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2021 FI Student Essay Contest Winners Announced!

The Focused Inquiry Student Engagement Committee (SEC) is pleased to announce the contest winners and finalists of the 2021 Edition of the FI Student Contests. Please join us in congratulating all of them!

Category 1: Narrative, Reflective, Expository, or Personal Writing (UNIV 111/112, usually unit 1)

  • 1st Place: Ashley Vu, “Eyes” (written for Professor Leslie Cohen-Gee’s UNIV 111)
  • 2nd Place: Sweta Parajuli, “A Tale of Two Rooms” (written for Professor Lindsay Chudzik’s UNIV 112)
  • 3rd Place: Ashlyn Dearing, “Drifted Away with the Smoke” (written for Professor Allison Tharp’s UNIV 111)
  • Finalist: Duy Bui, “The Fantasy Tyrant” (written for Professor Catherine Malone’s UNIV 111)
  • Finalist: Matty Smith, “Flying the Coop” (written for Professor Troy Martin’s UNIV 111)
  • Finalist: Danielle Generous, “House at the End of the Cul-de-sac” (written for Professor Lindsay Chudzik’s UNIV 112)
  • Finalist: Jessica Pavela, “Goodby Gabby” (written for Professor Nikki Fernandes’ UNIV 111)

Category 2: Analysis, Synthesis, or Research Writing (UNIV 111/112, usually unit 2)

  • 1st Place: Kiya Lawler, “With Great Power Comes No Responsibility: The Ways in Which Subordinate Groups Must Change Everything, While Dominant Groups Command Everything” (written for Professor Kimberly Zicafoose’s UNIV 112)
  • 2nd Place: Aleena Milburn, “Unsightly Struggles in the Subordinate College Life” (written for Professor Kimberly Zicafoose’s UNIV 112)
  • 3rd Place: Zeeshan Athar, “The ‘Cost’ of Democracy and What It Means to Voters” (written for Professor Christopher Jackson’s UNIV 111)
  • Finalist: Shafia Khan, “It’s A Man’s World” (written for Professor Christopher Martiniano’s UNIV 111)

Category 3: Researched Argument (UNIV 111/112):

  • 1st Place: Gracie Berneche, “Supersize the Media” (written for Professor Lindsay Chudzik’s UNIV 112)
  • 2nd Place: Paola Veliz, “Lack of Empathy: The Crude Reality of the Nuisance Property Ordinance” (written for Professor Melissa Johnson’s UNIV 111)
  • 3rd Place: Sophia Macchiarolo, “The Intersectionality of Race and Gender and its Relationship to Workplace Discrimination” (written for Professor Lindsay Chudzik’s UNIV 112)
  • Finalist: Kiya Lawler, “Murderous Legends: Hollywood and the Media’s Portrayal of Serial Killers” (written for Professor Kimberly Zicafoose’s UNIV 112)
  • Finalist: Amelia Roberts, “Segregation of Gifted Programs: A Disservice to Children” (written for Professor Kimberly Zicafoose’s UNIV 112)
  • Finalist: Eric Couture, “The American Dream is Dead” (written for Professor Virginia Totaro’s UNIV 111)

Category 4: Multimodal Project (UNIV 111/112):

  • 1st Place: Allison Fletcher, “Legacy” (composed for Professor Leslie Cohen-Gee’s UNIV 112)
  • 2nd Place: Aleena Milburn, “The Valiant Green Train” (composed for Professor Kimberly Zicafoose’s UNIV 112)
  • 3rd Place: Chloe Landry, “From Blindness to Sight” (composed for Professor Leslie Cohen-Gee’s UNIV 112)
  • Finalist: Caleb Rivera, “Peer Through Texas Beach” (composed for Professor Troy Martin’s UNIV 112)
  • Finalist: Wyatt Vogan, “Blindness to Seeing” (composed for Professor Leslie Cohen-Gee’s UNIV 112)

Outstanding Collaborative Project: This project was submitted for Category 4 (Multimodal Project [UNIV 111/112]). While the FI Contests does not at this time accept collaborative projects, this particular collaborative project impressed our judges so much that we wanted to recognize it separately.

  • Emily Downs, Danielle Generous, Loubna Ouchrif, and Katie Tuten, “What’s Your Voting Plan?” (composed for Professor Lindsay Chudzik’s UNIV 112)

Category 5: Researched Argument (UNIV 200):

  • 1st Place: Jessica A. Seppi, “Save the Bees to Save the World” (written for Professor Vicki Pallo’s UNIV 200)
  • 2nd Place: Avery Shover, “The Relationship Between Bee Population Decline and the Four Spheres of Earth” (written for Professor Vicki Pallo’s UNIV 200)
  • 3rd Place: Sean Youngstone, “Whither Germanizatsiya?: Kaliningrad as a Locus of Constructed Memory, History, and Identity” (written for Professor Kirk Richardson’s UNIV 200)
  • Finalist: Ivy McGovern, “Emotional Fetishism: How the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Changed Womanhood” (written for Professor Emily Csukardi’s UNIV 200)

Category 6: Multimodal Project or Transmediation (UNIV 200):

  • 1st Place: Abiola Ogungbade, “‘Masking’ Our True Identities: Do We Know Who They Are?” (composed for Professor Michaux Dempster’s UNIV 200)
  • 2nd Place: Robert Kendall, “EV Charger Map” (composed for Professor Vicki Pallo’s UNIV 200)
  • 3rd Place: Amber Ekizoglu, “The Gatekeepers” (composed for Professor William Notter’s UNIV 200)
  • Finalist: Julia Koklauner, “Hope/Hate: Let’s Get Real about Mental Health Stigma” (composed for Professor Michaux Dempster’s UNIV 200)
  • Finalist: Nisarg Kakadia, “Depleting Water and What You Can Do to Help” (composed for Professor Michaux Dempster’s UNIV 200)
  • Finalist: Anh Truong, “Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG) Surgery: It’s Not Worth the Risk” (composed for Professor Matthew Vechinski’s UNIV 200)

Textbook Cover Art Contest:

  • 1st Place: Eileen Morley, “Franklin and Laurel, Johnson and Brandt” (instructor: Joseph Schaub)

“What Is Focused Inquiry?” Essay Contest:

  • 1st Place: Leila Mohamoud, “What Is Focused Inquiry?” (instructors: Tara Bray, Christopher Jackson)

And here are our contest winners and finalists–and their instructors (in Google Doc Form)!

In addition, we’d like to extend our sincere thanks to all of the participants in this year’s contests: your contributions helped to support and nurture our community of writers and composers within the Focused Inquiry Department.

The winning compositions will be published on the VCU Writes! website under the “Student Work” tab. First- and Second-Place compositions for a selection of our contest categories will be published in the 2021-2022 edition of the FI Textbook.

For more information about the FI Student Contests (and to make a submission for the next edition of the contests), please see our website.

Finally: To our contest First-Round Readers and Final-Round Judges: Mike Abelson, Tara Burke, Tara Bray, Lindsay Chudzik, Jason Coats, Michaux Dempster, Jamie Fueglein, Melissa Johnson, Beth Kreydatus, Hilary Levinson, Katie Logan, Mike McIntyre, Tom Nelson, Amber Pearson, Allison Tharp, and Paul Yoon–

Thank you so much for giving your time, energy, and attention to the contest. Your extra work makes this contest–this little writing community–possible.

Yours sincerely,

The FI Student Engagement Committee

Christopher Jackson (Co-Chair)

Judy Topich (Co-Chair)

Nadia Inserra

Larry Williams

Kim Zicafoose

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