A record number of essays were received for the 2014 MLK Essay Contest. The contest invited staff, faculty and staff to write essays reflecting on the application of Dr. King's values and vision to contemporary social, political and economic issues.

This year, 122 entries were received – more than double the number of essays received in 2013. MLK Essay Coordinator Obie Okuh is credited with increasing the number of entries as well as campus sponsors supporting the program. Contest winners were announced at the MLK Convocation held January 24 at the Amasa Stone Chapel.


Below is a list of contest winners and honorable mentions:


The First Place Winners ($1,000 Prize) are:

Faculty: Sarah Gridley, Assistant Professor of English, Essay – "Unity Where There is Not Uniformity"

Staff: Venota Pride, Human Resources Department, Essay – "Merging Americas"

Graduate/Professional Student: Abby Omojola, School of Law, Essay – "Two Worlds"

Undergraduate Student: Justine Ly, Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism. Essay – "Tolerating Love"


The Second Place (Runner-Up) Winners ($500 Prize) are:

Faculty: Wells Addington, Lecturer in English Department, Essay – "The Spectacle of Poverty."

Staff: Melissa Persensky at Enrollment Management, Essay – "Dr. King's Stance on Birth Control: How Far We've Come and Have Yet to Go."
Graduate/Professional Student: Sam Duncan, History Department, Essay – "Two Americas, One Dream"
Undergraduate Student: Elizabeth Huddleston, Theatre and Psychology, Essay – "And Dr. King Was Right: Time Has Not Done Away With the Other America"

The Following Contestants Received Special Honorable Acknowledgments:

Karen Beckwith
, Flora Stone Mather Professor of Political Science and Director of Curriculum Review
Susanne Vees-Gulani, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and German at the Department of Modern Language and Literatures
Brian Gran, Professor of Sociology and Law


Shannon Fujimura, School of Medicine, FCM
James Izrael, SAGES, and
Lauren Kallie, Pediatric Dentistry


Jonathan Kinser,
Michael Bane, Music/Musicology
Sarah Park, School of Dental Medicine, and
Alicia Smith, Sociology


Undergraduate Student:
Temi Omilabu,
Anthropology and Biochemistry
Ben Botsford, Cognitive Science
Colin Worden, Economics/Philosophy
Eliana Fabiyi, Theater and Medical Anthropology
Rebecca Arko, Nursing
Stephen Kolison, Psychology




2013 Winners


Winners of the 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest were recognized during the MLK Convocation event. The contest called on faculty, staff and students to reflect on the application of King's values and vision to contemporary social, political and economic issues. Participants had to choose from one of five excerpted speeches by King, reflect on the speech and write an essay about the relevance of the values articulated in the speech to the national or global discourse.


The contest was coordinated by Diversity Fellow Obie Okuh.

Contest winners and finalists include:
Faculty Category -
- runner up, Sarah Gridley and first place, Thrity Umrigar; Staff Category -- honorable mention, Charles Greathouse; runner up, Jonathan Wehner and first place, Rich Matanowitsch;
Graduate/Professional Student Category
-- honorable mention, Benjamin Ristau; runner up, Michael Chang; and first place, James Aldridge;
Undergraduate Student Category
-- honorable mention, Ayesha Audu, Vashti Aguilar and Olivia Ortega; runner up, Elizabeth Huddleston and first place, Emeline Liu.