The University of Wisconsin-Platteville's Writing Center announced the three student winners of the spring 2014 essay contest on April 30, in the Platteville Rooms at the Markee Pioneer Student Center.
Each year, the Writing Center essay contest asks students to analyze or reflect upon a topic of current importance. This year, students had to write an argumentative essay of approximately 1,000 words that answered the question: Does evidence suggest that "winning at all costs" is a common mentality throughout the United States?
The topic tied into the UW-Platteville fall 2013 Campus Read book, "Scoreboard, Baby." In the book, authors explored how a Division I football program and those associated with it placed a football victory over accountability for crimes and violations.
"In reading the papers, the judges said the strongest responses were those that most effectively explored the balance between success and consideration for ethical living," said Dr. Kory Wein, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Education, who served as the master of ceremonies.
Connie Spyropoulos, a junior English major with an emphasis in secondary education from Bartlett, won the first place prize of $500. Her essay discussed how winning at all costs pervades through higher education as students compete for top academic honors and for employment opportunities. She also looked at the long-term consequences of this mentality and how it continues, as evidenced in politics and corporate greed.
Brooks Lutes, a senior biology major from Shullsburg, Wis., won the second place prize of $300. Lutes' essay discussed how the winning-at-all-costs mentality has changed how success is determined, giving many examples in athletics, business, politics and academia. In his essay, Lutes explained that society celebrates the triumphs of the victor and only minimally questions what it took to get there, and said while this type of mentality brings about success as it is defined by society, it also brings into question moral and ethical practices.
Jena Garrett, a senior English major with an emphasis in secondary education from East Moline, won the third place prize of $200. Garrett's essay delved into athletic sponsorship and advertising, noting that few youth realize the stylized images they see of athletes on television often hide shortcomings, particularly off the playing field. She also explored how the money-making ability of sports has taken athletes from being role models to being businesspeople seeking monetary rewards, no matter the cost.
Essay contest judges included UW-Platteville's Dr. Sharon Klavins, professor of biology; Dr. Adam Stanley, professor of history; Dr. James Romesburg, English instructor; Jaclyn Esqueda, Women in EMS special programs manager; Morgan Spitzer, coordinator of the Writing Center; Katherine Andersen, student representative from the Writing Center; and Raven Weems, student representative from the Writing Center. Joshua Hess, Writing and Tutoring Resources program assistant, also helped with the contest.
The contest was made possible with the support of Dr. Mittie Nimocks Den Herder, UW-Platteville's provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, and the UW-Platteville Foundation.
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