Texas A&M University-Texarkana recently announced the winners of top writing awards for research papers and creative writing in the annual Program for Learning and Community Engagement paper contest.

The students wrote papers on the theme of "Race and Ethnicity," with six prizes awarded in the research category and the other two given for creative writing.

Dr. Brian Billings, event organizer, thanked A&M-Texarkana students for not only participating in the year's PLACE program by attending the lectures, discussions, films and performances, but also for being inspired enough to write and submit papers in the contest.

“The caliber of work entered in this year’s competition is a testament to the significant interest in and impact of the PLACE program and this year’s theme of ‘Race and Ethnicity’,” Dr. Billings said. “It’s also a reflection of the strength of the faculty at A&M-Texarkana and their dedication to student success.”

In the undergraduate scholarly paper category, Kashyra I. Thompson of Texarkana, Texas, won first place for her paper, "Does Race Affect the Use of Deadly Force?" Brenda Riley, assistant professor of criminal justice served as her faculty sponsor for the project.

Second place in the undergraduate scholarly paper category went to Thomas Strawn of Texarkana, Texas, for his research paper titled "The Good Ol' Boys: Internal Racism in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.” Dr. Tom Jordan, associate professor of criminal justice, served as Strawn’s faculty sponsor.

Third place went to Maria Byrd of Texarkana, Arkansas, for "Using Curanderos in Hispanic Communities.” Dr. Kimberly Murray, assistant professor of sociology, was her faculty sponsor.

In the graduate scholarly paper category, Esther Pippins of Texarkana, Texas, won first place with her research on "The Communicative Styling of an Angry Black Woman.” Dr. Kevin Ells, associate professor of mass communication, served as her faculty sponsor.

Shelby L. Elliott of Texarkana, Texas, won second place for "The Public School Dilemma: Analyzing Student Prejudice Influence by Geographic Isolation in the Texarkana Area.” Dr. David Allard, professor of biology, served as her faculty sponsor.

Third place went to Shea Phillips of Texarkana, Texas, with a paper titled "From White Privilege to Restorative Justice: Examining Systemic Racism in Public Schools.” Sara Lawrence, assistant professor of educational psychology, served as faculty sponsor.

In the creative writing category, Hollis Thompson of Texarkana, Texas, won first place for his work titled “The Brier Patch.” Casey Purifoy of Fouke, Arkansas, won second place for “Skin Geography.” Dr. Brian Billings, associate professor of English, served as faculty sponsor for both projects.

First place winners received a cash prize of $350. Second place recipients received $250 and third place recipients took home $100.

Dr. Del Doughty, dean of the College of Education and Liberal Arts, and Dr. Thomas Cutrer, cultural historian and spouse of President Emily Cutrer, served as judges for the competition.

In addition to Dr. Billings, event organizers included Liz Patterson, assistant vice president for student success, and Sydney Custer, administrative associate in the Student Success Center.

PLACE will host a poetry workshop and reading by award-winning poet Dr. Jericho Brown on Thursday, April 27. The workshop will get underway at 4PM followed by the reading at 6PM. Location is the Tri-State Iron & Metal Atrium on the third floor of the University Center. The free event is open to the public.

PLACE will round out the semester with an A&M-Texarkana drama program presentation of “Bernie Wolf,” a jazz-age musical version of “Beowulf” Thursday through Saturday, April 27-29, at 7:30PM in Eagle Hall of the University Center. General admission is $8 and $5 for students.

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