UW System honors students for essays on value of liberal education (May 10, 2012)

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May 10, 2012

UW System honors students for essays on value of liberal education

Madison, Wis. – University of Wisconsin System President Kevin P. Reilly announced three undergraduate student winners of the seventh annual UW System Liberal Arts Essay Scholarship Competition. The competition, which was established to support and promote liberal education throughout the state’s public university system, invited students to reflect on education as something that happens not only within but also beyond the classroom.  Students wrote about extra-curricular experiences they have had – in student organizations, study abroad, service learning, undergraduate research, or student performances – that helped them to understand and appreciate the value and purpose of liberal education.

Three students have been honored for writing outstanding essays:

  • Jacquelyn Bonavia, UW-Madison, “Closing the Doors of Our Classrooms, Opening Our Minds to the World”
  • Mai Doua Yang, UW-Marathon County, “I Little Slave Had Enriched My Liberal Education”
  • Gregory T. Nelson, UW-Eau Claire, “Me, My Science and Society”

Winners will each receive a $2,000 scholarship to help fund the remainder of their undergraduate education.  Honorable mentions were awarded also to three student writers:  Sarah Holm, UW-Eau Claire; Jocelyn Meltesen, UW-Baraboo/Sauk County; and David Menees, UW-Milwaukee.

“Students from 13 UW institutions took up the challenge to write essays for this year’s competition, and the results highlight for all of us the creative and insightful students we are privileged to have at our institutions,” Reilly said. “Employers consistently tell us that they need employees who can think critically, communicate clearly, and solve problems creatively. That’s what a liberal arts education provides, and these essays are gratifying evidence that these students are getting one.” 

The annual competition, which is funded by private funds, is part of the UW System’s Liberal Education Initiative, which seeks to make the goals and outcomes of liberal arts education accessible and valuable to all UW students, regardless of major or degree program.  Through a partnership with the Association of American Colleges & Universities and its national campaign, Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP), the initiative further seeks to spark public debate about the kinds of knowledge and skills that are needed to prepare today’s students for their future roles as citizens.  For more information about the initiative and to see the winning essays, visit


David Giroux
UW System
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