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English Department
Bradley Hall 380
(309) 677-2490 

James Ballowe Personal Essay Contest (1988-2011)

Prizes were awarded to undergraduate or graduate students whose personal essays were judged by a Department of English committee to satisfy the criteria of originality and quality of style and content. Winning essays ranged 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 (1988-2011) was established 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