June 16, 2016

BY TERI CAMPBELL
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE– Amy Butler, a Carbondale resident and student at John A. Logan College, took the top prize in the 2016 Gandhi/King Peace Essay Scholarship competition sponsored by the Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA).

In the wake of the recent violence in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City, participants in the contest were asked to write a letter to their college board of trustees outlining a plan to address discrimination, racism, and violence by drawing on the lives and writings of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Butler’s essay, “Choose Peace,” was chosen from among seven statewide finalists for best illustrating the contest’s topic.

“Part of the common ground that I found between Gandhi and Dr. King was that they both seemed to possess an inner peace,” Butler said. “I plan to go into counseling as my career and that was very interesting to me. In my essay I focused on finding an inner peace and serving others.”

Toyin Fox, director of diversity and inclusion at JALC, coordinates the essay contest at the college. She said all current full- and part-time community college students in Illinois were eligible to enter, but each community college could submit only one essay for the competition.

“We have a committee that evaluates the essays and Amy’s was recommended to go to Springfield for the state competition,” Fox said. “It was very well-written. She shared her personal goals and experiences in peacebuilding activities in the community and the importance of caring for people who are different. It was touching and meaningful, and I’m glad she won. With everything that’s happening lately, speaking the language of nonviolence is crucial.”

This was not the first award Butler has received for her writing. She won the Paul Simon Student Essay Contest in 2014, which is also sponsored by the ICCTA, making her the first student to win two scholarships from that organization.

Kathleen Carl, professor of English at Logan, taught Butler in her English composition class said she isn’t surprised by Butler’s success.    

“Amy was a great student,” Carl said. “Not only did she work hard and take the work seriously, but she was also helpful and encouraging to the other students. Her writing is so natural and so real. Last year she was chosen the English Department’s Writing Student of the Year.”

Butler credits Carl for helping improve her writing.

“Kathleen Carl is an excellent professor and taught me a lot about the technical aspects of writing,” Butler said. “She’s also my biggest advocate and a true mentor to me.”

Butler was recognized for her win at the ICCTA's awards banquet in Springfield earlier this month. She was presented with a plaque and a $500 scholarship. Her winning essay is posted on ICCTA's Web site at www.communitycolleges.org/peace2016winner.html. The scholarship was established in 2014 through an endowment by Oakton Community College trustee Jody Wadhwa and the Wadhwa Foundation.

 

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Dr. Steve O’Keefe at 618-985-2828 ext. 8569 or email at steveokeefe@jalc.edu.