Storytelling is an ancient element of public affairs. As part of its Story in the Public Square initiative, the Pell Center and The Providence Journal challenged undergraduate college students to write a story that could inspire public action around an issue important to military veterans.
Grand prize: "A Boy"
Sophie Zander, Ursinus College
A junior at Ursinus, Zander is double majoring in English and politics, with a minor in environmental studies. In addition to interning at the HIV/AIDS Legal Centre in Sydney, Australia, as part of her semester-abroad experience, her on-campus involvements include serving as the Ursinus pre-legal studies intern; vice president of the Haines-Barnard Pre-Law Society; on the Journal of Political Science and International Relations editorial boards; and with the National Model United Nations committee. Zander has served on the Lantern Literary editorial board and written for the Grizzly newspaper. She will intern in Washington, D.C., this summer, facilitated by her selection as a Whitman Summer Scholar, working to address public policy issues. Zander has a dual interest in addressing social injustice and a passion for writing that she hopes will both serve to make a positive impact someday.
Honorable mention: "Un-breakable Embrace"
Ron Farina, Central Connecticut State University
Farina first attended Central Connecticut State in 1965 before joining the Marine Corps and serving in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967. After a successful career as a national corporate headhunter and president/owner of Management Search, he returned to Central Connecticut State to fulfill a lifetime goal of earning a college degree. Currently in his senior year, Farina is a creative nonfiction major and music minor. He has published two essays on Vietnam: "Jerry Winn, A Vietnam Odyssey" and "A Keyhole," published in the anthology "In-Country and Back." Excerpts from "A Keyhole" were featured on NPR with John Dankowski. Farina is currently working on a memoir, "Full Time, A Vietnam Veteran's Experience Returning to College."
Honorable mention: "I Brought my Brother's Body Home"
Madelin Schlenz, Community College of Rhode Island
Currently a sophomore at the Community College of Rhode Island, Schlenz plans to transfer to Rhode Island College this fall to pursue bachelor's degrees in education and English. She began her degree at the Metropolitan State University of Denver while working full-time as an administrative assistant and customer service representative at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Schlenz recently relocated to Rhode Island to be closer to her family. She currently works part time at the Boys and Girls Club of Cumberland and hopes to eventually pursue a master's degree in expressive arts therapy.