Student Essay winner - Dana Brown, Jazzy Celindro, Matt Schulte

A new online journal project highlighting best essays by Roosevelt University undergraduates for 2017 features the work of two sociology students and a music major.

Jazzy Celindro, a junior sociology major from Hoffman Estates, Illinois, writes about coming to understand the importance of personal activism during a tour of the Illinois Holocaust Museum for a women’s and gender studies class in the essay “Jewish Familial Culture and Resistance: Being and ‘Upstander.’” 

Dana Brown, a classical voice and music education major from Fort Collins, Colorado, introduces readers to the life and work of her favorite composer in the essay “Wilhelm Stenhammar: The Voice of Sweden,” which she wrote for a music history class.

Matt Schulte, a graduating sociology student and native of New Lenox, Illinois, explores the history and culture of a Chicago neighborhood where he recently moved, in the essay “Latino Communities in Chicago – Logan Square,” which he wrote for a course called Latino Urban Experience. 

“We are proud to be able to present the very best in student writing for the 2016-17 academic year,” said Dan Cryer, assistant professor of English composition and one of the editors of Roosevelt’s 2017 Best Student Essays.

Ten papers written by undergraduates in courses from across the University initially went for review to a committee that included Cryer and English composition lecturers Vincent Francone and Miguel Jimenez.

The three finalists - Celindro, Brown and Schulte – then each worked individually with these professors to revise and polish their pieces for online publication.

Celindro’s assignment in Roosevelt Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies Marjorie Jolles' “What is a Family?’ class was to write about her experience touring the Illinois Holocaust Museum, connecting that experience to class readings.

Brown was asked by Roosevelt Assistant Professor of Music History Thomas Kernan to do a research project on a 20th Century composer. She chose to write about Stenhammar, whose music she first heard in high school.

Schulte’s assignment by Roosevelt Associate Professor of Sociology Stephanie Farmer was to do research and write about a Chicago neighborhood. He chose to delve into his own community of Logan Square, interviewing several residents about their attitudes and experiences regarding the neighborhood’s gentrification and race relations.

“While we are showcasing today the best of Roosevelt’s undergraduate student writing for 2017, our ultimate goal is to encourage and engage students in the future in producing high-quality academic writing,” said Cryer.

Through her writing, Celindro came to realize the importance of being a vocal activist, just as those who stood up and spoke out against the atrocities of Adolf Hitler in World War II.

"Social activism is important, particularly in today’s political climate and it’s one of the reasons I came to Roosevelt,” said Celindro, who has been trying to speak up more in class and focus intently on her writing about social justice issues.

“Winning this essay [competition] has given me confidence and it’s making me think about writing as a possible career when I graduate,” she said.

Brown enjoyed listening to Stenhammer’s music, and writing about his life and motivations so much that she has expanded her initial essay. She conducted several of the composer’s pieces for her senior recital. She also plans to visit his hometown in Sweden over the summer.

“All of this is for my own enjoyment,” she said. “I’ve been interested in this composer for such a long time, and to be able to share what I know about him has been exciting.”

During his interviews with several Logan Square residents, Schulte said he was surprised to learn that not everyone in the neighborhood had negative attitudes about gentrification and, at the time, incoming President Donald Trump.

“I’ve always had an affinity for writing. I find it’s the best way for me to get my points and message across,” said Schulte. “Also, it was a nice surprise to be recognized for something that I had to write anyway.”

For information on being involved as a judge, submitting nominations and/or having an essay considered for Roosevelt’s 2018 Best Student Essays contest and online journal project that will take place next academic year, contact Cryer at or 312-341-3725.

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