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November 20, 2012

ULM announces freshman essay contest winners

ULM Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Eric Pani honored the winners of ULM's Freshman Best Essay Contest during a special recognition ceremony Nov. 19 in the ULM Library.

The essay contest is held in conjunction with ULM's Summer Reading program, which is designed to introduce first-year students to intellectual exchange at ULM.

Freshman English students wrote essays based on the summer reading book, "THE PACT: Three Young Men Make a promise and Fulfill a Dream," by Doctors Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt.

Crystal Curry, a psychology major from Monroe, won first place and $250 for her essay, "The Little Things;" Joel Missioni, a pre-nursing major from Bossier City, won second place and $150 for his essay, "Falling to Earth;" and Ashley Lyons, a mass communications major from Bossier City, won third place and $100 for her essay, "The Day My Nose Ring Shook the World."

Curry's essay focused on the "small things" that mean so much to individuals, especially in difficult times. Entitled "The Little Things," the essay described Crystal's grief on the day her mother passed away in a hospital ICU.

In the midst of her grieving, Curry was touched by a total stranger, who gave her a hug and told her, "[Your Mom] would want you to be happy." While she never knew the stranger's name, Curry's essay explains how touched and comforted she felt by the kind words, and how she would one day like to be as helpful as the stranger was to her.

"Is it not odd that the smallest motion from a stranger can affect who you become," said Curry, when reading her essay.

"It was such a small event, but it had such a big impact on my life. She made me realize that the nobleness of a stranger could be one of the things that someone needs most. One day I hope I can be to someone else what she was to me."

Vanelis Rivera, essay contest director and ULM English instructor, said, "I am exceptionally pleased with the submissions for the Freshman Best Essay Contest.

They reflect students' avid interest to tell their personal story, a lesson reinforced by the summer reader, 'The Pact.' I am excited to work with the summer reader next year with the hopes of providing equally engaging narratives from students."

Dr. Mary Adams, ULM associate professor of English and one of the contest judges, said students studied the effective strategies within 'The Pact' and worked to bring those qualities to their own writing.

"All of this year's submissions were worthy of praise and consideration, but the winning essays demonstrate a very high level of writing. I have served as a judge for several years, and this is truly the strongest collection of papers that I have seen. Certainly, 'The Pact' has had a lot to do with the success of this unit. Students were able to connect with the authors' stories of struggle, inspiration, and perseverance. Through those connections, the students have woven their own rich and meaningful texts."

For more about ULM's Summer Reading Program, visit:

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