Research essay contest set to be hosted Fall 2017

Jenny Gonzalez

President Dr. Fierro and Dean of Liberal Arts David Fabish are in the process of planning out the President’s Award for Scholarly Essay to be set for Fall 2017.

Fabish initially brought the idea to Dr. Fierro last year, and hopes to implement the contest after working out the details with faculty and staff.

The item was brought to the Faculty Senate’s agenda, Jan. 31. to ask for faculty to choose a representative in each division to become a part of a task force on campus. At the Tuesday Faculty Senate meeting Fabish said he sent faculty an e-mail.

“My real purpose for proposing this is to provide students with a structured set of workshops in the Success Center that will support them when they are writing research papers in classes like history or sociology. So much of the Success Center is devoted to math and English, which is great, but students in courses like those I just mentioned also need support in writing a paper,” Fabish said.

He initially proposed the contest to the acting Vice President of Academic Affairs and Fierro and mentions that due to his background as an English instructor and writing research papers, he was able to think of the idea.

Fabish proposed the idea to Acting Vice President of Instruction Rick Miranda needs identifier what’s his title -PL and Fierro and they agreed to pursue the contest.

Fierro said, “When we talked about it we determined it was a good idea, and not only to provide a prize but the outcome of this is getting students to practice their writing abilities and the best [essay] will obviously get the award, but the award is secondary to what we are trying to do, which is to stimulate writing for the students.”

Fabish also contacted Shawna Baskette, Dean of Academic Success Library and Student Success Division, and Librarian Kaitlin Scott and they also agreed to pursue the idea but needed time to organize the workshops the students will be attending.

He spoke to Faculty Senate to gather representatives from each division to form a Task Force and implement rules and regulations and the structure of the contest that coincides with the way the workshops will be held.

Fabish mentions that he has also been discussing the subject with The College Foundation, because it is considered a scholarship and “the college cannot use general funds” and Steve Richardson because he thinks, “it is a wonderful thing to honor a student for writing a great scholarly essay.

“I also think that is an honor for students to be recognized, but I also think a lot of our students are struggling and they have financial obligations so this would be a wonderful thing to help hardworking deserving students who are focused on developing research skills,” Fabish said.

He pans out the time line to consist of an introduction to the research paper, and then include workshops about:

Developing ideas pre-writing and brainstorming

Finding resources using Cerritos College Library databases and books

Drafting and proofreading including MLA and APA formats

Fabish adds, “Really the attention is to utilize the Success Center for students who aren’t necessarily in a developmental English or math class but are in transferable courses and want that support.”

His plan includes monetary prizes of first place to receive $500, second place to receive $250, while third place prize is not decided yet.

Fabish would also like for the winning students receive their awards in plaque form and be announced at a Board of Trustees meeting, the academic awards ceremony or both.

Dean of Academic Success Shawna Baskette said, “The President’s Award for Outstanding Scholarly Essay will be an opportunity for students across various disciplines to develop solid essay-writing skills.

“The successful authors will receive cash awards, and this achievement is an item that the winners can place on their college transfer applications or resumes. Good research and writing skills are highly sought after in today’s workforce, she said.

Fabish also mentioned announcing the winners on the digital information sign on the corner of Studebaker and Alondra.

“[I] think that students who worked hard academically also deserve recognition so we’d make this as big of a celebration as possible,” he said.

The conditions that need to be met are as follows:

The student’s instructor [course needs to be determined] will need to assign an essay that qualifies for the contest.

The student’s need to attend a certain number of workshops [TBD]

Fabish hopes instructors are involved with the contest by having the instructor nominate one or two students, “and to embrace [the contest] because the thing is that initiatives like this are only successful if the faculty become champions of the program so I want […] instructors to want to do this.”

He believes the Scholar’s Honors Program, or honor students, would benefit from this contest also.

“I just want to emphasize that the real purpose of this is to utilize the Success Center by students who are looking to transfer, or who are getting a degree, or […] a credential. Ultimately, although there is an award attached, it is really about creating a program that will help more students be successful when they write essays,” Fabish said.