End of Year Celebrations?

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Commencement and award times in 2024 are, without doubt, a season of discontent, to say the very least. So many campuses turned in on themselves, as students, faculty, and staff raise protests, sometimes violent, against Israeli bombings or against anti-semitism, or both. Cancellations of commencement ceremonies–what’s to celebrate? 

overhead view of graduate caps at the 2010 Unversity of Nebraska - Lincoln commencement ceremony.jpg


And yet. As always, there are some signs of spring and pockets of hope. If we look for them. If we find and share them. And while students on my home campus have mounted significant protests, demanding changes in University investment policies, they are also completing this spring term and participating in one of my favorite spring rituals: annual writing awards. There’s an award for first-year writing and rhetoric, one for second-year writing and rhetoric, and one for writing across the disciplines—and I look forward every year to listening to presentations and reading winning essays, always so happy to celebrate student ingenuity and creativity. This year's second-year awards for oral presentation of research go to students who have written and presented on subjects as diverse and fascinating as "What Does It Mean to Create Alongside Technology?," "Outside the World: Community, Culture, and Utopian Ideas in Antarctic Stations," "How Sex and Age Influence Medical Treatment," "Securing Farmworkers' Futures in the Age of AI," and "Citizen Science, Environmental Justice, and Lithium Mining."

I was fortunate to join this year’s celebration via Zoom just two days ago where I got to hear six students describe their research and talk about what the process of investigation and presentation had meant to them. In every case, they commented on the privilege of being able to “dig deep” into a subject they felt passionate about as well as the chance to learn to communicate through way more than words alone. As always, I wanted to hear all their presentations and to sit and talk with each one of them. 

So here near the end of the 2023-24 school year, and amidst upheaval and daily horrors, I hope that you are finding small moments of joy and connection. I am grateful for such moments, and for all teachers and students of writing, everywhere.

As summer nears, I am going to take a break from this beloved blog to put my big girl pants on and tackle revisions of my books, including Easy Writer and Everything’s an Argument. So it’s nose-to-the-grindstone time! 

I wish you—and our poor world—a rejuvenating summer season. And peace. 


"graduation caps" by j.o.h.n. walker is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

About the Author
Andrea A. Lunsford is the former director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University and teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English. A past chair of CCCC, she has won the major publication awards in both the CCCC and MLA. For Bedford/St. Martin's, she is the author of The St. Martin's Handbook, The Everyday Writer and EasyWriter; The Presence of Others and Everything's an Argument with John Ruszkiewicz; and Everything's an Argument with Readings with John Ruszkiewicz and Keith Walters. She has never met a student she didn’t like—and she is excited about the possibilities for writers in the “literacy revolution” brought about by today’s technology. In addition to Andrea’s regular blog posts inspired by her teaching, reading, and traveling, her “Multimodal Mondays” posts offer ideas for introducing low-stakes multimodal assignments to the composition classroom.