PROVO, Utah (March 18, 2016) – In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the College of Humanities, the English Department sponsored an essay contest asking current and former students to write about how they have seen the humanities in their lives.
The winners of the student and alumni divisions were asked to read their winning essays at the 2016 English Symposium.
Bentley Snow, the alumni winner, presented his essay “Holy,” in which he explored spirituality during his time in Jerusalem and reconciling feelings of inadequacy. Cassie Keller Cole, the judge of the contest, described the essay as “a ruminative exploration of what it means to be acceptable before the Lord. It journeys through how we grasp and understand holiness while allowing ourselves to receive the mercies extended to us in the present. The essay shows how we learn how to believe amidst insecurities and imperfections until we ultimately learn how to love. It is humble, thorough and well written.”
Snow’s essay lived up to it’s review: “God is merciful; why not soothe me after all my efforts here in a place so significant, just for the poetry of it? Why not give me relief here?” he wrote.
Jonathan Francisco Garcia, the student winner, presented his essay “Humanities Plus, Minus, and Multiply.” In the piece, he delves into his family history and how language and stories shape identity. Cole said the essay “is a beautifully organized and compassionately considered piece. It’s intimacy and honesty invites the reader to explore their own personal questions and histories. The tender prose contends with the meaning of forgiveness, prosperity and fidelity. It is written with hope for the future despite past struggles, exemplifying what it means to be human.”
Near the end of the essay, Garcia read: “Inside their pages I found underlined and defined words. Now I know those were the signs of the acculturation process, frozen in ink.”
Congratulations to all the winners of the contest! The winning essays will be available soon through the English department.
–Alison Siggard (B.A. English Education ’17)
Alison covers the English Department for the College of Humanities. She is a senior studying English teaching with a minor in music.