NCTC students take top honors in regional essay contest

Pamela VanHook | Apr 17, 2014

North Central Texas College students MeLisa L. Haynes and Carlos Sebastian Lopez were awarded top honors in the 2014 Living History Essay Contest sponsored by the Texas Woman's University Department of History & Government and Ibid.: A Student History Journal.

The students were honored at the annual TWU Department of History & Government banquet on April 10. Both students received certificates and $50 cash prizes. Additionally, their essays will be published in the TWU peer-reviewed student journal, Ibid: A Student History Journal. The essay contest, directed by TWU History Professor Dr. Jacob M. Blosser, is part of an ongoing effort by TWU to establish academic relationships with the community colleges in the North Texas Area.

Lopez and Haynes are students in NCTC Professor Jane England's U.S. History from 1865 course.

"I was delighted to receive Dr. Blosser's invitation for NCTC students to participate in the contest and even more delighted when two of my outstanding students won the awards," England said. "The contest fit in perfectly with one of my extra-credit assignments; each semester I encourage my students to write a report on an interview with a relative or acquaintance who experienced one of the historical events covered in class. In this instance they received both credit in my class and also regional recognition for their excellent work. Hopefully this honor will encourage them to continue to research and write on historical topics and to focus on local communities and acquaintances. After all, history is all around us and everyone has a story to tell."

Haynes' essay "An Old Ship and Sailor" examined the career of Jerry Ray Galler who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and then worked for the Lewisville Police Department until his recent retirement. Haynes is currently working on an Associates of Science General Studies degree at NCTC. She plans to pursue a Master's degree in Communication Science with concentrations in Speech and Language. Her long term goals include teaching in middle or high school and publishing an inspirational articles and books.

"I am genuinely positive and enjoy working to encourage and motivate people to achieve their personal goals and dreams," she said.

Haynes was deeply moved by the interview experience. She noted that "the chance to sit down, listen, and record Jerry R. Galler's personal story face to face awakened a new passion. The time and care it takes to hear the emotion woven in the words of a man clearly devoted to family, tradition and commitment to country is inspiring."

Lopez's essay, "'It was like a Christmas Tree: Inside Civil Defense During the Kennedy Assassination" was based on an interview with Mrs. Peggy Kelley. Lopez, originally from Los Angeles Calif., attended high school in Aubrey. He noted that his greatest inspiration came from his high school English teachers who instilled in him an appreciation of the power of words. Lopez is a Criminal Justice major at NCTC and hopes to eventually work in law enforcement on a federal or state level. He dreams of being a Texas Ranger one day. His future plans also include sharing his love of writing by teaching high school English.


NCTC students Carlos Lopez (left) and MeLisa Haynes (center) are pictured with NCTC Professor Jane England after winning awards in a history essay contest sponsored by Texas Woman's University.