UCSB’s writing program honored its top student writers at the 16th annual Celebration of Excellence in Business Communication awards on Friday.

The event bestowed thousands of dollars in cash prizes and mentorships to students for their sustainable business proposals, fundraising ideas and entrepreneurial plans. The ceremony awarded students with honors including the Schwartz Family Endowed Awards for Outstanding Entrepreneurial Business Plans, the Guffey Excellence in Business Communication awards and various grants from student-funded campus environmental group The Green Initiative Fund.

Fourth-year English major Christie Braun won the $300 first-place prize in the Guffey Excellence in Business Communication Awards — presented to fundraising proposals in honor of Mary Ellen Guffey — for her letter and brochure benefitting the local nonprofit pet adoption service provider K-9 PALS. Braun said the prize will fuel her future professional endeavors.

“I’m just so honored and excited,” said Braun. “This award really helps me get to where I want to go.”

Second and third-place prizes went to fourth-year environmental studies major Jennifer Verhines and fourth-year business economics and accounting major Kristyne Wada respectively.

Awards for Excellence in Professional Communication for Sustainability went to student group “Recycled Elegance” for Best Sustainable Business Plan, “ReCrate” for Best Communication Plan for Sustainability, Michelle Chan for Best Promotional Plan for Sustainability and “EcoFest: A Celebration of Sustainability” for Best Proposal for Sustainability.

Accounting graduate student Jason Van Renken said his team, pet rental company PAWsome Pals, competed against more than 100 other applicants for the Schwartz Family Endowed Awards for OEBP grand prize of $1,000.

“It’s very exciting because none of us ever thought our plan would make it this far,” Van Renken said. “It took a lot of deep research to develop something, and our adviser, Auli Ek, just kept on encouraging us and pushing us to take a chance and go out on a limb, and look where it got us.”

Third-year business economics major Breyana Meeks, a fellow PAWsome Pals group member, said the company’s success is partly due to its unique business offer.

“There really isn’t anything like PAWsome Pals out there,” Meeks said. “We worked so hard to put together something great, and I’m glad it paid off.”