James Ballowe Personal Essay Contest

To provide fresh opportunities for our students, funding for the Ballowe Essay Contest was transferred to the Ballowe Scholarship in Creative Writing in 2014. This scholarship recognizes outstanding student writers within Bradley's Creative Writing Program.

Prizes were awarded to undergraduate or graduate students whose personal essays were judged by a committee of the Department of English to satisfy the criteria of originality and quality of style and content. The personal essay was a type of creative non-fiction, ranging from autobiography to first-person commentary on contemporary and historical events. Eligibility was limited to students who were pursuing a degree at Bradley University.

The Ballowe Personal Essay Prize was established in 1998 by Professor Ballowe's family and his former students.

Please visit James Ballowe's profile.

The English Department reserves the right to post the winning entries on its website.

2011-12 Winners

First Place: $500
"This Is My Life" by Elizabeth Cachey

Second Place: $250
"Slick Rhymes, Black Thighs, and Bus Rides" by Grant Schubert

Third Place: $100
"The Buick: The Car That Would Not Die" by Linda Lowery

Honorable Mentions: "On Whipped Cream and the Brim of His Hat" by Brooke Rumbold, "Make Money" by Lyra Johnson, "Morphine" by Chris Poore, "A Love Story" by Philip Choong

Previous Winners


  • First Prize: $500 "Balikbayan" by Curtis Teichert
  • Second Place: $250 "Play-Actor" by Ethan Hedman
  • Third Place: $100 "Canned Supper" by Kaylyn Kuzniar
  • Honorable Mentions: Emily Bartosh, Elizabeth Baney, Linda Lowery and Jillian Walters


  • First Prize: $500 "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Cluj " by Adriana Gradea, Graduate Student, English
  • Honorable Mentions: "Homemade Crisp" by Sienna Beard, Graduate Student, English; "How to Doom Yourself to Poverty, and Frighten Your Loved Ones Along the Way" by John King, Sophomore, English and Philosophy; "Remembering Robert Peck" by Jessmyn Luong, Graduate Student, English


  • First Prize: $500 "John and Challys" by Chelsea Pfiester, Senior, English
  • Second Prize: $250 "Just a Minnett" by Cherity Cook, Graduate Student, English
  • Third Prize: $100 "Beautiful Dissonance" by Jessamyn Luong, Graduate Student, English
  • Honorable Mention: "Grandparents" by Adriana Gradea; "Oklahoma Summers" by James Kostas; "With Great Power..." by John King


  • First Prize: $500 "About Things We Learn From Books" by Carolyn Dorant, Senior, English
  • Second Prize: $250 "Wonder What the Poor Folks are Doin' Tonight" by Michelle Cusack, Graduate Student, English
  • Third Prize: $100 "Replacing Old Oak Trees" by Alexander Russell, Senior, History and Education


  • First Prize: $500 "Fish Sauce and Onion Grease" by Bailey Shaw
  • Second Prize: $250 "Summer Camp" by Lisa Stout
  • Third Prize: $50 "Loop Your Letters or Die" by Matthew Shramm
  • Third Prize: $50 "The Perfect Still" by Ben Sparks


  • First Prize: $500 "Myself Through Food" by Abigail Feucht
  • Second Prize: $250 "Woes of a Flat-Chested English Major" by Stephanie Mader


  • First Prize: $500 "Angels” by David VonBehren
  • Second Prize: $250 "Snoring Comma Rabbits" by James O'Connor
  • Honorable Mention: "My Son-the 10th Mountain Commando" by Cathy Buckingham; "Simply" by Lyndsey Ronfeldt; "Fish Out of Water" by Matthew Anderson


  • First Prize: $500 "Baby Blues" by Laurie McBride, Graduate Student, English
  • Second Prize: $250 "Transplant Shock and the Letter 'J'" by Sara Barfield, Graduate Student, English
  • Honorable Mention: "Conversations with the Dead" by Kurt Ashton Wagner, Psychology; "Finding My Stories" by Lyndsey Ronfeldt, English; "We Could Have Traded Pants" by Anna Crilly, English; "Nighttime Realities" by Brian McMurray, Multimedia


  • First Prize: $500 "Indelible Marks--A Legacy in Letters" by William D. Mayo
  • Honorable Mention: "How to Become a Pray-er with Apologies to Lori Moore." by Barbara Love; "My New York" by Maria King; "Life Lessons" by Kara Chavez; "Dear Mom, Thank You For My Underprivileged Childhood" by Matthew Crain; "Live from Peoria" by Laurie McBride


  • First Prize: $500 “Trading Spaces" by Sarah Wright
  • Second Prize: $250 “All-American Funny Man” by Maria King


  • First Prize: $500 "Passing" by Kate Grimaldi
  • Second Prize: $250 "A Touch of Sentimentality" by Vanessa Hall


  • First Prize: $500 "A Tender Squalor" by Vanessa Hall
  • Second Prize: $250 "My Next Life: Personal Reflections Dealing with Reincarnation, Strippers, and Cupcakes" by Matt Sheppo
  • Honorable Mention: "Communions" by Lee Mather; "Parental Guidance Required" by Jennifer Orr; "Waltzing with Walden" by Sarah Wright


  • First Prize: $500 "Restoration" by Lisa Beliveau
  • Second Prize: $250 "A Technophobic Confession" by Jeff DeLaRosa
  • Third Prize: $100 "Like So Many Feathers in an Eagle's Wing" by Lee Mather