2024 PW Minor Award Winners

Each year the Writing Program recognizes outstanding student writers in the Professional Writing Minor with the Ellen Reid Writing Award and the First Generation Scholarship Award. Both awards are made possible through generous gifts from donors who support excellence among UCSB student writers.


The Ellen Reid Writing Award is given each year to support a UCSB student pursuing a career that involves writing or publishing. The award was established by Doug and Irene Fogelson to honor the legacy of Ellen Reid, Santa Barbara’s “book shepherd”. Ms. Reid was an award-winning writer and a consultant to independent authors for many years. The award continues her passion for guiding beginning writers to academic and professional success

Kyra Karatsu (Award Recipient)Kyra Karatsu is a fourth-year student originally from Santa Clarita, CA. After transferring from College of the Canyons in 2022, Kyra found her place at UCSB as a Communication major and Professional Writing minor in the Civic Engagement track. Hailing from Japanese, Uchinanchu, and German ancestry, Kyra’s writing often focuses on themes surrounding family, identity, & culture. Her work has been featured in the Rafu Shimpo’s Through the Fire column, the Japanese American National Museum’s Discover Nikkei, and on Joshua Trujillo’s podcast, Still Searching. Kyra also continues to work at College of the Canyons, where she edits free, openly-licensed textbooks for the Online Education department. She is invested in equal education practices and has spoken as a speaker at the CAL OER 2022 Conference and the California Community College Board of Governors meeting in support of Zero-Textbook-Cost (ZTC) programs. Currently, Kyra is interested in building a career that puts education at the center of her focus and hopes to continue advocating for equitable, accessible learning opportunities.

Kristen Wu (First Runner Up) - 

Elaina Smolin (Second Runner Up) - Elaina Smolin is an undergraduate Writing and Literature major at the University of California, Santa Barbara’s prestigious College of Creative Studies. She is also in the Professional Writing Minor’s Civic Engagement track, where she works with the Appalachian Prison Book Project. Elaina is an M. Garren Tinney Fellow and a 2023 Raab Writing Fellow. She is also the Managing Editor of Spectrum Literary Journal. Her work can be found in Catalyst: Literary Arts Magazine, The Pandemic Stories Initiative, The Conference on College Composition and Communication, and Spectrum Literary Journal. When she isn’t writing, Elaina is at the mercy of her cats, Rook and Trout, or searching for the perfect Joan Didion sunglasses.


This award celebrates the accomplishments of our outstanding first-generation college students and writers. A generous Professional Writing Minor Alumnus has provided a gift to the Writing Program to support first-generation students in the Minor.

Rachel Lim - Rachel Yoon Seo Lim is a Political Science and Communications double major at UCSB. She is also pursuing the Professional Writing Minor on the Business Communication track. Currently, she is the Marketing and Communications Lead intern at the Department of Health & Wellness at UCSB. After graduating, Rachel hopes to work somewhere in political communications or for a nonprofit.

Alissa Orozco - Alissa was born and raised in Bakersfield, CA and is currently a senior at UC Santa Barbara where she is studying English and Professional Editing. She was raised by a single mother who had her at very young age. Alissa's mother is the strongest woman she knows, who put her own education on the back burner to give Alissa the best life possible. She is proud to be a first-generation student, which has made her grateful for every opportunity that has come her way. After graduating, Alissa hopes to join the journalism world where she can put her writing and editing skills to use. Recognition through this scholarship means the world to her and she would like to thank the Writing Program for this opportunity.

Recipients are selected by a panel of three independent Writing Program faculty members after a rigorous review process. The submissions were wonderful this year, reflecting the dedication and commitment of our Professional Writing Minors. Congratulations to the award recipients and thank you to all of the students who applied!