Aetna Graduate Critical Writing & Teaching of Writing Prizes Open

It’s April, the cruelest month (especially for academics).  Apparently, poet T.S. Eliot knew a thing or two.  But what he might not have also known is this: There Are Prizes!!

Yes, it’s true!

It’s time to start thinking about two significant prizes for UConn graduate students.


Aetna Graduate Teaching of Writing Award

Prize: Maximum $500 for one recipient; smaller amounts may be given to multiple recipients. Winners will also be featured at a planned Fall 2023 Aetna Graduate writing event. Submit award materials to:

Deadline:  Monday, May 8, 2023

Eligibility: Open to any currently-enrolled graduate student teaching a writing course in any department or program at UConn.

This award is sponsored by the Aetna Chair of Writing and recognizes the dedication and innovation of graduate students who teach writing at the University of Connecticut.

This award is open to any currently enrolled graduate student teaching a writing course (as instructor of record), regardless of departmental or programmatic affiliation.

The Aetna Graduate Teaching Award is usually given to one Storrs graduate teaching assistant each year. Honorable Mentions can also be awarded.

The nominees go through an engaged evaluation process, including an assessment of several different teaching-related documents. The winner is selected by a committee of faculty and Aetna Advisory Board members. The maximum award comes with a cash prize of $500. If multiple winners are selected, the committee will decide how to allocate prize money.

Application Instructions


Two (2) of the four (4) suggested documents should be submitted:

  1. A teaching philosophy/statement
  2. An annotated sample assignment (annotations should elaborate on thought process/reasoning in creating that assignment and perhaps also how students responded to it)
  3. An annotated syllabus (annotations should elaborate on thought process/reasoning)
  4. An annotated response to a piece of student writing (annotations should elaborate on thought process/reasoning). All student identification must be removed. An annotated document that includes the student information in any way can not be accepted for the submission.

One recommendation or evaluation element from somebody familiar with your teaching. This could be a letter of recommendation from a professor, advisor, student, or even SET results.

Please send at least two of the four suggested documents, preferably as one file, to Indicate “Aetna Graduate Teaching Award Applicant” in your email header.


Aetna Graduate Writing Award

Prize: Winners receive a cash prize (up to $500) and will recognized at a planned Fall 2023 Aetna Graduate Award ceremony.  They will also be recorded in the annual Aetna Chair Report to the UConn Board of Trustees and UConn Foundation.

Submit award materials to: 

Deadline:  Mon. May 8, 2023

Eligibility: All graduate students at all UConn campuses

This award is sponsored by the Aetna Chair of Writing and recognizes excellence in writing for critical research and nonfiction composed by a graduate student.


  • Applicants may submit any unpublished critical essay written for a course or independently.
  • If the graduate applicant is graduating in May 2023, they are not eligible for this award.  Funding can only be given to active graduate students on contract/payroll for 2023-2024.
  • Please include the course, instructor, and semester for which the paper (in first draft) was written; or indicate that the submission was completed outside of coursework.
  • Name of the author/person submitting should be anonymized from the actual document (including the document properties)
  • Dissertation chapters (or partial chapters) may be submitted.
  • The essay may be under editorial/publication review, but if accepted for publication elsewhere, it must be withdrawn from this contest.
  • Only one essay per student may be submitted per year/awards cycle.
  • Submission must have been written during a specific time frame for the annual award. Currently: Spring 2022, Summer 2022, Fall 2023, Spring 2023.
  • Submissions should not exceed 20 pages (10-20 pages is suggested).
  • A brief ABSTRACT (100-250 words) should also be submitted and included at the start of the document.