Winners of the 2019 AEL Collegiate Essay Competition Announced

Pepperdine University Libraries is pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 AEL Collegiate Essay Competition. The annual contest, supported by Americanism Educational Leaders, prompts undergraduate students to write short essays on topics that foster discovery, understanding, and appreciation of some aspect of the American experience. This year’s three finalists were selected from a pool of over 150 competitive essays submitted by students from across the United States, and each finalist is awarded a cash prize. Read below to meet our three winners.

First Place ($2,500 award): Misty Wade

Misty is a senior at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas, majoring in secondary special education. She lives with two children — aged sixteen and eleven — her partner Eduardo, two cats, and a three-legged dog. She has been a Girl Scout volunteer for many years. This summer she will be working as a summer camp business director near Glen Rose. She enjoys archery, painting, and trying new things. After graduating, Misty hopes to teach either Texas History or in a resource classroom for behaviorally challenged students.

Second Place ($1,500 award): Sophia Klomparens

Sophia is a 22-year-old junior at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, majoring in the study of English and Latin literature. She believes that the most important debates take place in the battleground of art and culture, and so her combined love for language and tradition has led her to seek fresh ways to express timeless truths, with a special emphasis on reaching the culture through art. After graduating from Hillsdale, Sophia hopes to shape the next generation through a teaching position and publish her work—both fiction and non-fiction.

Third Place ($1,000 award): Geddy Davis

Geddy Davis is a sophomore at The Ohio State University. He currently attends the regional campus in Lima, Ohio, but he plans to transfer to the flagship campus in Columbus next fall. His major is in Atmospheric Science, a field that has fascinated him since he was a child. Along with his interest in weather, Geddy also enjoys hobbies such as photography, music, geography, reading, and traveling. He hopes to continue pursuing his passion and someday have an exciting career as a forecast meteorologist.

You can learn more about the AEL Collegiate Essay Competition at We will be announcing the essay prompt for the 2020 Competition in January.

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Winners of the 2019 AEL Collegiate Essay Competition Announced