2014 MLK Essay Contest winners announced

A record number of essays were received for the 2014 MLK Essay Contest, which invited students, faculty and staff to write essays reflecting on the application of Martin Luther King Jr.’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 helping increase the number of entries and campus sponsors supporting the program.

Contest winners were announced at the MLK Convocation on Jan. 24 at 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, “Unity Where There is Not Uniformity.”
  • Staff: Venota Pride, human resources, “Merging Americas.”
  • Graduate/Professional Student: Abby Omojola, School of Law, “Two Worlds.”
  • Undergraduate Student: Justine Ly, nutritional biochemistry and metabolism, “Tolerating Love.”

The second place winners ($500 prize) are:

  • Faculty: Wells Addington, lecturer in the Department of English, “The Spectacle of Poverty.”
  • Staff: Melissa Persensky, enrollment management, “Dr. King’s Stance on Birth Control: How Far We’ve Come and Have Yet to Go.”
  • Graduate/Professional Student: Sam Duncan, Department of History, “Two Americas, One Dream.”
  • Undergraduate Student: Elizabeth Huddleston, theater and psychology, “And Dr. King Was Right: Time Has Not Done Away With the Other America.”

The following contestants received honorable mention:


  • Karen Beckwith, the Flora Stone Mather Professor of Political Science and director of curriculum review
  • Susanne Vees-Gulani, associate professor of comparative literature and German
  • Brian Gran, professor of sociology and law


  • Shannon Fujimura, School of Medicine
  • James Izrael, SAGES
  • Lauren Kallie, pediatric dentistry


  • Jonathan Kinser, history
  • Michael Bane, music and musicology
  • Sarah Park, school of dental medicine
  • Alicia Smith, sociology

Undergraduate Student:

  • Temi Omilabu, anthropology and biochemistry
  • Ben Botsford, cognitive science
  • Colin Worden, economics and philosophy
  • Eliana Fabiyi, theater and medical anthropology
  • Rebecca Arko, nursing
  • Stephen Kolison, psychology