Russian Program Students Earn Praise for Writing

Lupita Barrientos '17, Lily Tyson '17, and Cara Ehlenfeldt '16
Lupita Barrientos '17, Lily Tyson '17, and Cara Ehlenfeldt '16 all earned awards at the 15th Annual ACTR National Post-Secondary Russian Essay Contest.

Eight Swarthmore freshmen and sophomores in the Russian Program recently earned awards and distinction for excellent writing at a regional paper conference and national essay contest held this semester.

In late March, four students from Assistant Professor of Russian Brian Johnson's Russian novel course -  Michaela Krauser '17, Molly Petchenik '16, Philip Queen '16, and Annie Tvetenstrand '16 - participated in the annual Northeast Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Conference in Philadelphia. The Swarthmore students, presented "Structural Thematic Analysis of the 19th Century Russian Novel," one of just two undergraduate panels at the regional conference this year.  

At the national level, five Swarthmore students placed at the fifteenth annual ACTR National Post-Secondary Russian Essay Contest. Among second-year Russian students, Elizabeth Tolley '17 and Molly Petchenik '16 both received honorable mention. In first-year Russian, Cara Ehlenfeldt '16 earned first place, Lupita Barrientos '17 placed third, and Lily Tyson '17 earned an honorable mention.

The annual ACTR essay contest is hosted by the American Council of Teachers of Russian, a professional membership organization of American teachers of Russian language and literature. Over 1,004 essays from 58 universities, colleges, and institutions across the United States were submitted this year on the topic "An Important Decision in My Life."  Each essay is written under timed and controlled circumstances, evaluated based on content, length, lexicon, syntax, structure, and creativity, and independently judged and ranked by a panel of three judges in Russia.

"Given the number of essays submitted, earning an honorable mention is an honor in and of itself," Johnson says, "and the Russian Section is very proud of Swarthmore's strong showing this year."