Highland Student Wins National Essay Contest

published April 21, 2015Highland Student Wins National Essay Contest

Highland Student Wins National Essay Contest

A widely used college textbook will have a truly personal connection for Highland Community College; an essay by an HCC student will be included in the upcoming new edition. With the assistance of his Creative Writing instructor, Dr. Harold W. Arnett, Brandon Beavers, a sophomore member of the Scottie baseball team from Springfield, MO, submitted one of only eight new entries that will be included in On Course: Strategies for Creating Success in College and in Life. 

According to the publisher, more than 100,000 students at over 500 colleges and universities take a class that uses Dr. Skip Downing’s On Course text each year.  More than 100 entries were submitted to the On Course Essay Contest that Dr. Downing conducts to provide students with an opportunity to share how they used On Course strategies to overcome obstacles to their success in college. One of the big obstacles Beavers faced was dealing with a family tragedy from only a couple of years earlier. Arnett suggested that Brandon incorporate that into his essay and submit it for the Essay Contest.  “I met Skip Downing when I participated in one of his workshops several years ago,” noted Arnett.  “We've stayed in touch since then. Knowing Skip, I was pretty sure that Brandon's paper had the potential to compete well."

Apparently, Downing agreed with Arnett's appraisal of the essay, noting, "What stood out for me about Brandon's essay was his transformation from wandering aimlessly through life [in the aftermath of the family tragedy] to gaining a motivating plan and enthusiasm for creating a great future.  As he wrote,'"I’ve gone from just going through the motions to having goals that I want to achieve. I’m feeling happier. I’m where I want to be in life.' " 

After reviewing over a hundred entries, Downing contacted Beavers with some suggestions on further improvement. "He talked to me for an hour," the surprised student reported. "I couldn't believe the author actually contacted me. He made some really good suggestions and I used every one of them. The hardest part of writing the essay was time management, finding time to do it." Then he added, "That and trying to make it perfect."

The payoff: publication in the next edition of the book and a one hundred dollar cash prize. "I was excited, kind of surprised. I didn't really expect to win but I was thankful!" Arnett says he may have been even more excited than Brandon. "I was practically dancing in my office when I found out," he admits with a grin. "I was so excited and proud of Brandon."   Beavers noted that his parents, Larry and Missy Beavers, who currently live in Overland Park, were also happy about the news. "My mom and dad were very proud; in fact, my mom was in tears, she was so happy and proud.”  Based on the relationship Arnett developed with Beavers, he has nominated Beavers for inclusion in Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities. 

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