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Two Mount Students Win First Place in Writing Contest

Katherine Stohlman, C'20

Two Mount students took first place in the Fall 2021 Delta Epsilon Sigma Fitzgerald Undergraduate Writing Competition.

rachel-balick-in-text.jpgRebekah Balick, C’22, tied for first place in the Scholarly Research category of the contest for her essay, “Mary, Queen of Scots: Martyr or Miscreant?” Claire Doll, C’24, took first place in both the Short Fiction and Poetry categories, for her short story “Swimming Lessons” and her poem “This Life,” respectively.

Delta Epsilon Sigma is a national scholastic honor society for colleges and universities affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Founded in Iowa in 1940 by Reverend E. A. Fitzgerald, the dean of studies at Loras College, membership has grown to 77 chapters in participating schools across the country. Every year Delta Epsilon Sigma invites member colleges and universities to submit a student piece for each of the five categories in the Fitzgerald Writing Competition.

The Mount’s chapter advisor is Associate Professor of History Charles Strauss, Ph.D. “This is the highest honor society at the Mount,” he noted. “This year, we made four nominations and three of these nominations resulted in first place awards… [Rebekah and Claire] continue a strong tradition of Mount success in this competition.” Chapter advisors guide students through the editing and submissions process, ultimately deciding which pieces to send. This year, Associate Professor of English Tom Bligh, Ph.D., and History Department Chair Gregory Murry, Ph.D., who is also director of academic programming, served with Strauss on the Mount’s nomination committee.

Balick’s research essay on Mary, Queen of Scots concludes that although the infamous royal’s execution does not quite meet the standards of martyrdom, her Catholic faith played a large role in her downfall and death. Balick’s own faith made winning a category in the DES contest even more meaningful, as she noted that it “is a unique honors society in that it is based in Catholicism, and since my faith is a major part of my life and motivation as a student, I am honored that a project I wrote that combines both theological and historical aspects of Mary's life is being published with this organization.”

claire.jpegDoll’s short story and poem were both written for her Introduction to Creative Writing class, taught by Bligh. She stated that she is inspired to write fiction by elements of her daily life, “so the subject of my poem as well ideas from my short story were both influenced by things I experience every day.” Doll's short fiction piece “Swimming Lessons,” is about a young girl and her mother battling loneliness while her father is away on deployment, while “This Life” is a memorial to the joy of finding a friend who is a kindred spirit. 

Traditionally, new student members of the Mount’s DES chapter are welcomed every April in an induction ceremony. Although the ceremony was canceled the past two years amid pandemic cautions, Strauss stated that the ceremony will happen this year. Three years of “new” members will be formally inducted, and Balick and Doll will be honored for their accomplishments.

Balick and Doll will also receive $500 for each category they took first place in, and their pieces will be published in the DES Journal this spring. 

Katherine Stohlman, C'20