By Margaret McKinney
New Mexico Highlands University student Whitley Coca received a Distinction in Academic Writing Award for her essay, which was published in the university’s textbook, Cracking the Codes: A Guide to English Composition.
Coca, a junior from Cimarron, wrote her Hurricane Katrina essay while taking freshman composition in 2009. A team of English faculty reviewed student essays and selected Coca’s for inclusion in the department’s latest English composition textbook that was published in 2010.
The textbook is used in freshman composition courses at Highlands.
“It’s hard for students to grasp the writing concepts of genre, discourse community, and audience,” said English professor Holly Middleton, who directs the university’s composition program. “Whitley applied these complex concepts so well in her essay.
“It’s motivating, and interesting, for our students when they see other Highlands’ students achieve on assignments, and be published,” Middleton said.
Coca said, “it’s an honor to have my writing published. It all goes back to my freshman composition teacher, Robyn Rose, and the way she taught the course. I was hesitant to submit my essay, and she encouraged me.”
On April 4, Coca was awarded a certificate, a $75 check, and a $25 gift certificate donated by Tome on the Range.
Coca, 20, is a familiar face to Highlands’ sports fans as the starting point guard for the Cowgirls basketball team.