I’ve written before about my complete and utter surprise when, nearly eight years ago, Stanford’s Vice Provost appeared at our annual Oral Presentation of Research Awards ceremony (where one award is given, every term, for the best research/presentation in our second-year writing/oral presentation course) and announced that the award would henceforth be the LUNSFORD award. (He went on to say that this was the first undergraduate award to be named for someone still alive, which sounded—and still sounds—so funny to me!)
Alive I still am, and so I was delighted to attend the 7th annual award ceremony, held in the presentation space in the Hume Center for Writing and Speaking. We had a good crowd—and a hungry one, who fell with gusto upon a table laden with goodies, from tiny crab cakes to cheeses, fruits, and sweets. Faculty Director Adam Banks presided, making eloquent and inspirational remarks about the importance of writing and about the mission of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric and the Hume Center, and asking all those nominated for awards to stand and be recognized. Then each term’s winners were introduced by their instructors (who also deserved warm congratulations on their teaching), who spoke about the excellent research/writing/speaking their students had done and then presented each winner with a pretty nice check, a certificate, and several books that the instructors had chosen especially for them.
This is “awards season” across the country, so I expect you may have been attending similar events and congratulating undergraduate students on their work. I love this time of year and try to attend as many such sessions as possible, though I’ll admit this is my favorite. We capped the afternoon off with two student winners reprising their presentations. Juliana Chang led off with “Heritage Language Loss in Second Generation East-Asian Americans,” which opened with the following slide, showing Juliana and her grandmother and a photo of Juliana presenting:
As Juliana went on to explain, she can no longer talk with her much-loved grandmother because she came to this country as a toddler and lost her ability to speak and understand Mandarin. Her research on language loss among this particular community was compelling, as she sorted out the reasons why so many Chinese and Taiwanese young people fail to retain their native language and reflected on the implications of this situation. She ended her presentation with a poem she had written to her grandmother, but one she still cannot speak to her in Mandarin. It was a bittersweet and memorable presentation.
The second presentation featured David Slater, here receiving his award from his instructor, Dr. Kathleen Tarr:
David’s presentation, “Cracking the Keyless Lock,” focused on current encryption practices, which he explored in depth, exploring the arguments on all sides of this very fraught issue. He looked especially hard at the issue of end-to-end encryption, and coming to what, for many, was a surprising but fully-reasoned conclusion. Big applause all around for Chang and Slater, and then more food and fun.
You can check out both of these presentations, as well as a number of others, at The Lunsford Award Presentations page on the Stanford University site. Take a look!
Credit: Photos by Andrea Lunsford