MCC Public Policy Essay Contest Regional Winners Announced

April 12, 2021

NORTH NEWTON, Kan. – The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Central States announces the regional winners of the annual high school essay and video contest. The  contest is open to Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and other Anabaptist youth of high school age and to all youth who attend Mennonite high schools within the United States and Puerto Rico. Youth were required to write a four to six-page essay on one of three topics – gun violence, immigration or police reform and racial justice.

Titus Roesler, a senior at Freeman Academy in Freeman, South Dakota won first place for his essay, “Gun Violence: It’s Time to Take Action” winning the top prize of $100. Angel Hernandez, a senior at Freeman Academy received second place for her essay, “Gun Violence – How can we restrict it.” Third place was won by Charles Hu, also a senior at Freeman Academy.  Hernandez and Hu received monetary awards of $75 and $50 respectively. All three essays will advance to the national level of the contest.

The judge of the contest was Donovan Tann, English Professor and the Language Arts chair at Hesston College, in Hesston, Kansas. When asked about the experience of judging the essays he said, “As I read through the essays and letters, I appreciated seeing how these young writers connected their research and faith commitments to some of today’s most pressing issues. Their work demonstrates the value of considering multiple perspectives, which is particularly important in our polarized climate.”

The three winning essays have been submitted for competition in the national essay contest. The MCC Washington Office will announce winners by the end of April. Through this contest MCC encourages youth to explore the relationship of faith and public policy as well as increase awareness for the advocacy work of MCC’s Washington office. To learn more about the work of MCC’s Washington Office, see

A special note of thanks to Freeman Academy’s English teacher, Clara Beseman for making this essay contest a part of her curriculum.  

UD Talks: Language and Literature

The mission of the Department of Language and Literature is to provide students writing and reading competencies, critical and analytical thinking skills, and literature-based insights and examination of values.

“One of the things that I love about English is that almost every student at the University of Dubuque has an opportunity to be a part of our classes, whether it’s in writing, creative writing, language study, or our literature classes.” – Donovan Tann, Associate Professor of English

I loved the opportunity to work with the University of Dubuque libraries to share some book history with my British Literature I class this semester!

Discovering New Voices: Hesston College


Grad School Q&A: Donovan Tann reflects on the courses and professors who shaped how he now teaches [external link]

Donovan Tann is a 2008 graduate of Eastern Mennonite University who now teaches courses in literature, writing and film at Hesston (Kansas) College. A member of the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program’s first cohort, he earned his English PhD at Temple University in Philadelphia.

How did your academic studies and professors at EMU prepare and inspire you for your graduate studies and/or current work?

Being able to have a faculty member as my advisor at EMU helped me to select coursework that interested me and which has contributed to my scholarship in unusual ways. I might not have taken as much interest in religion’s role in the early modern world without my introduction to theology course. I also had the flexibility to take senior English seminars in both French postmodern literature and transatlantic modernism, and these courses helped to prepare me for graduate school and to develop my voice as a literary scholar.

The mentorship that I received as a student, both formally through the honors program and informally within the language arts department, was crucial to my decision to pursue graduate study. I developed important intellectual virtues of critical thinking and reflection with my honors cohort, and I was honored to share an informal weekly lunch with Jay B. Landis in my last years at EMU. I’m immensely grateful for the way that my professors invested in me as a person and future teacher-scholar.

Read more at Eastern Mennonite University