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2008 Essay Contest Winners
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Complete text of the winning essays (pdf)

  • Alexandar Reinaldo Perez - Alexandar Reinaldo Perez, who comes from Denver, Colorado, is enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences where he is a prospective Chemistry major.
  • Gabriella Elizabeth Bensur - Gabriella Elizabeth Bensur is from Erie, Pennsylvania and is enrolled in the College of Engineering as an Electrical and Computer major.  She plans to concentrate in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Philosophy.
  • Marc Leh - Marc Leh is a freshman in the College of Human Ecology studying Policy Analysis and Management. His other academic interests include government, psychology, religion, and developmental economics. He is a member of the Cornell College Republicans and Cornell’s Lightweight Rowing team. Marc lives in Los Angeles, California where he likes to play guitar, surf, and hang out with friends in his free time.
  • Mauricio Vieto - Mauricio Vieto is an international student from San Jose, Costa Rica. Currently enrolled in the Architecture program, he says that his "experience in the U.S. has been culturally fascinating and academically challenging." He has always been very interested in history as an area of study, particularly because it is constantly being reassessed in ways that force us to erase our cultural biases and paradigms.
  • Xiao Wang - Jimmy Xiao Wang is enrolled in the College of Arts & Sciences studying biological sciences. He was born in China but grew up in Vancouver, Canada. In his free time, he enjoys hanging out with friends, writing, theatre, student publications, math and science, government and debate, and playing video games, badminton, and the piano. He thinks that being an international student allowed him to view Lincoln at Gettysburg from a different perspective.
  • Kate Orlofsky - Kate Orlofsky is a freshman in CALS from Surry, ME. She is currently majoring in animal science and would like to pursue her interests in veterinary medicine, agricultural development, and wildlife and natural resource conservation. She is a member of the Block & Bridle Club, Pre-Vet Society, and CU Jazz.
  • Miles Ludek - Miles Ludek is from Rochester, New York, and is currently undecided in the College of Arts and Sciences. He is thinking of majoring in English, but says "there are so many exciting options!"
  • Gabrielle Yo - Gabrielle Yo grew up outside of Los Angeles, California. She is currently enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences where she intends to major in Economics.
  • Matthew Christensen - Matt Christensen is enrolled in the Engineering School. He has not yet declared a major but is considering Engineering Physics and pre-med. Matt's hometown is Wheaton, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago.
  • Steven Xu - Steven Xu was born in China and has lived in Australia and now in Canada. He is enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences, where he studies economics and computer science. Xu says he's never enjoyed academic writing, but has always been enthralled by the emotional power of inspirational and creative writing, particularly this opportunity to exercise his creativity, which allowed him to imitate one of the best speech writers and orators in American history.
  • Honorable Mention

  • Olivia Carman - Olivia Carman, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, is from Wilson, New York. Her intended major is economics, but her interests also include history and political science.
  • Benjamin D. Walker - Benjamin Walker grew up in Cobleskill, New York and completed an apprenticeship as a Toolmaker (specialized machinist) as well as an A. O. S. in Manufacturing Technical Systems from Hudson Valley Community College, Troy, NY. He served four year enlistment with the United States Marine Corps and was deployed overseas. Having completed A. S. in Social Science from SUNY Cobleskill, he transferred as a sophomore to the ILR School in the fall of 2008.
  • John Kirk - John Kirk, from Corning, New York, is a sophomore transfer student majoring in Atmospheric Science. Among other things, John's interests include history and travel. An Eagle Scout, John once camped and hiked at the battlefields of Gettysburg National Military Park.
  • Elsie Shogren - Elsie Shogren, from Nebraska, is majoring in biology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She also works in the Cornell Museum of Vertebrates in the Lab of Ornithology and is a member of the Women's Freshman Novice Crew Team. She is considering specializing in Evolutionary Biology.
  • Ragini Sharma - Ragini Sharma was born in Lucknow, India, moved to the United States when she was six, and has lived in Plainsboro, NJ since then. She is a student in the College of Engineering at Cornell, hoping to study Electrical Engineering.

Study Questions (pdf)