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Winners named in O'Hanlon Essay Contest


A pair of Marshall University graduate students took first- and second-place in the 2016 Dan O’Hanlon Essay Contest, results of which were announced Monday in a brief ceremony in the Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy in Old Main on the Huntington campus.

Gregory S. Ward won the contest, and Cindy Krepps was second. The question for the 2016 contest was “The Electoral College: Should We Keep It, Abolish It, or Reform It?”

Ward titled his essay Defending The Fence: The Electoral College’s Vital Role Within Madison’s Republican Model. Krepps titled hers Dissolving the Electoral College: America’s Cry for Change. This was the first time graduate students had won both prizes.

“Even more important, from my perspective, is that both winners hold regent’s bachelor’s degrees and are nontraditional students, which says that Marshall’s work to honor the life experience of nontraditional students has impressive results,” said Patricia Proctor, director of the Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy.

Ward is seeking his Master of Arts in Teaching and plans to teach high school history, hopefully in Kanawha County. Married and the father of six children, he started his collegiate career at Washington and Lee, but didn’t finish. He had a long career in retail and moved around a lot before coming back and getting his R.B.A. from Marshall.

Krepps earned her R.B.A. and is now seeking her Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.)

The essays reached opposite conclusions to the question posed in the contest.

Ward said he was amazed that he won.

“I was beyond surprised,” he said. “Though ever hopeful, I was nonetheless thrilled when I found out I’d won the essay contest. Having read all the previous years’ winning essays, I knew competition would be fierce. I allowed myself to be cautiously optimistic, but a part of me is still stunned that I won.

“I entered primarily because I love to write, especially argumentative essays. I did not take any graduate classes over the summer, yet I wanted to remain intellectually active. In addition, our oldest daughter began college this fall, and in some sense writing this essay was therapeutic for me as I readied myself for her leaving.”

Ward received $1,000 for first place and Krepps received $500 for second. Proctor said participation was at an all-time high for the contest, which debuted in 2009.

Cutline: Judge Dan O’Hanlon, left, poses for a photograph with Cindy Krepps, runner-up in the Dan O’Hanlon Essay contest, and Gregory S. Ward, the contest winner.

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