Centenary honor society announces essay contest winners

Left to right: Melissa Sisemore, Renee Katz, Dario Garcia

SHREVEPORT, LA — The Department of History and Political Science at Centenary College, along with Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society, recently sponsored a student essay contest on “The Moral Use of Power.” The contest presented an opportunity for students in a variety of fields to engage in a broad concept of political science.

Junior Melissa Sisemore won first place for her essay, “The True Power of Peace.” First year students Renee Katz and Dario Garcia won second and third place, respectively. Sisemore, from Haughton, Louisiana, is majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. Katz, from Shreveport, and Garcia, from Dallas, Texas, are both political science majors.

“Our theme this year, ‘The Moral Use of Power,’ could be taken by a biology student and interpreted to apply to the moral use of medicine and the power of healing, or by a creative writing student to apply to the moral use of the rhetoric of race and the power to shape public opinion,” explains Dr. Amanda Donahoe, assistant professor of political science and one of the judges for the contest. “The goal is to reinforce the links between fields and the larger goals of interdisciplinary liberal arts learning, exploring core concepts in one academic field to help students grow stronger in their own field.”

Sisemore’s essay on “The True Power of Peace” examined the question of when and whether “hard” power should be used.

“The thrust of my essay is that hard, violent power should be avoided, but there is a moral imperative to use soft, diplomatic power to make the world a better place,” explains Sisemore. “I was inspired by people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, and Martin Niemöller.”

Second place winner Katz used her essay to explore the question of whether the United States has the moral responsibility to address unjust actions in its past, specifically in reference to the Native American community.

“I wanted to bring awareness to injustices of the past that still continue today,” says Katz. “I believe it is easy to look at the past and acknowledge that our actions were wrong, but it is rarely asked whether we have the moral responsibility as a nation to right these wrongs.”

Garcia’s essay focused on power dynamics in the workplace and the home, examining how societal roles, stereotypes, and history combine to negatively affect certain individuals.

The top three essay writers received a monetary award provided by Pi Sigma Alpha.


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