DCTC 2020 Student Writing Contest Winners

1st Place: “Jeremy; Mazda B3000” by Taylor Lupkes

The annual DCTC Student Writing Contest received a record-setting 21 entries this spring. The contest’s theme centered on stories and essays demonstrating personal growth. Taylor Lupkes, a Veterinary Technician major, took first place with her entry, “Jeremy; Mazda B3000.” Mya Smith, a Business Administration major, took second place with her entry, “The Making of a Monster.” Sophia Legare, an Individualized Studies major, took third place with her entry, “Calm Through the Leash.”

Taylor received a $300 scholarship for spring semester 2020 along with a $40 DCTC Bookstore gift card; Mya received a $200 scholarship along with a $30 gift card; Sophia received a $100 scholarship along with a $30 gift card.

Jim Kosmo, author of Monsters in the Hallway and Still Standing: The Story of SSG John Kriesel, sponsored this year’s contest. A retired riverboat captain, Jim has won 16 national literary awards and was recognized twice as a national editor of the year.

“As a writer I greatly enjoyed the spirit, talent and quality of entries in this year’s contest—they’re all winners,” Jim said. “Good writing is cathartic for the maker and reader. Thank you.”

Learn more about Jim by visiting his website, Jim Kosmo.

Jim Kosmo

Three students received an honorable mention for their work:
  • Jesse Jonas: “Untitled”
  • Luke Seburg: “The Chat”
  • Natalie Sticha: “Wrigley Magic”

About the winning authors…

Taylor Lupkes

“Jeremy; Mazda B3000”

Originally from Richfield, Minnesota, Taylor Lupkes, 21, is earning an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Veterinary Technician. Taylor is on track to graduate from DCTC in May 2022.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Taylor is staying home from her job in permit management at Iverify in Chanhassen. She is focusing her career plans on becoming a veterinarian and one day owning and managing a shelter/sanctuary for animals.

Taylor has two older brothers and a black cat named Benji. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with friends and working on arts and crafts projects. Taylor resides in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Three words that describe you as a writer:

Taylor Lupkes Q & A

What is your favorite literary genre and why?
Murder mysteries because they are really good at keeping you interested

What is your favorite novel and why?
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. It was my favorite book in high school and painted a new picture of teens.

Who is your favorite writer and why?
I don’t have one at the moment.

What do you like best about writing?
I like being able to bring words to life and knowing someone in some way will be able to relate to it and might find comfort in not being alone.

Excerpt from “Jeremy: Mazda B3000”

A large, clearly enraged bald man started stomping his way towards me while shouting at me. Shouting that I cut his wife off and questioning why I hadn’t stopped, and how did not I see her. I focused on how angry he was, and how red his face was as he was approaching, the ground below him seemed to shake with every step he took, and I felt trapped and unarmed sitting in my truck. The words that were spewing out of his mouth did not sound like English, they just sounded like noise being carried by the wind. I was still not registering what had happened. I felt really faint and quite honestly, I just wanted to sleep. I stared blankly at the enraged middle-aged man while two other girls ran over and came to save me.

“All of the entries this year were wonderfully engaging. The stories were vividly detailed and thoughtfully expressed. I want to thank all of the participants. Your stories were a pleasure to read!”
Joe Campbell
DCTC English Faculty
DCTC 2020 Student Writing Contest Judge

Mya Smith

“The Making of a Monster”

A 17-year-old PSEO student from Eastview High School in Apple Valley, Minnesota, Mya Smith is majoring in Business Administration at DCTC. Mya will be graduating from Eastview and DCTC in May 2021.

Mya plans on transferring to a four-year university; she is researching schools in the United Kingdom and Australia. She is looking forward to studying natural Eastern medicine. Her goal is launching her own company, one offering services to promote full mind and body health.

Mya works in the fast-food industry while going to college. She has two younger brothers. When she’s not working or studying, she enjoys writing, reading, pottery, watching anime, going out in nature, yoga and meditating. Mya lives in Eagan, Minnesota.

Three words that describe you as a writer:

Mya Smith Q & A

What is your favorite literary genre and why?
Fantasy and horror are my favorite genres. I would say these two because with fantasy there are so many sub-genres that I love. Fantasy lets me see a new and different type of world from the one I’m living in.

I love horror because it shows us the darkest parts of life (at least with the ones I read). They show us people’s deepest psychology and what happens when our minds are pushed to the limit. Horror also gives me a thrill when I read. I keep turning each page because the danger so easily draws me in. Who doesn’t like a good thrill?

What is your favorite novel and why?
I don’t have one single favorite novel, but my two favorites are Alice by Christina Henry and The Child Thief by Brom. I never really like the original story of Alice in Wonderland. I found it boring and not entertaining, but when I read Christina’s horror retelling I fell in love with it. The writing style she has and the characters are written beautifully. I couldn’t stop reading because I was afraid of what would happen next.

With The Child Thief it was a similar thing. I was neutral when it came to my opinion of the story on Peter Pan, but The Child Thief took a place as one of my favorites. I love the way the novel drags you into a world of kids from broken homes and shows you how dark life can be, and how that darkness affects kids. On top of that, the mix of fantasy gave me so much inspiration for writing.

