University Park, IL,
09:19 AM

Mining for Gold: 2019 Literacy Autobiographical Contest

As GSU marks its 50th anniversary in 2019, students, faculty, and staff celebrated with golden advice on the importance of writing, though it often means crafting perfectly imperfect prose.

“The meaning of life is like gold ore that’s buried deep inside you,’’ Mort Maimon, husband of GSU President Elaine Maimon, said to students gathered for the 5th Annual Literacy Autobiographical Contest Luncheon.

“Language, particularly writing, is the instrument you use to get it to the surface. Write always. Make it a habit.”

In their first year at GSU, students created a pattern of revising literacy autobiographies, taking feedback to build on their strengths as writers to improve on the previous draft.

Each incoming class has the opportunity to enter the Literacy Autobiography Contest in the fall. In the spring, students go back and apply the final polish before submitting for cash prizes, which range from $200 for the first-place winner to $25 for an honorable mention. All students receive certificates of participation.

Dr. Mort Maimon and President Elaine Maimon, both English professors, sponsor the contest—an investment in the future, they said.

“As a professor of English, I have one main goal, and that goal is to help students become independent writers and thinkers. I want you to have the ability to say what you want, to say it in an effective way, and to think it through.”

During the luncheon, students shared their thoughts on the evolution of their writing skills since they first arrived at GSU.

“I’m more confident in my writing, and I now know writing is not something that can be done right or wrong. It's your own perspective,’’ said Kiara Johnson, whose essay won first place. Her essay, “My Literacy: A History”, describes the power of literature to open new worlds. Johnson also reflected on contemporary challenges to reading and literacy in her essay.

Winning second- and third-place prizes were Danny Nguyen and Anyinniana Little. Rachel Beckmann won an honorable mention prize.

At the luncheon, student Elizabeth Stevens echoed the sentiments of other freshmen who have blossomed as critical thinkers and writers in their first year on campus.

“I feel like I’ve improved so much just from high school to now. This time has been amazing.”