James and Ruth Brown Undergraduate Award

This award is provided by a generous donation from the James and Ruth Brown family. The purpose of the award is to provide financial support to undergraduate students studying rhetoric. Dr. Brown was particularly interested in enhancing reading skills to strengthen a student's ability to participate in public debate. 

2023 application deadline: May 21st
Notifications of awards will be made in the first week of June.


Two $3,000 awards. Note: Funds will be awarded fall semester 2023. If the recipient of the award currently receives financial aid through the University of Minnesota, the award will be applied toward the student’s financial aid. All scholarship awards will be processed through a student's University account (via the scholarship automation process).


Applicants for this award:

  • must be a Technical Writing & Communication (TWC) major with at least one semester of coursework remaining.
  • must have completed at least 12 credits in the TWC major by the time of award.
  • must be registered full time during the following fall semester at the University of Minnesota.


To apply for the award, submit the following to the application form:

  1. A sample paper or project that engages a public issue, debate, or controversy
  2. A reflective essay of 500-750 words maximum describing your paper/project
  3. An unofficial copy of your transcript

Submit your application

If you would prefer to submit your application materials in person, you may deliver them to 214 Nolte Center.

Contact writ@umn.edu with any questions about the award.

Writing Sample

The writing sample could be a paper/project from a previous course or an original paper/project. The topic and/or approach of the sample paper/project should be to enter the ongoing conversation around the topic and contribute something of value. 

Examples of Possible Samples for the Application

Example issues could be climate change, social justice, diversity, healthcare, or a political issue, etc. Students could also connect the topic to their TWC sub-plan. 

  • Course Paper
  • Infographic
  • Short translation of complex topic (video)
  • Brochure for a community organization
  • Website that addresses topic of controversy
  • Twitter account
  • Blog
  • Podcast 
  • Digital story or argument: for example if you were looking at a transportation issue and did short interviews with a person who was affected (get outside of your own experience to understand others’ perspectives)


  • Project must address and productively engage in a topic of public debate 
  • Project must provide an application that reflects critical reading and makes a meaningful contribution to the topic or issue
  • Project must reflect intellectual analysis and close reading of the topic

Reflective essay 

The reflective essay should explain and discuss how the paper/project goes about its work engaging the chosen public issue. Does it, for example, provide a needed perspective, fill a gap in knowledge, support a perspective/group that contributes to greater understanding, or take an approach that is needed? Whatever its strategies, please detail them in the essay.

Past Recipients

  • 2022: Sumeya Jeilani and Olivia Trout
  • 2021: Rosemarie Lam and Mark Mathison
  • 2020: Natalie Gardner & Jaclyn Willems
  • 2019: Emily Raper