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Big Mind Learning Scholarship Contest

2011 Contest Winners

Big Mind Learning is delighted to announce the winners and finalists of our 2011 Scholarship Essay Contest. The judges were very impressed by the quality of the entries, and they found many essays which were not awarded prizes extremely compelling.

Thank you very much for your participation. We look forward to your continued support as we expand the scope to include a memoir festival during the spring of 2012.

Congratulations to the winners and finalists!

Winning essays from previous years can be accessed by clicking on one of the links to the left.


  1. First Place: Casey Robinson-Bullock of Schoharie Central School
  2. Second Place: Ariel Vonk of Colonie Central High School
  3. Third Place: Zackary Reed of South Glens Fall High School
    Shanelle Lounsberry of Schoharie Central School
    Jenna Bryfonski of Saratoga Springs High School
    David Goldstein of Galway Central School

Finalists (in alphabetical order)

  1. Anthony Mark Benis of Saratoga Springs High School
  2. Cooper Bowersox of Schoharie Central School
  3. MeiXing Dong of Cobleskill-Richmondville High School
  4. Jessica Famiano of Saratoga Springs High School
  5. Brianna Freestone of Saratoga Springs High School
  6. Jesse Herchenroder of Schoharie Central School
  7. Meredith Juers of Schalmont High School
  8. Dylan LaBadia of Schoharie High School
  9. Halle Prentice of Tech Valley High School
  10. Kaela Salzman of Schoharie Central School.

Honorable Mention

The judges wish to recognize and honor two wonderful essays that could not be awarded prizes because of excessive length. The panel notes the passion, clarity, and conviction of the two following writers:

  1. Michelle Kats of Shenendehowa High School
  2. Ronnie Rera of Schoharie Central School

The judges used the following rubric of criteria to make their decisions:

  1. Clarity
  2. Honesty
  3. A narrowly defined and compelling focus
  4. Creativity, originality, and interesting use of language
  5. Guidance by one of the quotes