Ruback Prize for Distinguished Writing

History of The Ruback Prize for Distinguished Writing

The Ruback Prize for Distinguished Writing recognizes outstanding papers written for Honors College courses on any topic. The award is named in honor of former Associate Director Robin Ruback, who graduated from Honors College and was the Associate Director from 2009 to 2017. Winners of the award follow in the tradition of Honors College excellence fostered by Ms. Ruback during her two decades with the college as a student and staff member.

Guidelines and Criteria

Any work written for Honors credit in 2020 is eligible, regardless of course level. In addition, outstanding entries from 200-level classes will be awarded First Place, Second Place, and Runner-up Prizes.

Students must be in good Honors standing at the time of the judging (January 2021) and may submit only one 200-level and one upper-level paper per year. Please send your submission in pdf or docx format to at any time, but final deadline is 11:59 pm January 31st, 2021.

A committee appointed by the Honors College Writing Specialist will select the winners. Judges may decide to withhold or share awards based on the entry pool.

Tips for a competitive application:

  • Send your submission in pdf or docx format to
  • Include a title page with your name, address, and the course the paper was written for. Make sure your name is not included anywhere else on the paper.
  • Add any introductory information needed to understand your project outside of the classroom context.
  • Carefully proofread and edit your submission. You can consult your instructor or Lydia for editing ideas.

2019 Ruback Award Winners

2019 Ruback Prize for Distinguished Writing

Natalie Meyers
“The International Jew”


Emily VanHandel
“The Role of International Adjudication in LGBT Rights”

Also to be congratulated are the winners of the 200-level division!

First Place

Emily Fedewa
“’Fight Man to Man, and Do All You Can’: The Story of Bonnie and Clyde”

Second Place

Emily VanHandel
“Repairing Democracy: Public Testimonials in Congress”

Honorable Mentions

Beatrice Mohler
“The Value of Vulnerability”


Jessica Gatzow
“Morphological Echo: Observing the Psyche and Experiencing the Surreal”