UW System honors essays on liberal arts education (May 20, 2008)

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May 20, 2008

UW System honors essays on liberal arts education

Cheryl K. Davis

Katie Jo Pockat

Vidhya Raju

MADISON—Three undergraduate students from the University of Wisconsin System will be honored through the third annual UW System Liberal Arts Scholarship Competition, established to support and promote liberal education throughout the state’s public university system. 

For the essay competition, students were invited to imagine themselves as a graduating senior giving advice to a younger sibling on how best to navigate college to reap the benefits of a liberal education.  Three students were selected for outstanding essays on the value of a liberal arts education in the 21st century.  This year’s recipients are:

  • Cheryl K. Davis, UW-Oshkosh, for “The Choices of Success”
  • Katie Jo Pockat, UW-Marinette, for “To My Dear Little Brother:  Everything You Must Know About Your Liberal Education”
  • Vidhya Raju, UW-Madison, for “An Engineer’s Advice:  a Discussion about College and the Value of a Liberal Arts Education”

Each winner will receive a $2,000 scholarship to help support their undergraduate education.  In addition to the three scholarship recipients, three essay writers earned honorable mentions:  Madeleine Dungy, UW-Madison; Maria Lind, UW-Eau Claire; and Rose Steiner, UW-Washington County. 

“The scholarship competition highlights the outstanding students we are privileged to educate at each of our campuses,” said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly.  “It also highlights the extent to which a liberal arts and science education provides students with the critical thinking, communication and problem-solving skills they need to succeed in the knowledge-driven economy of the 21st Century. As their essays demonstrate, this year’s scholarship recipients are truly exemplary.”

Sponsored by the UW System Advisory Group on the Liberal Arts, the competition is funded with private funds. It is one aspect of the UW System’s partnership in the national Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) campaign, sponsored by the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U).

The LEAP campaign seeks to spark public debate about the kinds of knowledge, skills, habits of mind, and values that students need in their future roles as citizens. The effort focuses on essential learning outcomes for all students, whatever their field of study.

In a national survey commissioned by AAC&U, employers and business leaders stressed the importance of providing today’s college students with versatile knowledge and skills, with more emphasis on helping students put their knowledge and skills to practical use in “real-world” settings.

In the survey, 56 percent of employers thought universities should focus on providing all students with a well-rounded education—broad knowledge and skills that apply to a variety of fields. In that same survey, 63 percent of employers believed that recent college graduates do not have the skills they need to succeed in today’s global economy.

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More information:


Media Contact:
David F. Giroux
UW System
608-262-4464 (office)