Who is your favorite writer and why?
Christina Henry and Brom. I equally love their writing styles and the way they incorporate both horror and a bit of fantasy into their novels. I also love their retellings of old children’s stories. Both writers inspire my writing and style.

What do you like best about writing?
What I love most about writing is that the only limits I have are the ones I set. If I want to write a crazy, nonsensical story, I can in order to express myself. Being able to write gives me a sort of power that allows me to express my emotions. My deepest thoughts and other’s darkest secrets. I do a lot of people-watching and you can learn a lot about a person just by simply observing their reactions. You see a lot and learn a lot.

I love psychology as well and being able to bring out those secrets and desires in the form of a story is one of the best things in this world to me. I want to be able to reveal the things people aren’t always aware of. The things people like to keep hidden. The things people are afraid to talk about because they think the same way. That’s why I love writing. It’s an outlet for me to express all these things.

Excerpt from “The Making of a Monster”

There was a beast that roamed the streets. One that hid in the shadows, one that demanded blood. It was dangerous and loved the thrill of a chase. The beast came in the form of a girl with red hair and crazed green eyes. It didn’t care about who it hurt or the consequences. Before the beast had been a kind girl who tried to save the one, she loved but she couldn’t. So now she stalked the streets looking for those she didn’t like. Looked for the ones who abused their power over others. Those who hurt others for no reason, soon began to be hunted by her. The blood of her victims stained her hands, but she believed they deserved it.

“This year’s entries are well developed, and some of the description sections are so strong that I feel like I’m watching movie scenes as I read through the paragraphs. Each entry is important and meaningful. The number and quality of submissions give our annual competition credibility.”
Wes Jorde
DCTC Philosophy Faculty
DCTC 2020 Student Writing Contest Judge

Sophia Legare

“Calm Through the Leash”

Sophia Legare, 17, of Northfield, Minnesota, is a PSEO student at DCTC. Sophia is earning her Associate of Science (A.S.) in Individualized Studies and has plans to graduate May 2021. She is certified in lifeguarding, First Aid, CPR, and AED. She is also a member of a registered therapy animal team with Pet Partners.

After earning her A.S. at DCTC, Sophia is transferring to a four-year college. She has plans to establish a career in the fast-growing field of cybersecurity.

Sophia has one brother. In her free time, she enjoys figure skating, volunteering with North Star Therapy Animals, and learning about computer programming.

Three words that describe you as a writer:

Sophia Legare Q & A

What is your favorite literary genre and why?
Anything nonfiction. I like reading about personal experiences. It’s a bonus if it involves animals or technology.

What is your favorite novel and why?
Again, going nonfiction, The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation or Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse Who Became a Hero. Both stories have a combination of history and how horses played a role in people’s lives.

Who is your favorite writer and why?
I don’t have a favorite writer.

What do you like best about writing?
Writing is a way for me to express my creativity and go in depth into topics. I like being able to research topics I’m interested in and putting everything I have learned or know about the topic into one cohesive piece.

Excerpt from “Calm Through the Leash”

It was mid-August and the evaluation day came. Would we pass? Would Serena listen just like we had practiced? We loaded the car up and drove an hour to the location. The test was held at a dog training facility, and right next door was a pet store. There were 3-4 teams prior to us that day. We had gotten there early, and I saw a Golden Retriever dog team walk out, they looked excited and happy, they passed. Then it came our turn. The evaluation started right when I got out of the car. We walked in the little lobby separating the pet store and training room. I held Serena as to make sure nothing happened between her or the other dog walking out. Long golden hair covered the black rubber mats from the previous dog. The room was spacious. Agility equipment, gates, kennels, and fencing lined one wall and a couple rows of chairs for the volunteers and anyone else to sit lined another wall. The room smelled slightly of wet dog, and a hint of slobber aroma.

“I loved reading this year’s submissions to the DCTC Student Writing Contest. The authors lived up to an obscure Finnish maxim about storytelling: ‘Write like the wind in a land without air.'”
Chris Hayes
Senior Writer and Photographer
DCTC and Inver Hills Marketing and Communications
DCTC 2020 Student Writing Contest Judge
Learn more about obtaining scholarships to attend DCTC by contacting:

Kim Shaff
Interim Executive Director of Foundation

Amy Eppen
Foundation Development Director

OR visit: Scholarships and Outside Scholarship Opportunities
Learn more about Individualized Studies at DCTC by contacting:

Scott Gunderson
Business Management Faculty

Learn more about Business Administration at DCTC by contacting:

Harold Torrence, EdD
Business Management Faculty

Scott Gunderson
Business Management Faculty

Learn more about the Veterinary Technician program at DCTC by contacting:

Nicole Nieman
Vet Tech Program Director

Christy Hutchins, DVM
Vet Tech Resident Veterinarian

Learn more about obtaining textbooks, course supplies, school supplies, clothing and gifts, study aids and more by visiting:

DCTC Bookstore
1300 145th Street East
Rosemount, MN 55068
(651) 423-8486