Patrick Henry College
This year’s $2000 PHC Alumni Association Tuition Scholarship was awarded to sophomore Kendra Olson, whose essay, “Striving for Excellence,” depicts her struggle to recognize how God’s definition of excellence differs drastically from our own. Her essay (and past winning essays) can be found here.
The Alumni Association this year reviewed 17 essays, representing more than 5% of the PHC student body. The Alumni Association Board assessed and graded the essays on mechanics, logic, rhetorical effect, and development of topic.
The essay competition has been held each year since 2008, providing alumni the opportunity to help PHC students afford the cost of a Patrick Henry College education. According to Daniel Hebda, Chairman of the Finance Committee on the PHC Alumni Board, the essays give alumni a valuable glimpse into the worldview and thinking of current students.
“We received many well-written, moving, and insightful essays, which made for significant competition to win the contest,” said Hebda. “I am pleased to say that Kendra Olson’s essay won the highest score cumulatively in the four areas of mechanics, logic, rhetorical effect, and topic development. Her essay was masterfully written and clearly illuminates the academic, personal, and spiritual development resulting from her struggle to recognize that God’s definition of excellence is often very different from our own.”
Olson originally didn’t plan on participating in the competition, but at the last minute changed her mind at what she believes was God’s prompting. In spite of the outcome, she thought, crafting the essay would help her put to words the many ways God has worked in her life since arriving at PHC.
“The money is very helpful, but more than that, the questions themselves were a really good exercise on writing what I have learned and realizing why it is important,” she said. “Honestly, I learned things about myself and God through writing the essay because I hadn't really sat down and thought about those questions before.”
Upon learning that her essay had won, Kendra’s squeals of excitement echoed through her house.
“I felt like God was giving me a great big hug and confirming that I was where He wanted me to be,” she said.