Cunningham Writing Contest winners announced

February 28, 2017

Trine University has announced the winners of its eighth annual Walter Cunningham Writing Contest.

Named after Walter Cunningham, a Tri-State University alumnus, the campus-wide competition honors the best in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and academic writing. Early in his career, while working for the U.S Department of Labor, Cunningham and his team were asked to write reports to be used as evidence in federal court cases. He found this experience so challenging that he was inspired to embark on a successful campaign to teach himself to write more effectively.

Cunningham and his wife Don Nell sponsor the Cunningham contest each year.

“It has been my lack of English and writing skills throughout my life that encourages me at this time in life to attempt to help others understand, in some small way, the importance of obtaining these skills early,” he said.

Winners for this year’s contest are:

Fiction Division:

First:  “Lone Wolf” by Mycah Houser, a sophomore English and communication major from Valparaiso, Indiana. In biographical information submitted with her work, Houser says the only thing that excites her more than reading and writing is sipping a cup of hot chocolate during a quiet winter morning. When she isn't writing, she can often be found painting playing the guitar, or goofing around with her friends.

Second: “Fly Again” by August Buehrer, a senior music major from Angola, Indiana. Buehrer says she loves all forms of art and creativity, but has a special fascination with writing. She credits her creativity to an imaginative childhood with five siblings.

Academic Division:

First:  “Fatty Acid Oxidation Disorders: Onset, Prognoses, and Impact” by Jordan Tinkle, a senior chemical engineering major from Shelbyville, Indiana. Tinkle says her family consists of her mother, Lori, her father, David, her sister, Madison, and her newly adopted brother, Caleb. She is currently applying to IU medical school in the hopes of attending there in Fall 2017. She avidly drinks coffee and tea, loves to read and draw to relax, and considers long walks along city streets and forest trails to be one of the best uses of time.

Second:  “The Impact of Plastic Pollution” by Mycah Houser.

Third:  “Detection and Prevention of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis Infection in Dairy Cattle:  A Review” by Nicole Walters, a senior chemical engineering major from Sunbury, Ohio. Walters is involved with the Christian Campus House at Trine and plays the trumpet in Trine's marching band and wind ensemble.

Poetry Division:

First: “I Rode a Dragon Today” by Jordan Blank, a junior English education major from Montpelier, Ohio. An avid reader and creative writer, Blank works during the school year as a writing consultant and tutor in Trine's Writing Center, a job she enjoys immensely. Her favorite activity is travelling abroad, which provides her the opportunity for new experiences and adventures. Her goal is to teach English internationally.

Second: “Distant Memory” by Stevie Rosales, a junior math education major from Adrian, Michigan, who enjoys writing, reading and drawing in her spare time.

Third: “House Upon the Hill” by Elijah Thiess, a freshman communication major from Reading, Michigan, who likes to read books and be outdoors in his spare time.

Honorable mention: “Christmas is Near” by Sydney Ilko, a freshman elementary education major from Greenwood, Indiana. An only child, Ilko enjoys drawing and playing with her dogs in her free time.

Creative Nonfiction Division:

First: “Poison” by Alexis DeLancey-Christiansen, a senior professional writing and English studies and communication major from Angola, Indiana. DeLancey-Christiansen says she spends a lot of her time writing and the rest of her time playing video games.

Second: “Handsome Goodbye” by Stevie Rosales.

Third: “The Salt and The Penny” by Mycah Houser.

Honorable mention: “Zucchini Heaven” by Maria Till, a freshman psychology major from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Till says she is a hard-working student who juggles a part-time job and volunteer work around the community. She enjoys working with children and bringing a smile to the people around her.

Winners receive an award certificate and cash prizes — $100 for first place, $50 for second and $25 for third — and have their names inscribed on a plaque in Trine’s Taylor Hall.

All winners also will have their work published in Trine’s online literary magazine ( and be recognized at an award ceremony in April.

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