Why College is Awesome Essay Contest

Awesome Essays Worth $529 for College

Twenty-six local students have written a new chapter into the 34th annual Awesome 3000. The Salem-Keizer Education Foundation has announced the winners of the third annual Why College is Awesome essay contest. Sponsored by the Oregon College Savings Plan, the essay winners each receive a $529 Oregon College Savings Plan account.

Read and scored by a committee of literacy and writing professionals, 362 students submitted entries including 119 elementary students from 14 schools, 98 middle school students from 11 schools and 145 students from 6 high schools. Students were asked to paint a mental picture with drawings and/or words, keep the reader interested, and give a creative, and succinct expression of why going to college is an awesome experience.

The essays discussed a wide variety of topics, including everything from the college experience, to working for their dream careers, to being the first person in their family to obtain a college education.

Cathy McInnis, College and Career Specialist for the Salem-Keizer School District, served as a scorer on the committee. After reading dozens of essays, she spoke of the importance of having this sort of contest for younger students.

“It’s so important to plant that seed early,” she said. “They’re sharing their vision of Why College is Awesome.”

As a scorer, McInnis said she’s looking for essays that set students apart.

“Tell me your story. I look for that story that has some meaning to it.”

Why College is Awesome Essay Contest Winners for 2016


Madison Morrow – Sumpter Elementary School

Micah Kolb – Forest Ridge Elementary School

1st Grade

Harrison Buckingham – McKinley Elementary School

Lillian Neria – Lee Elementary School

2nd Grade

Isabella Morrow – Sumpter Elementary School

Adilene Garcia-Hernandez – Washington Elementary School

3rd Grade

Ava Grice – Chapman Hill Elementary

Kiara Peterson – Chavez Elementary

4th Grade

Isaac Santiago Martinez – Washington Elementary

Lizeth Chavez Hernandez – Washington Elementary

5th Grade

Kaydence Nguyen – Hammond Elementary

Kaylan Ma – Lee Elementary

6th Grade

Jane Ramos Arredondo – Waldo Middle School

Leah Bjornsrud – Crossler Middle School

7th Grade

Alika Wolf – Crossler Middle School

Takoda Wheeler – Straub Middle School

8th Grade

Miriam Garcia – Stephens Middle School

Karlee Lathrop – Stephens Middle School

9th Grade

Eden McCall – Sprague High School

Elizabeth Seare – West Salem High School

10th Grade

Roopbir Singh – Sprague High School

Hannah Sonnen – West Salem High School

11th Grade

Parker Cepeda – South Salem High School

Ruth Huggins – South Salem High School

12th Grade

Olivia Hyman – West Salem High School

Fallon Dunham – McNary High School