PULLMAN, Wash. – Inga Zornes, a Washington State University sophomore, and Angela Peterson, a University of Idaho sophomore, each took first place honors with their essay entries during the first Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Collegiate Essay Contest.

Each won $200, Zornes with “Weaving Music into the Dream” and Peterson for “The Wall Project,” which highlighted a group undertaking.

The writers who submitted work all shared rich personal experiences and offered practical ideas with real potential to impact today’s society, said subcommittee chair Becky Phillips. The contest theme, “Building True Community,” was based on the King quote that states, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  The contest was open to all WSU and UI students.

“A number of judges, who came from the UI, WSU in Pullman, WSU Tri-Cities and WSU Vancouver, felt honored to view the essays, saying that reading them was a positive – and even hopeful – experience,” Phillips said.

Amy McMillon, a WSU freshman, placed second ($100) with an essay that detailed her struggle with racial identity and stereotypes. Lana Brewer, a WSU sophomore, took third prize ($50) for her account of a year in Atlanta, “living just down the street” from King’s old high school.

“Overall, we think it went pretty well,” said subcommittee member Bob Beckmann. “We established a good system this year.  Recruiting participation from the other campuses did not prove to be much of a problem; they were happy to be a part of this.  It tied very well into our theme this year of building true community.”

“I would like to thank those who took the time and thoughtful effort to write the essays, as well as the hard work of all the judges,” Phillips said. “In the future we hope to open the essay contest early in fall semester, giving students more time to write and possibly allowing teachers to incorporate the essay into their course syllabus.”

The essays by Zornes and Peterson will be read aloud at the Jan. 20 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration and Distinguished Awards Banquet at the WSU Compton Union Building Ballroom.  Banquet tickets are available for $5 and may be purchased at the WSU Office of Multicultural Student Services, Lighty Student Services Building 190. 

For more information, contact Michele Beckmann at (509) 335-7852.  For complete information on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. community events, visit online at www.wsu.edu/MLK.