Why College is Awesome Essay Contest

Awesome Essays Worth $529 for College

Twenty-four local students have written a new chapter into the 35th 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 2017


Luke Neria – Lee Elementary

Janet Chen – Candalaria Elementary

Grade 1

Moriah Donahue – Pringle Elementary

Chloe Nitti – Sumpter Elementary

Grade 2

Bella Nitti – Sumpter Elementary

Harrison Buckingham – McKinley Elementary

Grade 3

Jamie Chen – Candalaria Elementary

Sawyer Nelson – McKinley Elementary

Grade 4

Aiden Dudley – Washington Elementary

Serenity Gay – Cummings Elementary

Grade 5

Sadie Paterson – Schirle Elementary

Eliora Yamoah – Schirle Elementary

Grade 6

Kaylan Ma – Judson Middle School

Grade 7

Jordan Cook – Straub Middle School

Grade 8

Isabella Wunderlich – Leslie Middle School

Alika Wolf – Crossler Middle School

Grade 9

Victoria Canchola – Early College High School

Kylie McNeely – McNary High School

Grade 10

Hailey Tipton – West Salem High School

Angel Olmos – McNary High School

Grade 11

Angelica Mejia – Sprague High School

Brendon Ma – South Salem High School

Grade 12

Rylie Tiffin – South Salem High School

Sadie Hayes – South Salem High School