Prizes and Awards

Undergraduate Essay Awards


The Department of Spanish & Portuguese’s annual Spring Essay Prizes in the amount of $250 are presented to undergraduate students with a declared major or minor in one of our programs. Prizes are awarded for the best academic papers written initially for an upper-division course taken in the previous Spring, Winter, or Fall quarters. Papers submitted for consideration should be between 8 and 15 pages in length. The recipients are selected by a Faculty Committee and will be featured on our website. And yes, you can add the award to your resume!


Essay Contest Criteria and Submission

  • Essays should have been written for an undergraduate class taken in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese during your undergraduate career.
  • Students must be a declared Major or Minor in the Department.
  • You must obtain written support from the Faculty whose class you wrote the essay for using this Faculty Support Form, which must be included with your essay submission.
  • Students may submit only one essay total for one prize. Students may not submit essays in multiple categories or multiple essays to the same category.  Choose your very best work and submit it to the appropriate award category.
  • The Department will only accept essays written in Spring 2023 – Spring 2024.
  • Co-authored papers written for group projects are welcome! Please clearly include the names of all the students who contributed to the group project with your submission.
  • Students should take careful note of the areas covered by each prize and submit their essay to the appropriate essay category. Essays submitted for an incorrect category will be disqualified from consideration.
  • Submit the following documents in PDF format here
    • Completed Faculty Support Form 
    • Essay

The categories are:

  • Richard Reeve Essay Prize — Essay on Spanish-American literature or culture (written in English or Spanish)
  • José Rubia Barcia Essay Prize — Essay on Spanish literature (written in English or Spanish)
  • Randal Johnson Essay Prize — Essay on Luso-Brazilian literature, film, or culture (written in English or Portuguese)
  • Claudia Parodi Essay Prize — Essay in Spanish Linguistics (written in Spanish or English)
  • Dolores Huerta Community Service Prize — Essay and/or portfolio written only for the following courses SPAN M165XP, SPAN 172XP, and SPAN/PORTGSE 195 (written in English, Spanish, or Portuguese)


Richard Reeve Essay Prize — Essay on Spanish-American literature or culture

Professor Richard Reeve (1935-1992) received his BA from the University of Utah and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He taught at Ohio State University from 1966 until 1968, when he joined the faculty of UCLA’s Department of Spanish & Portuguese, where he remained until the end of his life. His scholarly interests focused primarily on twentieth-century Spanish American literature, with a special focus on contemporary Mexican writers. He published numerous articles on Mexican literature, and he was the co-editor, with Professor Gerardo Luzuriaga, of Los clásicos del teatro hispanoamericano.

José Rubia Barcia Essay Prize — Essay on Spanish literature

José Rubia Barcia (1914-1997) was a distinguished professor of 20th-century Spanish literature who also served as the chair of UCLA’s Department of Spanish & Portuguese. He was born in El Ferrol (Galicia), where a cultural center dedicated to him now houses his library and a collection of his papers. He studied Arabic and Hispano-Arabic literature at the University of Granada. After completing his degree he held important positions in the Republican Army during the Spanish Civil War and as a consequence, he went into exile, first to France and then to Cuba, and then to the United States. Here he worked in Hollywood with the Spanish film director Luis Buñuel. Barcia published a great number of books and articles on Valle Inclán, Unamuno, Federico García Lorca, and other writers of the 20th century. He was also an author of political essays. His translation of César Vallejo’s poetry, done in collaboration with Clayton Eshleman, received the “National Book Award” in 1979.

Carroll B. Johnson Outstanding Senior Award — Special Distinction

Professor Carroll B. Johnson (1938-2007) received his B.A. in Spanish from UCLA in 1960 and his Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literature from Harvard University in 1966. He joined the UCLA faculty in 1964 as an acting assistant professor. He became a full professor in 1976 and continued teaching until his death. A Los Angeles native who spent his entire academic career at UCLA, Carroll was president of the Cervantes Society of America from 1997 to 2000, editor of the scholarly journal Cervantes, and Chair of the UCLA Spanish department for an unprecedented 13 years in three separate tenures. He was an influential expert on the Spanish Golden Age known for insightful and groundbreaking research, particularly in his 1983 book Madness and Lust: A Psychoanalytical Approach to Don Quixote. He later wrote from a socioeconomic perspective in Cervantes and the Material World. Professor Johnson also excelled in the classroom, and his students praised his unfailingly generous support of their research and the demanding academic standards he set for both them and himself. He set the benchmark for academic excellence, service to the profession, university service, teaching, and collegiality.

Randal Johnson Essay Prize — Essay on Luso-Brazilian literature, film or culture

Distinguished Professor Emeritus Randal Johnson received his B.A. from the University of Texas, Arlington, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin. He taught at Rutgers University from 1977 until 1983, and at the University of Florida from 1983 until 1994, when he joined the faculty of UCLA’s Department of Spanish & Portuguese, where he remained until his retirement in 2018. While at UCLA he served as Chair of the Department of Spanish & Portuguese (1996-2001, 2013-15), Director of the University of California’s Education Abroad Program in Brazil (2002-04), Director of the Latin American Institute (2005-10), and Interim Vice Provost for International Studies (2010-11). As Director of the Latin American Institute (previously called the Latin American Center), he transformed the Program on Brazil into the Center for Brazilian Studies and the Program on Mexico into the Center for Mexican Studies, and he created what is now called the Center for Southern Cone Studies. As Director of EAP-Brazil, he established a new language and culture program in Salvador, Bahia, where he also created the department’s Summer Travel Study Program in Brazil (2000-2016). He is also responsible for establishing, in collaboration with the Brazilian Consulate-General in Los Angeles, the Brazilian Film Series (2007-present). His scholarly interests have focused primarily on twentieth-century Brazilian literature and Portuguese and Brazilian cinema, with a special focus on government film policy and the contemporary audiovisual industry in Brazil. He is the recipient of many grants and honors, including the Brazilian Order of the Southern Cross. Professor Johnson has written, co-authored, or co-edited 12 volumes and has published more than 65 essays, articles, and reviews on different aspects of Luso-Brazilian culture.

