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2018 Richard T. Schellhase Essay Contest Winners

Three Ursinus students earned recognition for essays submitted to the college’s fifth annual Richard T. Schellhase ’45 Ethics Essay Contest.

The students received cash prizes at a ceremony that featured a talk on judgment in difficult situations by Michael Stiles, whose varied career included work as an executive with the Philadelphia Phillies, as a U.S. Attorney, and as a Philadelphia Common Pleas judge.

First prize in the contest went to Christopher Tan ’18, an applied economics and international relations major. Tan’s winning essay is titled “Thinking Like a Fox: Individual Choice and the Unique Role of Liberal Arts Colleges in Empowering America’s Future Leaders.” The first-prize winner receives a $2,000 award. Tan became the first two-time winner of the contest, having won the first prize in last year’s contest, too.

Second place ($1,000) went Kailyn Cohen ’20, a chemistry major, for her essay “Environmental Sustainability for Business Success.” Sarah Becker ’20, an environmental studies major, won third prize ($500) for her essay “Corporations and Environmental Responsibility: Considering the Moral and Financial Implications of Oil Spills, Fracking, and Controversial Pipelines.” Becker won second prize in last year’s contest.

Honorable mentions went to Elizabeth Iobst ’19 and Jakob Twill ’20. The contest was judged by alumni Robert Brancatelli ’78, Elizabeth Kowalewski ’06, Katherine Blair ’10, and A.J. Davis ’06.

In remarks given after prizes were announced, Stiles discussed making judgments related to a variety of well-publicized incidents, ranging from the trial of MOVE leader Ramona Africa in 1985 to the case of a police officer who Tasered a Philadelphia Phillies fan who ran on the field during a game in 2010.

The cash prizes, as well as funding for a dinner to honor contest finalists, were provided by Will Abele ’61, an Urisnus trustee who established the contest in 2014 to honor Schellhase, his professor and wrestling coach at Ursinus. 

This year’s contests gave students a choice of essay topics – one on the issue of student debt, the other on corporation’s responsibility toward the environment. For each topic, a prompt presented students with an ethical dilemma requiring a recommended course of action and an examination of the broader issues. Students had an opportunity to enroll in a one-credit class in which they could examine and discuss the issues raised by the prompt while getting advice on writing about ethics.

Prize-winning authors will discuss their essays at the college’s Celebration of Student Achievement this Thursday at noon in Musser Auditorium in Pfahler Auditorium. Students and the general public are welcome. Refreshments will be served.