Two MIT undergraduates win 2014 Kelly Essay Awards
Leonid Grinberg and Natasha Balwit


The School is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2014 Kelly Essay Award: Leonid Grinberg '14 is the winner of the Kelly prize, and Natasha Balwit '16 has received the Honorable Mention.

The Kelly Essay award honors outstanding achievement in writing by MIT undergraduate students, awarding two prizes of up to $800 each for essays on subjects in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. The award is one indication of the high value MIT places on the ability to write and communicate well, skills that are vital for understanding, sharing, and galvanizing support for valuable ideas and research.  

All forms of non-fiction prose are eligible for consideration for the Kelly Essay Prize. In addition to submitting research essays written for SHASS subjects, students may submit works in these genres: personal essays, memoir, cultural commentary, creative non-fiction, travel writing, field reports, and science journalism.

The following commentary on the winning essays is by the 2014 Kelly Award judges.   

Leonid Grinberg '14
 | Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

"Fumbling the Torch of Civilization: MIT and the Tragedy of Aaron Swartz"  — The committee thought this piece read like a draft for a New Yorker or Atlantic essay, a long-form piece assimilating a wide range of material and weaving together multiple strands of the story to illuminate its complexities. The essay is a considerable achievement for an undergraduate, a mature and thoughtful piece worthy of distinction.  —  commentary by the Kelly Essay Award judges


Honorable Mention
Natasha Balwit '16
| Urban Studies and Planning

Sufi Road: Voices of Torreon — A bold experiment in creative non-fictional prose, “Sufi Road” is a truly accomplished piece of work for a young writer. The storytelling is compelling, the character development (particularly the narrator's but also other key family members) is strong, and the writing fluid and quite beautiful. The committee particularly appreciated the innovative use of multiple voices in Part I as prelude to the first-person narration of Part II.  —  commentary by the Kelly Essay Award judges




About the Kelly Essay Prize

The Kelly Essay Prize is distinctive in being the only SHASS writing award open to all students engaged in HASS-related studies, with no further restriction on topic and content. Faculty are encouraged to identify high-quality undergraduate essays written for courses they offer, and help students develop them for submission to the Kelly Essay Prize competition.  

About the Kelly Essay Prize

Kelly Essay Prize Application