writing tutor in the Writing Center at DSU, I would like to thank all the students who have come in to have me look over their papers. Looking over others' writing has caused my own writing to improve.


What advice do you have for other college writers, including those who struggle with writing or even dislike writing?

As a writing tutor and a scholar myself, I have a lot of advice for those who struggle with or even dislike writing. To those of you who are still reading this, I am going to describe how I tackle a paper. Make a plan. First, determine the minimum and maximum pages the professor is requiring for the assignment. For example, if the page requirement is between four and six pages, plan to write five. This allows room for ideas you think of while writing, but also allows you to wrap it up sooner if you feel it is appropriate to do so.


The next step is to figure out how many words five pages is. If any of you were wondering, it is 1,650. Then, determine that amount of paragraphs you will need in the paper. First, assume you need an intro and a conclusion. Then, make a list of main ideas. For a five-page paper it would be a good idea to have several main ideas. Those main ideas will each be their own body paragraph. To maintain consistent length between paragraphs, divide your desired word count by the number of paragraphs and try to stick to it.


Another way to tackle a writing assignment is to do your plan in steps. This requires procrastination to be absent. For example, do the planning stage the first day. Then write one body paragraph a day until you are done with them. Then write the introduction paragraph. Wait one more day and then write your conclusion paragraph. The next day read through your paper, and have a peer review it as well.


Lastly, if you want additional eyes to look over your paper, I implore you to visit the writing center.

Molly Rayhorn, writing-across-the-curriculum award winner for psychology

Please share some background information about yourself.

At DSU I was double majoring in Chemistry and Psychology, but next fall I will be pursuing an Electrical Engineering degree at the University of North Dakota. I am from New England, North Dakota and have lived there almost all my life. I really enjoy reading, anything from fiction to nonfiction, and I find many topics interesting. Because of that, I think my writing skills have developed well. Writing is part of many jobs, so I am sure that some part of my future career will involve writing.


Share some information about the writing you submitted to our contest.

This paper was written for a History and Systems of Psychology course which was taught by Dr. George Seror. I enjoyed that the assignment was really in the students’ hands. We were allowed to choose any topic we were interested in, as long as we did not cover it in the class. I think this led to great papers due to the level of interest. The most challenging part for me was gathering quality information. Many times, when looking for articles, you come across people’s opinions which might differ from facts. It was challenging to make sure I was presenting as close to facts as possible. Through this particular assignment, I have learned how important it is to research and spend time exposing yourself to a topic before starting to write about it. Understanding both sides well leads to a better and more informative paper.


What other memorable DSU writing experiences have you had?

I have written a few papers during my time at DSU, but I think I was most proud of the one about the Replication Crisis that I submitted. I spent a lot of time on it and was happy with how it turned out.


During your college career, have there been particular professors, tutors, and/or staff members who have helped you as a writer?

Feedback from professors has definitely helped, but I think the biggest help was being read to when I was little. The emphasis my parents placed on reading really helped me develop a love for reading, which exposed me to a lot of writing. I know my experience with reading definitely helps me as a writer.


What advice do you have for other college writers, including those who struggle with writing or even dislike writing? Do you have any suggestions for the DSU writing program?

My advice would be to find something that interests you and read about it. As long as you are reading about something that interests you, it will not be a chore. The experience you gain will be invaluable and help in many areas, not just writing.


I think that letting students choose a topic that interests them can lead to improvements in the resulting work and can be more enjoyable to students as well.


Are there any other issues that should be addressed in terms of students, writing, and Dickinson State? Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview?

I have nothing else I would like to add to the interview other than a thank you to my parents and everyone who has helped me at DSU.

Leyton Lang, writing-across-the-curriculum award winner for the Department of Teacher Education

Please share some background information about yourself.

I was born and raised in Minot, North Dakota and received an associate degree from Bismarck State College in 2020. Since then, I have declared my major to be in Composite Social Science, and I intend on pursuing a master’s degree in athletic educational leadership from Dickinson State as well. In the future, I hope to make a career as an athletic administrator and/or head basketball coach. There is certainly a great deal of writing, planning, and researching that will be required. Until I am able to find a position that fits me, I plan on staying in Bismarck and working as an aide or substitute teacher, coaching freshmen basketball, and working at Lang’s Lawn Care in the summer with my uncle. I am very excited to see where life will take me following my time at DSU.


In addition to the course for which you wrote your winning philosophy of teaching statement, what memorable writing experiences have you had at DSU?

I don’t even know where to begin for this one. I have been pushed and challenged to critically think and write regarding a large variety of topics during my time at Dickinson State. I am not exaggerating when I say that I remember being assigned certain papers that I never thought I would be able to complete or score well on. Fortunately, that was not ever the case and I have been able to do significantly better than I could have ever imagined. My professors have been incredibly helpful, insightful, and supportive in the various writing processes and assignments. Their instruction and input has helped boost my confidence and refine my ability to write essays.


What advice do you have for other college writers, including those who struggle with writing or even dislike writing?

There is no perfect formula for writing a good paper (in my opinion), but it is important to stay confident, dedicated, and write about things that are interesting to you. Yes, it can (and will) be difficult at times, but with enough commitment to the assignment, you will be able to persevere and complete the task that once seemed so impossible. It may sound cliché, but if I can do it, I believe anyone that really wants to can do it as well. Reach out to friends, family, professors, and tutors when you come to a difficult point in the writing process. A search on Google or YouTube can always be beneficial in the process as well. We have more information and resources available at our fingertips than ever before, so utilize that along with your acquaintances as best as you can and as often as necessary.

DSU's writing-across-the-curriculum program

Information about Dickinson State University's writing-across-the-curriculum and writing-in-the-disciplines (major fields) is available at this link.