BY ALEXANDER YOUNG, STUDENT SUCCESS CENTRE
In November of 2015, in honour of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and Financial Literacy Month, McMaster students were challenged to reflect and write on the topic of money in one of two ways, a personal essay or a short piece of prose.
Over 80 students submitted entries chronicling their personal experiences and thoughts related to money – ranging from its effect on their upbringing, to how its presence or absence changes in level of importance throughout one’s life, to learning and appreciating the “true value” of a dollar.
While all of the submissions were inspiring, there were several standouts in each category. In the essay category, first place was awarded to Kyle Doucette, with his piece entitled, Double Doubles and Dollar Signs. Mavra Choudhry, claimed first place in the short story and poetry category with her piece, Counting. Winners were selected based on a range of criteria including creativity, writing style, language, and mechanics. In addition, the submissions selected as winners in each category delved deep into the theme of this year’s contest, sharing honest, insightful, and emotionally compelling stories.
Run in conjunction with Mac’s Money Centre, this year’s writing contest was part of a broader initiative to increase the level of financial wellness on campus. Officially launched in November 2014, Mac’s Money Centre aims to give students the confidence and knowledge to effectively manage their money during university through the provision of online resources and in-person programming, counselling, and workshops. As demonstrated by the response to the writing contest this year, this topic resonates with students.
Doucette, the first place winner in the essay category, states “Money is a pretty big concern for all of us [university students], and I think we all have our own opinion of it, and if presented with an opportunity we will share.” This resonated with Choudhry, the winner of the short story and poetry category, who believes that, “talking about money is so essential, but at the same time a sensitive topic.”
Despite its sensitive nature, an open narrative surrounding the topic of money was of common interest to entrants of the writing contest. Doucette remarked, “There is more than a dollar value to money, which I feel is something not everyone understands;” an increasingly important message for students preparing to move on from university life to balance careers or continued education with increased independence. He continues, “Once you graduate, it’s all on you. The more you learn now about how to manage your own finances is definitely key.”
To read the winning submissions from this year’s writing contest, as well as the honourable mentions, visit Mac’s Money Centre online.