KSC sophomore Kalila Brooks was awarded first place in Keene State’s newly implanted first -year essay contest, where she was given a four hundred dollar cash prize, introduced at this year’s convocation, and lead the freshman clap in during orientation.
Halfway through her first semester of college in the Fall of 2017, Brooks was told about a newly introduced essay contest designed for first year students only. She could submit any type of writing that she would complete during her first year at Keene State in any ITW or 100 level ISP class.
“I thought it was a little intimidating at first, I didn’t think I was going to submit my essay let alone win first place which was pretty cool” said Brooks.
“Having an essay contest for first year students only is awesome because it shows that the work we are doing is meaningful and that we put a lot of work in too, not just juniors or seniors.”
Keene State has never had an award specifically for First Year students but as of last year, Associate Professor Elizabeth Dolinger will have changed that. Professor Dolinger reached out to a research Vendor, Credo Reference database, which it is a compilation of 800 reference books, and asked for small prizes such as stress balls, note pads, and pens to give to students as incentive for the ITW pilot program that Keene State wanted to start. This pilot program would give students more time in the Mason Library to help with their research skills. To her surprise, Credo Reference offered a better prize, a cash prize of 500 dollars and asked to partner with Keene State College and in return, they asked for the names and contact
information of the winners.
Celia Rabinowitz, Dean of Mason Library, believes that this is a great way for incoming first year students to see that their work still matters even though they are only just beginning their collegiate career.
“I looked around the room at all the students during convocation and I said, this could be you next year” Rabinowitz said, “we are all about getting students engaged and when they are here for their first year that they come back for their second year. We want to show these first years that we acknowledge really excellent student work and we don’t wait until your juniors or seniors to do it. “
Keene State put together a panel of judges including Professor Dolinger, Professor Long, Director of Integrative Studies Program, and Dr. Terabassi, Director of the Writing Center, to read all essay submissions. This past year, there were two honorable mention essay who each received a 50 dollar cash reward, and Kalila Brooks who received the 400 dollar cash reward as well as leading the clap in and awarded at freshman convocation. Keene State has partnered with Credo Reference and has a contract with them and the Writing Award for the next five years at Keene State College.
Cailla Prisco can be contacted at