Writing Across the Curriculum committee announces writing contest winners

By Grace Manthey

The Quinnipiac University Writing Across the Curriculum committee announced its undergraduate writing contest winners Thursday morning. The winners of the contest are Danielle Radeke, Maily Tran and Jordan Wasylak.

The contest’s theme this year, “Compassion,” is a common thread throughout the university. Research and Writing Institute director, Paul Pasquaretta, who carefully combed through every submission, said the value has been a focus since 2016.

“I think it has something to do with the fact that life is stressful and difficult. One way to help each other is the ability to respond compassionately to each other and have the capacity for that feeling,” Pasquaretta said.

Contest winner and QU senior Danielle Radeke

Contest winner and QU senior Danielle Radeke

WAC is a common program among universities, according to psychology Professor Christopher Hakala, the executive director for the Center for Teaching and Learning. It’s goal is to help faculty and students use their experiences in different classes to make their writing stronger.

Hakala says Quinnipiac does it better than many other schools.

“Instead of making it extra work we make it more of a process. We encourage students to use writing as a tool to think about things differently,” he said.

Hakala admitted that many students don’t necessarily always enjoy the program, but senior Danielle Radeke said her experiences as a nursing major has made a big difference on the way she thinks about writing.

“My patient experiences have opened my eyes to the reality that everyone has a story," Radeke said. "I have also witnessed how one person bearing the burden with the person grieving really lightens the load. So nursing has made me who I am as a person and a writer.”

Radeke has been doing theater since she was six, and plans to continue after college in addition to her nursing career. She submitted a play she wrote for one of her theater classes to the WAC contest, called “Colby’s Trucks.”

Pasquaretta said Radeke’s play stood out because she was able bring together lots of different parts of her education.

Contest winner and QU freshman Maily Tran

Contest winner and QU freshman Maily Tran

As a senior, Radeke has been able to refine her interdisciplinary techniques. Another winner, physical therapy major Maily Tran said because she is a freshman she hasn’t taken many classes related to her major yet. But her other classes have opened her eyes to recognizing and understanding different experiences.

Tran submitted a poem titled, “Capable of Compassion.”

“No matter who we are, different ages, from different backgrounds, we can experience suffering in various forms. But, as humans, compassion can always to be there to help ease that suffering,” Tran said about the main theme of her work.

She said much of her inspiration came from her Introduction to Honors course, a zero credit class taken by all freshman honors students in to supplement their First Year Seminar. For class they were required to attend a presentation led by Scarlett Lewis, the mother of Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis.

“She emphasized the importance of compassion, among other factors such as social emotional learning to the development of a happier, healthier population in our world,” Tran said.

Contest winner and QU freshman Jordan Wasylak

Contest winner and QU freshman Jordan Wasylak

The contest’s third winner, Jordan Wasylak, is also a freshman, but a film major. She saw the contest as motivation to do some creative writing.

Wasylak’s piece, “Blue” is a story about the relationship between a young girl and an older homeless man.

“I wanted to emphasize the innocence of children and how, for the most part, they are born with kindness until people tell them to treat certain people differently,” she said.   

Wasylak said an English class she took last semester helped her learn to write without fear of messing up. She is now thinking about minoring in English.

The three winners received $150, a gift card to the Quinnipiac Bookstore, and a book related to their winning piece of writing. The QUWAC will schedule a ceremony for the winners later in the spring semester. Pasquaretta said he hopes to have a date early next week.