Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

To ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition.

IMSA Graduate Wins Prestigious National Writing Award

IMSA Class of 2010 graduate Dawna Bagherian is the only student in the country to win the 2010 Norman Mailer National High School Nonfiction Writing Award, presented by The Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony in partnership with the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

2010 IMSA Graduate Dawna Bagherian, recipient of the 2010 Norman Mailer National High School Nonfiction Writing Award

Bagherian, a pre-med major at Dartmouth College, will receive $5,000 as a result of the award, to be presented to her at the Center's second annual benefit gala in New York City.  The annual gala attracts more than 500 distinguished guests from the world's of literature, culture, business and philanthropy including Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, Booker Prize winners and the National Book Award winners.

Bagherian said her award-winning entry, High Above the Ground and Two Finches, was a shorter version of her Student Inquiry and Research project conducted during her junior year, under the guidance of IMSA English Faculty Member Tracy Townsend.  She said Townsend was the one who encouraged her to enter the competition.

"Ms. Townsend did so much for me in terms of getting me through the actual writing process and giving me resources and some really great readings to inspire me," Bagherian said.  "She really taught me a lot, not just about how I should write, but about how I already do write.  She helped me find my voice."

More than 3,000 high school students, in addition to two-year and four-year college students, submitted entries for the award.  Dawna also was featured in the Beacon-News for her outstanding accomplishment.

For more information on The Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony visit