2017 Leland Essay Contest Winners

Essays from the Bruce H. Leland Essay Contest

Magdelyn Hammond Helwig, Director, Western Writing Program

The following student essays are the winning essays from the Bruce H. Leland Essay Contest. We are excited to continue the tradition of showcasing the work of our student writers who are the heart of our writing program.

All students in writing courses in the Western Writing Program are eligible to enter the Leland Essay Contest. First, second, and third place prizes are awarded for each course: English 100 for developing writers, English 180 for first-year students, and English 280 for sophomores. A panel of volunteer judges who teach these courses selects the winning essays.

Special thanks go to the dedicated and talented students at Western Illinois University who submitted the fruits of their labor to this contest as well as to the instructors who spend countless hours encouraging, supporting, and inspiring our students. Your commitment to excellence is visible in these pages.

Thanks also go to Christy Wherley, who worked tirelessly to coordinate the contest this year, to the Writing Program’s amazing secretary, to graduate student Lisa Elleson, who edited the winning essays and designed the online journal, and to Tiffany Dimmick, who coordinated submission, and to the judges who volunteered their time and expertise. Finally, thanks to the Department of English’s Writing Committee— Christy Wherley, chair, Neil Baird, Dan Barclay, Jose Fernandez, Becky Wort, and Dakota Carlson—and to the professors of the winning students—Marjorie Allison, Barbara Ashwood, Merrill Cole, Jose Fernandez, Kathleen O’Donnell-Brown, Brenda Porter, and Jacqueline S. Wilson—and to all the English professors who teach writing for their hard work with our students.


Penny Clause                          Brenda Porter                          Bill Thompson

Bill Knox                                 Kristin Sheppard                     Jacqueline S. Wilson

Barbara Lawhorn                 Bonnie Sonnek                       Jared Worley

ENG 100:
1st Place: Judson Henry, “BFC Pathfinders”–Jacque Wilson
2nd Place: Jeresha Davenport, “Never Good Enough”–Jacque Wilson
3rd Place: Asya Morrison, “The Inside Scoop on Air Force Conversations”–Jacque Wilson
Judges: Bill Knox, Brenda Porter, and Kirstin Shepard
ENG 180:
1st Place: Kaleb Wadsworth, “Title: Literacy Narrative”–Brenda Porter
2nd Place: Andrea Pryzbyleski, “Opioid Epidemic in Illinois”–Jose Fernandez
3rd Place: Kelli Thompson, “My Journey of Self-Awareness”–Barbara Ashwood
Judges: Penny Clause, Jacque Wilson, and Bonnie Sonnek
ENG 280
1st Place: Frankie Alexander, “Is the U.S. Government Illegitimate?”–Kathleen O’Donnell-Brown
2nd Place: Ryan Zurek, “Rebellions, Sexuality, and Advertising”–Merrill Cole
3rd Place: Lauren Wood, “American did Right by Interning Japanese”–Marjorie Allison
Judges: Barbara Lawhorn, Bill Thompson, and Jared Worley