Undergraduate Writing Prizes

Congratulations to all winners of Caltech undergraduate writing prizes in the humanities!


Alexander P. and Adelaide F. Hixon Prize for Writing in Freshman Humanities

Established in 2000 by Alexander P. and Adelaide F. Hixon, the Hixon Prize for Writing is awarded to an undergraduate student for the best composition in a freshman humanities course. The prize recipient is chosen by a humanities committee in conjunction with the Hixon Writing Center.

Crystal Liang, "Why Was The Feminine Mystique Such a Phenomenon?: A Clarification" (2017)

Gideon Leeper, "Empiricism and Mathematical Knowledge" (2016)


Gordon McClure Memorial Communications Prize

The Gordon McClure Memorial Communications Prize is awarded by the humanities faculty to undergraduate students for excellence in written and oral communication skills.  

2018 Winners

English: Maitreyi Nair, "An Exploration of Letter-Writing in Jane Austen's Work"

History: Tara Shankar, "Why Cervantes' History is His Story"

Philosophy: Jonathan Chan, "Moral Distinctions Between Passive and Active Euthanasia"

2017 Winners

English: Zofii Kaczmarek, "Gaudy Night Essay"

History: Christina Lin, "The Rhetoric of Change"

Philosophy: Kshitij Grover, "Living with Sisyphus"

2016 Winners

English: Suchita Nety, “Feminine Intellectual Fertility in the Writing of Christine de Pizan

History: Leo Balestri, “Fifty Years of Dividing Lines

Philosophy: William Hoza, "A Can of Worms"


Mary A. Earl McKinney Prize in Literature

The Mary A. Earl McKinney Prize in Literature was established in 1946 by Samuel P. McKinney, M.D., of Los Angeles. Its purpose is to promote proficiency in writing. The terms under which it is given are decided each year by the literature faculty; it may be awarded for essays submitted in connection with regular literature classes or on the basis of a special essay contest.

2018 Winners

Fiction: Laura Hu, " Finding Clementia - Excerpt"

Poetry: Laura Hu, " Image of a Dragonfly"

Fiction: Timothy Liu, "iLost: A tale for our Time"

2017 Winners

Poetry: Karen Pham, "on loving a falling star"

Prose: Daniel McAndrew, "Insect Sisyphus"

2016 Winners

Poetry: Matthew Lim, "Encounter"

Prose: Sirus Han, "Silent Goodbyes"


Hallet Smith Prize

The Hallett Smith Prize was established in 1997 to commemorate Professor Smith's long career as one of this century's most distinguished Renaissance scholars. The cash prize is awarded by the literature faculty to a student who writes the finest essay on Shakespeare.

2018 Winner

Reeti Gulati, "The Rose of Human Emotion and Character in Shakespeare's Othello vs. God and Heaven in Cinthio's "A Moorish Captain" (2018)

2017 Winners

Gauri Shastri, "The Women of Othello: Shakespeare's Reinterpretation of "A Moorish Captain" (2017)

Suchita Nety, "Objects of Interpretation in Othello" (2017)


For more information about applying for these prizes, please contact us.