Claudia Parodi Essay Prize — Essay in Spanish Linguistics

Before her passing on November 15, 2015, Professor Claudia Parodi had a most distinguished career as a professor of Spanish Linguistics at the UCLA Department of Spanish & Portuguese. She was a member of the faculty since 1991. Born in Mexico, she began her studies at Mexico City’s Universidad Iberoamericana earning a Licenciatura in 1969, followed by an MA in Hispanic Language and Literature at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in 1972. After earning her degree, she continued research at UNAM collaborating on a study of the Spanish of Mexico City. Through the 1980s, she was both professor and researcher at Centro de Lingüística Hispánica del Instituto de Investigaciones Filológicas de la UNAM. In 1991, she earned a doctorate in Hispanic Languages and Literatures at UCLA. Professor Parodi published over ninety articles, editions, and collections on a wide variety of topics related to language, literature, and sociolinguistics. She was considered one of the outstanding contributors to Latin American Linguistics. At UCLA, she was a founding member and director of both the UCLA Centro de Estudios del Español de Estados Unidos and the UCLA Centro de Estudios Coloniales Iberoamericanos. Additionally, she assisted in initiating the UC-Mexicanistas, an inter-campus research group on Mexican Studies involving faculty and students from a wide range of academic disciplines from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. She was a most productive scholar, and an inspiring teacher who was highly admired and loved by her students. Professor Claudia Parodi’s enthusiastic dedication to the study of the Spanish language, particularly Mexican Spanish, Los Angeles Spanish, and Mexican Culture has been a constant source of inspiration for students and scholars alike. Professor Parodi was also the recipient of the UCLA Academic Senate’s Distinguished Teaching Award 2011-2012. In recognition of Professor Claudia Parodi’s extraordinary legacy to the field, this prize was created to honor students’ outstanding academic achievement in Spanish Linguistics.

Dolores Huerta Community Service Award

Dolores Huerta is a civil rights activist and community organizer. She has worked for labor rights and social justice for more than 50 years. In 1962, she and Cesar Chavez founded the United Farm Workers union. She served as vice president and played a critical role in many of the union’s accomplishments for four decades. In 2002, she received the Puffin/Nation prize for Creative Citizenship, which she used to establish the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF). DHF is connecting groundbreaking community-based organizing to state and national movements to register and educate voters, advocate for education reform, bring about infrastructure improvements in low-income communities, advocate for greater equality for the community, and create strong leadership development. She has received numerous awards, including The Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award from President Bill Clinton in 1998. In 2012, President Obama bestowed Huerta with The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States. The Dolores Huerta Community Service Award is a way to acknowledge our students’ involvement with the Latinx communities at UCLA and the greater Los Angeles area through the Community-engaged Learning Program.


Dolores Huerta Community Service Inaugural Award

Zion Gassner

Bio: Zion Gassner is a third-year student majoring in both Mathematics/Economics and Spanish. He
became interested in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese because of the linguistic aspects
of the Spanish language but has since pursued opportunities in literature and community
engagement. You might be able to find him running through Rolfe Hall to fetch the room keys
for the Spanish Club or chatting with some professors

Bridging the Digital Divide: Evaluating the Efficacy of Cell Phone Training in the Nonprofit Sector as a Method to Reduce Institutional Employment Inequalities in Los Angeles’s Latino Community

(Prof. Suhr/SPAN M165XP)

José Rubia Barcia Essay Prize

Simona Simoenova

La apropiación de la personalidad masculina por las mujeres en La Celestina

(Prof. Patiño/SPAN 135)

 Claudia Parodi Essay Prize

Anna Davies

Bio: Originally from London, England, Anna Davies is a senior at UCLA, majoring in International Development Studies and minoring in Spanish. After high school, Anna moved to Granada, Spain where she immersed herself in Spanish culture and developed a passion for the language. At UCLA, Anna has dedicated her studies to social justice, critically analyzing factors that shape global inequality. Her Spanish minor further enriched her understanding of history, as well as the transformative power of language, poetry, and art.

A Linguistic Study on the Phoneme /b/ in Spanish:The Realization of /b/ by Two Bilingual Speakers of Spanish and English

(Prof. Kim/SPAN 160)

Richard Reeve Essay Prize

Mary Ralston

Bio: Hi, I’m Mary! I am a Physiological Science major with a minor in Spanish graduating this spring! I’m originally from St. Louis, but I spent four years living in Brazil when I was younger. I also studied abroad last summer in Barcelona to fulfill some of my minor requirements, which
allowed me to develop a deeper passion for the Spanish language and culture. This year I’ve worked on numerous projects with Professor Tobin and thoroughly enjoyed his mentorship and excitement for his work. I have loved all my Spanish classes and professors at UCLA. Go Bruins!

La cultura mexicana en crisis: machismo, género y colectivismo en la novela de ficción climática, La noche en la zona, de Alberto Chimal

(Prof. Tobin/SPAN 150)

Carroll B. Johnson, Outstanding Senior Award

Mayra Elizabeth Gallo- BA: Spanish & Community & Culture and Chicana & Chicano Studies

4.0 GPA in the majors and Cumulative