2014 Winning Personal Essays

"How to Cry" by Stacey Cohen, Winner of the Gold Medal
How to Cry.doc
Microsoft Word Document 26.0 KB

This essayist considers how controlling our responses to tragedy can sometimes feel like gaining control over the evil itself.  Yet, we cannot deny the need for tears, the need to express a fully human response to suffering.

"Prehensile" by Alexa Derman, Winner of the Gold Medal
Microsoft Word Document 23.8 KB

Reflecting on the immense variety of ways that we rely on manual dexterity, and the intense and hidden suffering of those whose physical movements are limited by debilitating pain, the essayist juggles language with enviable skill.

"Oreo" by Alexa Gilbert, Winner of the Silver Medal
Microsoft Word Document 20.8 KB

Sometimes we only realize the unexpected and hidden value of our struggle with personal difficulties when an encounter with a fellow sufferer enables us to share the lesson we've learned, even when this sharing may potentially be rejected. The essayist feelingly describes such an encounter. 

"The Battle of Bare Legs" by Irena Chiang, Winner of the Bronze Medal
The Battle of Bare Legs.docx
Microsoft Word Document 15.0 KB

When the essayist's fashion sense gets the better of her common sense one bitterly cold day, she bumps into the hard outline of her mother's suffering as an impoverished child growing up in China.  This essay reflects how its author almost literally walks in her mother's worn out shoes.

"Clarity" by Amanda Glatt, Winner of the Bronze Medal
Microsoft Word Document 27.5 KB

Suffering sometimes causes us to see the world, our world, through new eyes as the beliefs that had brought us comfort in the past are shredded by unexplainable pain.  The essayist depicts one such loss through a last game of chess with an uncle sick with cancer.