Freshman wins writing contest

Rosanna Cravens, Lamp staff

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Ashley Berry, a freshman studying chemistry, is moving on as a statewide finalist with her original work on “How community college changed my life.”

The Paul Simon Student Essay Contest is an annual writing competition held by the Illinois Community College Trustees Association. Each ICCTA member college selects the finest student submission and sends it and a student entry form to be entered in the statewide competition.

“This college changed my life by making me realize my mental health and happiness are upmost important in order to be successful in my studies,” Berry wrote of LLCC.

The winner of the statewide competition will receive a stipend for educational costs in the 2019 fall semester and will be invited to an awards banquet by the ICCTA.

Berry, who first heard about the contest via the fliers on campus, said she was shocked when notified she had won first place at Lincoln Land. She had not initially planned on entering the contest but decided, a mere two days before the deadline, that she should, despite what promised to be fierce competition.

She will receive a $75 gift card and prizes from the bookstore.

Tiffany Elliot judges the submissions with fellow writing center specialists Laurie Myers and Lisa Avendano based on writing style, clarity and relevance, with stress on grammar and punctuation.

Elliot says holding the competition is a way to shine a light on the writing center’s services and get students involved.

Tyler Berola, an SIUC graduate with a degree in psychology, won second place.

Berola said he was honored to be chosen as a runner-up. He will receive a $25 gift card and prizes from the bookstore.

“I wanted to know that my ability as a writer has improved since I was a high schooler,” said Emily Russel, whose submission took third place.

She will receive prizes from the bookstore.

In her essay, Berry delves into the difficulties first-year students sometimes encounter when they enroll directly into a large university, as she did. She speaks about life in a dormitory and mental health challenges that can arise.

“I want to congratulate Ashley for getting first and wish her the best of luck at the state level!” Berola said.

Berry’s essay concluded,“I have gained my happiness and passion back, and I am ready to take on the world, all thanks to my community college.”

Rosanna Cravens can be reached at [email protected]