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Students Pen Prized Essays on Women, Palestine & Traffic

The Berea College Learning Center recently rewarded several talented writers for their contributions to the upcoming book entitled "Voices."

Five students and three staff/faculty members won awards for submitting their written pieces to the Learning Center to be judged and published.

First place winner, Beth Coleman, a freshman Political Science Education major from Mt. Vernon, Ky. wrote about the Appalachian culture that inspired her as a child. She was inspired to write "Appalachian Woman" simply because she was bored at work. "Thankfully, my labor supervisors are extremely supportive of [my] individual creative endeavors," said Coleman. Writing has always been a passion of hers and sometimes an addiction. She writes because it is her "deepest passion and conveys only the most intimate of my memories, hopes and beliefs," she said.

The second place winner was Michael Adams, a sophomore English major from Princeton, Ky. Adams wrote a poem that takes place in Palestine in the early 1990's. He was inspired to write this piece because of a presentation he saw by a woman who was in Palestine and remembers being under house arrest while kids were flying their kites out of their windows at night to express freedom. Adams does not really know why he writes but plans to keep writing because "the world is a grape; without art, it becomes a raisin," he said.

Third place winner, Robert Fox, a sophomore English major from Vienna, Va. wrote a short essay about moving from Northern Virginia to Berea. He wrote his story out of "frustration with increasing pollution and traffic in Northern Virginia." Fox comments that he writes because, "it's a good way for me to share my thoughts."

The staff and faculty winners, in no particular order, were Lesia Holder, assistant to the Dean of Labor, Betty Hibler, associate director of the Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service, and Robert Hoag, chair of the Philosophy and Religion.

Each student received a gift card to and staff/faculty winners will receive various artisan gifts.

This writing contest was the brainchild of Brad Fletcher, Senior Consultant in the Learning Center. While creating a full color magazine edition of the 2004-2005 Zephyr, an annual unjuried literary magazine put out by the Learning Center, Fletcher decided to contact alumni for submissions because of the college's sesquicentennial year. He was given a copy of "Twenty Writers Club," a book of student writing compiled in previous years. Fletcher then started picking out pieces from many different literary books compiled by Berea students, staff and faculty over the years. He focused on stories about war, racism, Appalachia and sexism and decided to link them to today with pieces from current students. "I decided to put this book together because so many pieces had commentary that was relevant to current events," Fletcher commented.

"Voices" is still being compiled and will be available sometime in February or March at the college bookstore.

For more information contact the Learning Center via email at

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