Kelly Benjamin has been selected the winner of the Kishwaukee College 2020 Paul Simon Student Essay and Gandhi/King Peace Scholarship contests.
Each contest was judged blindly by two independent committees. Benjamin, of Cortland, received a $500 Kish scholarship for each contest along with a certificate of achievement. She was recognized at the April 14 Board of Trustees meeting. Her entries were forwarded to the Illinois Community College Trustee Association (ICCTA) for entry in the statewide competition.
“This is a huge help and weight off my shoulders,” Benjamin said in a statement released by the school. “In addition, the knowledge that my words were heard and resonated with the decision committee is humbling. And the thought that my win might inspire other students in the future makes me smile ear to ear!”
The Gandhi/King Peace scholarship began in 2014 by ICCTA. All ICCTA member colleges may enter one student essay in the statewide competition each year. If Benjamin’s entry is selected as the statewide winner, she will receive a $1,000 scholarship for Fall 2020.
In business-letter format, contestants were asked to outline a plan for a nonviolent response to the problems of hate and discrimination and draw upon the lives and writing of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Members of the College’s Diversity Committee reviewed and selected the winner.
The Paul Simon Student Essay contest is held annually by the Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA). All ICCTA member colleges may enter one student essay in the statewide competition each year. If Benjamin’s essay is selected as the statewide winner, she will receive another $500 scholarship.
Contestants were asked to write an essay on the topic How My Community College has Changed My Life. Benjamin’s essay discusses the struggles and challenges of a single mother looking to create a better life for her and her children. A committee of English faculty members selected the winner.
"The hard realization was that I am a single parent to three," a portion of Benjamin's story read. "I worked two jobs to make ends meet. I could not afford an education and had no time for classes. The old me would have immediately folded and given up. The new me refused to fail. I began to research ways to achieve my goal."
To read Benjamin’s winning Paul Simon and Gandhi/King entries in full, please visit www.kish.edu/iccta.