SJR State student wins national student essay contest
St. Johns River State College student Rebekah Wilson was recently announced as a winner of the 2022 Scott Wright Student Essay Contest. Contestants were asked to describe how a member of their college encouraged him or her to complete a course, finish a semester, or graduate.
Wilson put her pen to work, writing one of the three winning essays, “Calm and Constant.” She credits Patrick Arnwine, SJR State’s assistant director of advising on the Orange Park Campus, for the significant role he played in her slow-but-steady journey at the College, helping to keep her moving toward her Associate in Arts degree and four business certificates.
In her essay, Wilson wrote, “As the daughter of foreign parents, when I graduated high school, none of us were properly equipped with the tools to navigate the American higher education system. After a brief attempt at attending a university, where the staff and faculty seemed distant and uncaring, I returned home disappointed and spooked at the idea of ever returning…
“Many years and many moves later, I found myself living around the corner from St. Johns River State College,” Wilson continued. “Still, it took some time for me to work up the nerve to try again. Eventually I did, and the enrollment process led me to the counselor’s office where I met Dr. Patrick Arnwine, and I’m very excited for the opportunity to shine a light on this very special educator.”
Wilson’s essay includes her experience with panic attacks that she developed while grieving the death of her mother. Noting her counselor’s compassionate nature she said, “Dr. Arnwine would let me stand in his office behind the door and just cry or catch my breath, just long enough so that I could carry on.”
View the essay
According to Arnwine, it did not take long to notice Wilson’s courage and potential as a student and a student worker in the advising office. “She immediately stood out as a key person of the team. It was and is a joy to watch her accomplish her goals and to be a part of her journey,” Arnwine said. “She is a good spirit… I cannot wait to see what she does next.”
Wilson will graduate this summer with her A.A. degree. She plans to enroll in SJR State’s bachelor’s degree in organizational management this fall.
The annual Scott Wright Student Essay Contest, sponsored by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), honors the memory of Scott Wright, past editor of “Community College Week” and winner of the 1998 Award for Excellence in Higher Education Journalism. Essay winners receive $1,000 and are honored at the NISOD’s International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence.
SJR State student Rebekah Wilson is the 2022 recipient of the Scott Wright Student Essay Contest. From left: Dr. Patrick Arnwine, Rebekah Wilson, SJR State President Joe Pickens and NISOD Executive Director Edward Leach.
Director of Public Relations and Publications