Senior Leesa McDill and first-year student Hannah Malik were honored for their exceptional writing on March 2.
The students were awarded the Weeks Student Prose Prize and the Academy of American Poets student prize, respectively. The two writers also won $100 cash prize and a publication spot in the upcoming issue of Ellipsis, Westminster’s student-run literary magazine.
McDill, senior English and creative writing major, is currently working on a poetry thesis and is the poetry editor for Ellipsis. However, she won the award for a prose piece—a flash fiction story about a dancer who receives flowers from a secret admirer and ends up wanting to enter a relationship with the mysterious, wealthy and non-committal man.
“She’s very disillusioned with what she does,” McDill said.
She said her story was influenced by her love for dance, although she is not a dancer herself, and by her attraction to the romanticism of two people who want to be together but can’t.
“I’ve always been envious of people who have been in control of their bodies in this fluid way,” McDill said.
She wrote the piece as an assignment for a fiction-writing workshop she took last fall semester, which took her roughly two weeks to finish.
Malik, first-year zoology and veterinary technology major, also has a love for art and writing.
“It’s funny, because you always have that stereotype of a parent wanting you to be a doctor and the kid wants to be an artist, and it’s exactly the opposite for me,” Malik said.
Malik said she was attracted to a small, liberal arts school like Westminster, but after deciding to focus her studies on zoology and animal science, she decided to transfer and continue her education at a different school that will allow her to pursue those interests.
However, her she said she hopes to continue writing in the future, in addition to becoming a veterinarian or attending graduate school for zoology.
“I’ve always had a gift with animals,” Malik said. “I just really like caring for things and helping them grow. It’s what I was naturally drawn to. I don’t think that [my writing] is ever going to stop, by any means. It’s never going to slow down, but I don’t know how that will go in terms of a career.”
Her poem “Bathtub” is about a previous summer where she experienced a bad breakup and other traumatic experiences. She said the poem helped her examine personal hardships and feelings of loss.
“It’s about figuring out what was lost, not just in time spent in that relationship, but what was lost of the self,” Malik said.
Students can find Malik and McDill’s work in the newest Ellipsis, which publishes in April. Students who wish to submit work to Ellipsis can begin polishing their pieces for next fall. Ellipsis takes student submissions from August to November.