Manhattanville Reid Castle In the Spring

Students Honored For Freshman Essays

Sophomores Yonathan Ledesma, Kate Shannon and Ankober Yewondwossen were recognized for their outstanding Freshman Essays at this year’s Convocation.  The development of this significant paper occurs in the First-Year Program, and is the culminating assignment for all first-year students at Manhattanville College. 

Each year, First-Year Seminar instructors are asked to submit the best essay from their class to be entered into the Best Freshman Essay competition.  Following a review by a First-Year Review Committee, members of the Board on Academic Standards (BOAS) reviewed the essays and chose the three that they thought demonstrated clarity in writing, excellent use of sources and critical thinking, as well as creativity and clarity in intellectual thought.

Yonathan LedesmaLedesma, a member of the Manhattanville Advancement Program, was inspired by a question Prof. Megan Cifarelli posed to the class one day: Why is it that Homer at times glorifies violence and at other times creates highly emotional moments between the characters in the Iliad?  This question spurred him to think more deeply, and in his essay entitled “The Mortal vs. the Homeric Hero: A Homeric Warrior’s Journey for Glory,” he explores the conflict between heroism and humanity.  Of Ledesma’s paper, Prof. Cifarelli remarks, “it is a wonderful outgrowth of his intelligence and inquisitiveness, but it was honed by his remarkable work ethic.  I’ve never seen anyone work harder or push themselves further.”  The development of his award-winning paper was also supported by Prof. John Proctor, his writing instructor.

Kate ShannonShannon, under the guidance of professors Gregory Swedberg and Joseph Fasano, examined the topic of the Madres de la Plaza’s fight for justice during and after the Argentine Dirty War.  Described by Prof. Swedberg as “a deeply motivated and intellectual student, she says that one of the main lessons she learned through the process of developing her Freshmen Essay was how to tie together a variety of sources and narrow down large amounts of information.  She advises freshmen working on their essays to start both the research and essay early and choose a topic that they are interested in.

Yewondwossen, who has transferred from Manhattanville, examined the relationship between Baldwin’s work and John Keats’ concept of negative capability. In receiving this award, Ankober reflected, “I still remember the Opening Commencement and Convocation from last year and hearing the freshman awardees from last year being honored. I distinctly recall an internal longing for that award. I felt it was a wonderful testament to hard work.” Prof. Karen Steinmetz describes her student with pride: “Ankober does not settle for ‘good enough’...For Ankober, each question leads to another.  Her eagerness to pursue ideas both in and out of the classroom is inspiring.”

Click here to read these wonderful essays.