Fall 2016 WCI Writing Contest



Personal Essay: "A Day in the Life" by June'ay Oliver

My name is June’ay. I’m from Greene, NY. I’m currently a sophomore at the University at Albany (May 2019). I am currently double majoring and working towards a Bachelor of Science in both Criminal Justice and Sociology with a Minor in Women’s studies. My post-graduation plans are to attend Law school and specialize in criminal law. I enjoy singing, music of any kind, anything to do with dogs, and being with my friends and family.

I wrote my essay about a personal experience that I encountered going to high school and being a minority in small town America. I was asked to elaborate on and connect this experience to a current social issue. I have had so many experiences throughout my life, good and bad, but this one memory I could still remember so vividly that I thought I could use it to relate to a deeper issue. I chose race as my issue because many people don’t understand what it is like to be a minority. It was not meant to insult or offend, merely to give insight and perspective. My main point was to encourage the acceptance of differences because that is, in my opinion, the only road to real change.



Analysis: “The Standardized Ideology as Viewed by Newman” by Simi Kaur



Argument/Conversation: “Paying For Perceptions” by Samantha Spoor

My name is Sam, and I was born and raised outside of Syracuse, New York, in farm-country. I graduated with a class of forty-seven people, so my experience at the University at Albany has been quite the shock, and a welcomed change of scenery! I am currently a sophomore in the Honors College, majoring in Psychology and Human Development with a concentration in Counseling Psychology. I’m an Undergraduate Research Assistant in Dr. Anderson’s Weight and Eating Disorders Lab. I’m also involved in Middle Earth as a Senior Peer Wellness Ambassador (PWA) and in the Department of Residential Life (ResLife) as a Resident Assistant on Dutch Quad. Next year I will be working for ResLife again as a Housing Manager on Freedom Apartments! I plan on attending graduate school for Clinical Psychology—hopefully somewhere warmer! I am especially interested in Social Psychology as it pertains to college students, the phenomenon of Benign Masochism coined by Paul Rozin, Ph.D. (2013), eating pathology, and in Mental Health Therapy. In my free time, I enjoy riding my horse, Stormy (above) and my job caring for Therapy Horses during school breaks.

My Essay entitled “Paying for Perceptions” gave me an opportunity to reflect on my experience through Middle Earth, and as a first year student, about what it means to be in the majority of college students at a school notorious for partying. While my ideas and paper don’t necessarily reflect those of Middle Earth or anyone else affiliated with the organization, it’s my experience with being a PWA and exposure to the data itself (but mostly my own research, of course) that really shaped my intrinsic interest in the topic. When you don’t party excessively, but you’re fed with misinformation such as “Everyone does it,” it can really make you question yourself and your role at school. I know that for me, learning that it’s completely normal not to spend a disproportionate amount of time drinking or going out was a huge relief; it was freeing. And that’s not to say that I want to assign a moral value to those things-college is, after all, about experimenting and having fun for some people. But it’s comforting to have an anchor, to feel grounded in my purpose here. My hope is that my essay has a similar effect on its readers as being a part of Middle Earth has had on me





Personal Essay:


“Patria – native country, homeland” by Arturo Lua Castillo
“The Cold War According to Stan” by Maksim Papenkov

Honorable Mentions:

“The Big. The Beautiful. The Beastly.” by Sylvia Ayoub
“Everyone Knows What the Terrorists Want” by Eliza Shulman



“Western Destruction” by Dane Warren
“Conform or Consider Yourself Warned – What Role Does the Media Play in Americanization ” by Daniella Gelman

Honorable Mentions:
“Ta-Nehisi Coates” by Temilola Adeosun
“We Abandoned Them For Science” by Maksim Papenkov
“The Words of a Photograph” by Andrew Galfano



“Birth Beyond Death: Why We Cannot Live Without Poetry” by Claire McCulley
“Hot Damn Hoover Dam” by Maksim Papencov

Honorable Mentions:
“Shifting Educational Values: The U.S. vs. Eastern Asia” by Simi Kaur
“The Ethics of Biotechnology” by Dane Warren
“Challenges for Transgender Individuals at College” by Lisa Dobrowolsky