Bay students win state writing honors

ESCANABA — Each year, Bay College and all of Michigan’s community colleges participate in the Liberal Arts Network for Development (LAND) Writing Competition. During the fall semester, any current Bay College student was eligible to submit up to three entries in each of three categories: fiction, poetry, and essay. The top two entries in each category advanced to the state competition.

This year, Bay College had two state-level winners. Kayla Johnson’s “You Have a Right to Say No” was awarded the first-place prize of $150 in poetry. Nicholas Folcik’s “American Machines” claimed a second-place prize of $100 in the essay category.

Johnson is a second-year Bay College student, originally from Fruitland, Idaho. After graduating from Bay College, she plans to attend Northern Michigan University to earn a bachelor’s degree in social work and then become a social worker for Child Protective Services. In her free time, she likes to write, draw, play music, and snowboard.

Bay College Political Science Instructor Molly Campbell, Johnson’s faculty sponsor for the writing competition, said, “When Kayla first shared some of her personal writings with me, I was immediately impressed with her ability to create striking visual images and invoke powerful emotions with her words. Her expressive and heartfelt writings are deeply relevant to current social issues.”

LAND Writing Competition judges remarked that Johnson’s entry has a “strong narrative voice, great use of descriptive language. The ‘action’ of the poem is moving, yet complex in emotion. The writer does not simply take us through an experience, but also on a journey.”

Folcik, a pre-engineering student originally from White Bear Lake, Minn., resides in Escanaba. He plans to transfer to Michigan Tech after his time at Bay College to pursue a mechanical engineering degree. He is interested in the development of logistical and construction equipment but is open to other career opportunities.

“He is a very talented writer. His ability to bring images to life through his words seems effortless. Not only does his writing include rich, descriptive elements, it is also structurally and mechanically sound, making it very easy to comprehend. Nick has a strong work ethic and was an ideal student; he is eager to learn and takes full advantage of opportunities to improve the quality of his work,” said Bay College English Instructor Jennifer McCann, Folcik’s faculty sponsor for the LAND competition,

The LAND essay category judges commented that his essay “is an unexpectedly intense recounting of what on the surface seems like an insignificant task, but, as the author explains, has big implications both for his Marine Corps unit and his future. This compelling look at the incidental circumstances which led the writer to determine his path makes interesting use of metaphor, simile, and internal monologue to bring the reader into his story.”

An awards ceremony and presentation of prizes will be held at the LAND awards luncheon on Friday, Feb. 17, at the Shoreline Inn in Muskegon, Mich.

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