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Biochemistry students win MSU essay contest
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Two Mississippi State University biochemistry and molecular biology students won top honors in the Maroon Edition’s “Three Cups of Tea” essay contest, which was open to all MSU freshmen.
Liza Hudspeth of Walnut and Ryan Stockman of Hurley took first and second place, respectively.
Maroon Edition is MSU’s campus-wide reading initiative, which seeks to foster discussion by encouraging freshmen to read the same book in a limited timeframe. This year’s book was Greg Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Tea.”
Mortenson established more than 145 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. As part of Maroon Edition, on Sept. 23 Mortenson spoke to a packed audience at MSU’s Humphrey Coliseum about his mission to promote community-based education in the region.
Working with “Three Cups of Tea” gave Stockman a broader worldview.
“His account of people living in this war-torn country, having ordinary lives -- it’s not the way the media presents it,” he said.
In his essay Stockman called Mortenson “a true humanitarian, because he thinks about a global society.”
Hudspeth was impressed with Mortenson’s humility and accomplishments.
“His passion, the most positive trait of his character, was the element that drove him to survive and keep moving toward his goal,” she wrote in her winning essay.
Hudspeth also attended Mortenson’s press conference.
“He went around the room and shook everyone’s hand,” she said. “He’s famous and we’re not, but he still wanted to make that personal connection.”
The judging committee was headed by Nancy Hargrove, retired English professor and Giles Distinguished Professor. She looked for essays that referenced both the book and Mortenson’s talk.
Hudspeth and Stockman plan to be doctors, but their connections to Mortenson’s story are unique.
“Greg Mortenson and I both have a passion for helping children,” Hudspeth said.
Hudspeth wants to be a pediatric oncologist, work at St. Jude and travel with international medical missions.
Stockman is interested in the geography of Mortenson’s work.
“One of my main goals is to bring modern medicine and skill to an area where there is little,” he said.
The students won Barnes and Noble gift cards and were honored at a winner’s reception Nov. 9, where they read their essays for their peers.
Writer: Cheree Franco
Contact: Dr. Linda Morse, (662) 325-7106