Parkland students receive writing awards

Peter Floess

Staff Writer    

Earlier this year, two Parkland students, Huizi Hu and Richard Kumbi, received writing awards. Hu, who won the McDonald Writer’s Challenge for her essay

Richard Kumpi

Richard Kumpi

titled “The Power of Novels,” and Kumbi, who won the Faculty’s Choice Writing Award for his essay titled “The Value of a Liberal Education for a Successful and Satisfying Career,” both demonstrated strong writing qualities that set their writing samples above the rest.

“The committee values the sorts of standard qualities that we aim to teach students: display of strong critical thinking, organization, cohesiveness, precise wording, grammatical and mechanical correctness, and so on,” said Seth Mendelowitz, committee chair for the McDonald Writer’s Challenge Award. “The McDonald Writer’s Award should be received by an essay that displays unique perspective and/or problem-solving, that doesn’t simply offer predictable arguments or observations, and that possesses a strong sense of voice.”

The McDonald Writer’s Challenge Award, founded by Diana McDonald, was for the purpose of sharing her greatest pleasure (teaching English as a Second Language classes). She wanted to share the learning process with students as they began to think analytically and objectively about ideas, events, culture, and themselves.

“I have watched many students struggle with their drafts to finally satisfy me and themselves with what they had produced,” said McDonald. “I wished then I could reward them with something more than a grade. Hence, I created the Writer’s Challenge Award.”

Mendelowitz believes that Hu’s essay shows the items that he values in a well-written essay. “She continually plays off of some opposite assumption,” said Medolowitz. “She explains that growing up in China, textbooks were considered useful, while novels were considered to be a distraction to one’s studies.”

Hu began studying English in kindergarten. She believes to be a good writer, a person must be confident and think carefully about their topic. She is currently reading a novel called “Empresses in the Palace.” Hu says the novel tells the story of “the emperor and empresses in Qing dynasty. It’s a great novel that reveals how empresses lived in a feudal society.”

Dr. Sue Kuykendall is the chair of the committee for the Faculty’s Choice Writing Award says the committee was “looking for student work that not only met all the basic criteria for successful writing – logical organization, full development, absence of errors – but also demonstrated the ability to articulate a strong position on a topic, explain surrounding issues, examine and critique assumptions, draw logical conclusions, and provide reasonable evidence for the position.”

Kumpi’s essay offered meaningful discussion of the topic in a creative and compelling manner; it did not simply repeat obvious ideas.  “Beyond that, Richard created a voice in his essay, a sense of a persona behind the words, through consistency of personal style and unity of purpose,” said Kuykendall.

An example of Kumpi’s voice is at the very beginning of his essay, where he uses a French proverb, that he describes as showing “that students need well-structured knowledge, a well-formed mind distinguished by the intelligence that enables them to think critically, to easily adapt to circumstances, and to quickly assimilate what they don’t know.” This was an excellent way to grab the reader’s attention. Kumpi uses of a proverb set his essay apart from many other essays on this topic and make the essay unique.

Kumpi also interacts with sources; he does not just quote his sources or take their ideas at face value. One of his sources is a columnist from the “Northern Star” newspaper, Alyssa Pracz, who wrote an article titled “General Education Courses Are a Waste of Time and Money”. Kumpi writes that he feels her “position is illogical.”