May 10, 2012
OCC Names 2011-12 Student Essay Winners

Oakland Community College announced the winners of OCC’s Fifth Annual Student Essay Competition on May 8.


Sponsored by the OCC Foundation and the college’s Student Outcomes Assessment Committee, the contest distributed $3,250 in prize money and gift certificates to the eight competition winners.  First prize was $1,000; second place took $750 and third place $500.  In addition, $200 gift certificates for the OCC bookstores were presented to each of the five honorable mention winners.


Chaired by Highland Lakes Campus English Department faculty member Bob Lamphear, the essay evaluation team was composed of faculty and staff members.  Essays ran from 1,000 to 1,250 words and each was reviewed by five evaluators.


“The competition challenged students to explore forces at work in today’s world that corrupt youth.  Many contestants drew on their own experiences to create essays that spoke to topics such as the social media and parenting,” said Lamphear.


First Place, $1,000 – Bethany Ray

A Ferndale resident, Bethany experienced her initial “aha” moment at OCC on her first day as student when an economics professor challenged the class to name one thing they would change about their lives.  Bethany’s immediate response? – her job.  After ten years in the healthcare industry, she realized she was not passionate about her work.  With support from her family she quit, then explored career options at OCC.  Her winning essay is titled “School Lunch Corruption.”  She will use her first place prize money to continue studies at OCC and eventually to transfer to Eastern Michigan University.


Second Place, $750 – Nechama Tawil

Southfield resident Nechama’s essay, “Cell-ulitis,” persuasively demonstrates how cell phone use has permeated society and interferes with quality time with others.  Nechama is on schedule to graduate this August with an associate degree in graphic design and a certificate in business entrepreneurship.  In September she plans to transfer to an art school to earn a BA in advertising design.


Third Place, $500 – Mitchell Winget

A Royal Oak resident, Mitchell has spent time since high school traveling the country, writing and playing music.  He has been at OCC for a year, states that education is important to him and he hopes to become a college professor.  Mitchell’s essay is titled “The Unexamined Life,” and he was encouraged by his creative writing instructor to enter the contest.


The Honorable Mention winners were:

·         Ashlyn Oswalt of Oxford

·         Dan Samborn of Novi

·         Ashley Turnbull of Clarkston

·         Malka Rothenberg of Oak Park

·         Gabriella Wittbrodt of Farmington Hills


      The winners received their prizes at the May 8 meeting of the OCC Foundation Board of Directors in the Doris Mosher Foundation House at the college’s administrative center in Bloomfield Hills.


      The contestants’ biographies and essays may be viewed at


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