Rewriting Realities challenges students creatively

The top three winners in each category will receive a prize of $300 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place winners.

Calling all creative minds: “Who Are You?”

That’s the question the Multicultural Certificate Program is asking during its third annual Rewriting Realities contest. The hope is for students to explore their own understanding of their unique and diverse life experiences through creative expression.

Students can submit essays, poetry, prose, drawings, paintings, graphic art and videos to navigate their identities to one or more of three categories: creative literature, visual art or digital storytelling.

There are no stylistic constraints, and projects are due Feb. 5.

According to the Multicultural Certificate Program’s site, the contest was a longtime vision of the Multicultural Certificate Program’s director, professor Etti Naveh-Benjamin. Naveh-Benjamin’s vision finally became a reality in 2013, and the contest has been organized by students ever since.

Last year, the only categories for submission were creative literature and visual art. This year, the digital storytelling category was added to give students an opportunity to express identity and creativity in new ways in an increasingly digital world.

Senior and former Maneater staffer Elise Schmelzer oversees and plans Rewriting Realities. Schmelzer has worked for the Multicultural Certificate Program since her freshman year and was present when the contest was first created three years ago.

“I like (the contest) a lot and think we could always use more arts programs,” Schmelzer said. “It’s an opportunity for students to consider and express their identities. We don’t have a whole lot of rules for that reason. We want people to feel like they can do anything they want.”

Last year, the contest saw a jump from 30 to 60 submissions, and the upward trend is predicted to continue this year, though it is difficult to tell exactly how many applications will be submitted just yet. Advertising around campus has been amped up in recent weeks through in-class presentations about the contest and the creation of rubber bracelets promoting Rewriting Realities as the submission deadline draws closer.

The contest has been open to students since Nov. 9. Although most applicants participate in just one of the three categories, students are encouraged to create and submit projects in as many categories as they desire.

After submission, student work goes through a two-round judging process. Submissions first go to the Multicultural Certificate staff where a panel of about 10 students and a director pick the top 10 pieces in every category. The 30 works are then sent on to a panel of judges that includes professors, community and student leaders and previous Multicultural Certificate Program advisers.

Every entry gets a score and the top three from each category are then chosen. The top three winners in each category will receive a prize of $300 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place winners.

The judging process will take a little under two months and winners will be announced in April. The Multicultural Certificate Program plans to hold an awards ceremony to honor the winners, though a concrete date is still in the works.

“We usually invite some different university leaders to attend the awards ceremony,” Schmelzer said. “Last year former Chancellor Loftin and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Jim Spain were there. I’m also hoping to put up some of the winning entries online this year if it’s OK with the winners themselves.”

Winning work will either be read out loud or on display at the ceremony and winners will be presented with their prizes. To submit, turn work in at or to McReynolds 58.

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