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St. Jerome’s University is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Betty G. Headley Senior Essay Award

St. Jerome’s University is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Betty G. Headley Senior Essay Award

Date: Thursday, March 07, 2024

Each year, the Betty G. Headley Senior Essay Award recognizes two upper-year undergraduate students whose written work embodies eloquence, originality, and persuasive power. Congratulations to Jared (Best Course Essay) and Sara (Best Personal Essay), who are the 2023 recipients of the award.


Jared's essay, "Even Saying Nothing: Sound, Silence, and the Search for Divinity in Life on Mars," traces the themes of sound and silence through a study of Tracy K. Smith's work of poetry Life on Mars, the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, and how transcendental sound and silence brings us closer to the divine. By contrast, Sara's moving essay, "Right Where You Should Be," deals with the themes of loss, grief, acceptance, and hope following the loss of a close family member. 


This year's selection committee is chaired by Michelle Atkin, MLIS, PhD, associate librarian, and includes the following voting members: Mark Spielmacher, PhD, Department of English; Chad Wriglesworth, PhD, Department of English; and Caley McCarthy, PhD, Dragen Lab assistant director and lab manager.


"It is an honour to serve as chair of this award committee at the university," says Michelle Atkin, associate librarian. "The Headley Award provides upper-year undergraduates with a unique opportunity in that it showcases both excellence in academic writing and excellence in writing about one's own story or journey. I am extremely grateful to the committee members who dedicated hours of their time to adjudicating this competition."


Each year, students follow award submission guidelines to have their essays considered by a selection committee for either the Best Course Essay or Best Personal Essay categories. Course Essays include those written for a third- or fourth-year level course taught at St. Jerome's University, the University of Waterloo, or an affiliated institution. The Best Course Essay is awarded a $1,500 prize, and the Best Personal Essay is awarded a $500 prize.