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Three Students Win Liberal Arts Essay Competition

RELEASED: March 11, 2008

EAU CLAIRE — Three University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students were selected as campus winners of the Third Annual Liberal Arts Essay Scholarship Competition, sponsored by the UW System Advisory Group on the Liberal Arts.

Maria Lind, Elizabeth Madison and Sarah Holm each will receive a $1,000 scholarship from the UW-Eau Claire Foundation to be used for UW-Eau Claire educational expenses during the 2008-09 academic year.

The winners also will be UW-Eau Claire's nominees for the UW System essay competition. Two UW System winners will be chosen this spring to receive $2,000 scholarships.

To enter the competition, students needed a GPA of at least 3.4, to have completed at least 60 credit hours by the end of the fall 2007 semester, and to have at least one semester left as a full-time student. Students had to write essays as if they were a graduating senior with a younger sibling who would start college next year. They had to give their sibling advice and describe the experiences they should anticipate or — seek out — that might afford a richer comprehension of liberal education's ideals.

Senior Maria Lind, a secondary English education major from Onalaska, wrote her essay, "College: In the Eye of the Beholder," in first person, as if speaking directly to a younger sister.

"What I've discovered about college is that it's all in the eye of the beholder," wrote Lind. "Two students can be in the same class and have a radically different experience!"

Lind said one student may review a syllabus the first day of class and be excited about the interesting things she'll learn, while another might look at the same syllabus and focus only on the amount of work required. Only you can choose what kind of student you'll be, Lind wrote, and asked, "Which one do you think will get more out of her education?" She said her sister should be open to new ideas, but question everything; take some classes just for fun, but explore all options related to her major; study abroad and befriend international students; be open to meeting different types of people; and get involved in organizations on and off campus.

"Wake up every day with a sense of anticipation....Keep your eyes wide open and take advantage of every opportunity!" Lind wrote.

Senior Elizabeth Madison, a comprehensive special education major from Rice Lake, took a different approach, explaining what she would say to her sister, who really is about to start school at a UW campus this fall. In "Do: The Risk You Have to Take" she said she heard the term liberal education when she was a freshman but didn't think about what it really meant.

"As I am nearing the end of my time as a college student, I realize the immense importance of the liberal education I received," wrote Madison. "I realize how much I have changed because of it. I realize how much more prepared and ready for life I am. My hope is that with this advice, my sister will take advantage of everything she possibly can..."

Like Lind, Madison told her sister to join organizations that allow for community involvement; take risks in class selection and participation; and take advantage of all the university offers, from forums and debates to plays and extracurricular clubs.

Madison wrote, "the education you are about to embark on is a gift you can give yourself. The university has created an institution well-suited to help you become a well-rounded, empowered individual. All you have to do is take the risk and be part of it."

Senior Sarah Holm, a comprehensive social work major from Long Lake, Minn., took yet another approach in "The Flavors, Favorites and Fullness of a Liberal Arts Education." She wrote a short story with two fictional characters: an older brother and his younger sister. When Elliot and Marie visit an ice cream shop, Marie insists on buying a cone that includes all 15 flavors; Elliot is happy with five. Holm used the ice cream as a metaphor, with Elliot predicting his sister will begin college exuberantly trying everything, but that she'll eventually learn to choose among the many opportunities to find the ones that are right for her.

"Value may not be found in 15 flavors that make you sick, Marie, but perhaps, in five that make you full," Elliot said. "For me, friends, diverse classes, making time instead of wasting it, service and study abroad made college a rich, challenging and life-altering experience."

For more information on the UW System Liberal Education Initiative or the Liberal Arts Essay Competition, visit their Web site.

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NW/JB

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