Three student essays were honored at the 20th annual Audley Webster Memorial Essay Contest on Tuesday.
The contest awards first and second places as well as an honorable mention to three students who are selected for writing notable essays in English Composition classes.
The event is in honor of Audley Webster, a beloved former faculty member of UM’s English Department. Webster’s daughter Mary Webster-Taylor spoke at the event, describing her father as “tireless” and “devoted.”
“Few people can be called a scholar and a gentleman,” said Webster-Taylor near the end of her speech. “He was one of those few.”
Krystine Smith was awarded first place, Christian Mock received second place, and Corey Janson was given an honorable mention. Their work was picked out of nearly 100 essays total by a panel of 24 faculty members and graduate students.
The English professors of the three students attended the event. Senior Lecturer Martha Otis taught Smith and Mock, while Janson studied under Charlotte Rogers.
The two professors introduced their prospective students, and then each winner got a chance to read a part of their essay to the hushed crowd.
President Donna E. Shalala was also in attendance, commemorating the writers and presenting them each with their awards.
“I am a strong supporter of commitment to humanities,” Shalala said, addressing the crowd.
Janson, a senior Foote Fellow studying psychology and political science, wrote his on Robert Lowe’s “For the Union Dead,” while Mock, a finance student, wrote his essay on dreaming.
Smith, a former member of the Marine Corps who studies music therapy, chose to write her essay on the effects music therapy has on veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In her essay, Smith included anecdotes about people in her own life who served and current suffer from PTSD.
Smith is herself a musician; she was a flutist in the Marine Corps band. After finishing her term, Smith came to UM knowing that she wanted to study music therapy.
As she explained in her essay, however, she was unsure what exactly would be her essay topic until she had a conversation with a friend who suffered from PTSD.
“I really want to help in any way I can,” Smith said.
She went on to describe how people often “look down” on those with PTSD and explained that it is hard for those who have not served to understand the long-term effects it can have.
Joanna Johnson, the director of English Composition, commended Smith for including real-life perspectives in her essay.
“The way in which she wove personal experience with research was very nicely done,” said Johnson, who described the work of all three writers as “phenomenal.”
Audley Webster Essay Winners:
The 20th annual Audley Webster Memorial Essay Contest recognizes students’ essays written in English Composition (ENG 105 and 106) courses.
UM President Donna E. Shalala attended and talked about the importance of the humanities.
First place: Krystine Smith
Second place: Christian Mock
Honorable mention: Corey Janson