The Parkland College Blog

Diverse Students Win Faculty-Created Writer's Competition

Students win Diana McDonald Writer's Challenge awards of $500 each

Four Parkland College students recently earned prizes in an annual writing competition created by a retired faculty member.
 
Winning Diana McDonald Writer's Challenge awards of $500 each for their essays were Kennedy Coffie of Chicago for "Mastering Language"; Sami Issa of Syria for "Moving Up the Ladder"; Kaitlyn Marsh of Weldon, Illinois, for "A Necessary Evil"; and Elie Ngandu of the Republic of Congo for "America's Immigrant Dream."
 
Parkland English Professor Seth Mendelowitz, who serves as coordinator for the contest, said the competition usually awards one or two winners each year but that this year was special due to the strength and diversity of the submissions.
 
"Our winners ranged from a student temporarily living here during conflicts in his home country to a student from a small town in rural Illinois," he said. "Given evidence of excessive time spent by young people with more clipped forms of communication (via social media), and given the resultant widespread concern that most young people are not developing their reading and writing skills, it is exciting that we have had such a strong pool of submissions this year."
 
In fall 2011, to foster students' interests in writing, McDonald, a former composition instructor at Parkland, began awarding essays that display a strong sense of voice and unique perspective, written with precise word choice, clear organization, and grammatical and mechanical correctness.
 
According to the contest website, judges look for essays that "connect the writer's experiences, insights, and observations to larger ongoing conversations about the world—about politics, philosophy, science, media, justice, family, race, happiness, the environment, or some other important component of our culture and/or world." Mendelowitz said this year's judges regretted not awarding several other submissions that also displayed originality, interesting life experiences, and clear writing.
 
Students taking a Humanities department course may submit essays for the McDonald Writer's Challenge. Faculty judges select a winner near the end of May. Besides a cash award, the winning essay is also published on SPARK, Parkland's online academic repository. SPARK now includes the new winning essays:

  • Mastering Language: Coffie’s essay offers thoughtful reflections on her journeys between different English language communities, demonstrating how our way of speaking can tie us to a community and sense of communal identity, while shutting us off from other communities and identities. https://spark.parkland.edu/mcdonald_award/8/
  • Moving Up the Ladder: Having made the U.S. his temporary home due to civil war in Syria, Issa details his fears and confusions at his job due to his rudimentary English skills as well as the strategies he employed to overcome his fears and improve his speaking and comprehension. https://spark.parkland.edu/mcdonald_award/7/
  • A Necessary Evil: In this well-researched essay, Kaitlyn Marsh offers a balanced analysis of the effects of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Illnesses (DSM), which has promoted humane and consistent treatment of people with mental illness, while also enabling "big pharma" to generate a dramatic increase in the numbers of Americans being diagnosed with and medicated for mental illness.  https://spark.parkland.edu/mcdonald_award/6/
  • America's Immigrant Dream: An immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ngandu acknowledges sympathy for Americans who come from a line of long-oppressed forebearers while describing the contrasting perception and experience of many immigrants, including himself, for whom the U.S. is a land of opportunity.  https://spark.parkland.edu/mcdonald_award/5/

Yesterday evening at the 2018 Parkland Graphic Design Juried Exhibition opening reception, six students split $1,100 in cash awards for exhibiting excellent work.

Every spring, the students in Parkland’s Graphic Design and Interactive Design Programs showcase their best work in the Giertz Gallery at Parkland College. 177 entries were received this year and a jury of Parkland’s design faculty selected 130 of those for inclusion in the show.

This year, we had $1,100 in prize money available. Most of the awards were donated by local businesses and supporters of Parkland’s Graphic Design and Interactive Design programs. These friends include Surface 51, The Robeson Family, [co][lab], the Champaign County Stormwater Partnership, and the Champaign-Urbana Design Org (CUDO), who all donated cash awards. CUDO was also the co-sponsor of the opening reception.

Two industry professionals were invited to come in to select the award winners. This year’s judges were David Michael Moore, a freelance graphic designer, illustrator & facilitator; and Natalie Fiol, a graphic designer at the University of Illinois’s College of Fine + Applied Arts and resident photographer of Dance at Illinois. Natalie was also an alumni of Parkland’s Graphic Design program from 2012. Their task was to find the 11 best pieces in the show and then select the one piece that would receive the coveted “best of show” award.

“I felt creatively rejuvenated and inspired after judging the 2018 Parkland College Graphic Design Student Show,” said Natalie Fiol. “Overall, the work features a nice mix of playful, classic, and contemporary styles and the illustration work was particularly strong this year. It was an honor to have a voice in the selection of this year’s awards.”

“I was very impressed with the selection for this year’s show,” added David Michael Moore. “I’m excited for this next wave of design coming from Parkland College!”

More than 200 industry professionals, alumni, friends, family, and students attended the reception. At 6:30 p.m., each of the winners were acknowledged with a round of applause, a certificate, and a check.

Here’s who won (clicking on an image below will open a larger image in a new window):


• Graphic Design Best of Show

Coloring book by Kristy Lau

Coloring book by Kristy Lau

 


• Illustration Best of Show (sponsored by The Robeson Family)

Illustration by Abby Eichstedt

Illustration by Abby Eichstedt

 


• President’s Award of Excellence

Poster by Brooke Armstrong

Poster by Brooke Armstrong

 


• Surface 51 Award of Excellence

Album cover by Abby Eichstedt

Album cover by Abby Eichstedt

 


• Surface 51 Excellence in Typography Award

Brand promotion by Brooke Armstrong

Branding Campaign by Brooke Armstrong

 


• [co][lab] Award of Excellence

Logo by Arnie Lack

Logo by Arnie Lack

 


• CUDO Award of Excellence

Poster by Kristy Lau

Poster by Kristy Lau

 


• Electric Pictures Award of Excellence

Website by Justin Klett

Website by Justin Klett

 


• Champaign County Stormwater Partnership Environmental Stewardship Award

Branding Campaign by Kristy Lau

Branding Campaign by Kristy Lau

 


• David M. and Shirley A. Jones Student Art Award

Poster by

Poster by Miriam Tworek-hofstetter

 


• Fine & Applied Arts Department Chair Award

Menu by Brooke Armstrong

Menu by Brooke Armstraong

 

The 2018 Parkland Graphic Design Student Juried Exhibition will continue in Parkland’s Giertz Gallery through May 31. Summer gallery hours are Monday–Thursday, 10am–7pm (closed Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

To see more examples of student work from Parkland’s Graphic Design and Interactive Design programs, please visit our virtual galleries.

[Paul Young is the program director of Graphic Design at Parkland College.]

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