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Writing prize goes to teacher-turned-student

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Writing prize goes to teacher-turned-student

A change of direction has paid off for a former associate professor in computer science who has been awarded a top undergraduate prize as a student of the School of English and Media Studies.

Dr Ray Kemp, who previously worked in the former Institute of Information Sciences and Technology at Massey, has been awarded the RG Frean prize for critical or expository work.

The prize is awarded each year to the two best undergraduate works, with one also given in creative writing.

Dr Kemp’s essay Did Hedda Gabler and Miss Julie have to Die was written for the third-year modern drama paper.

He says studying English has been a great way to keep his mind ticking over in retirement.

“I had always enjoyed English at school but was brought up in an era where you were either specialised in the sciences or the arts with no opportunity to mix and match,” he says. “It is said that in cricket, a bowler gets more satisfaction from getting a good score with the bat than by taking a lot of wickets. In a completely different context I can now appreciate that sentiment.”

The prize for creative writing was won by Tina Makereti for her work Kuia, who says the award has given her confidence as a writer a great boost.

“Feedback in this form is very encouraging, particularly as writing can be such an isolated activity,” Ms Makereti (Ngati Tuwharetoa, Te Ati Awa, Ngati Rangatahi and Moriori) says. “Sometimes it is only through affirmation of this kind that you learn whether your work connects with others in a meaningful way.”

English lecturer Dr Sarah Ross helped judge the awards.

“The standard of entries was very high this year and the school is delighted to be able to celebrate students’ achievements with this award in two vital branches of the programme.”

The prize, worth $1000 to each winner, is named after Professor Roly Frean who was the University’s foundation Professor of English.


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