Lalini Shanela Ranaraja, a sophomore from Sri Lanka, won this year's Vázquez-Valarezo Poetry Award.
The 2019 competition is the 21st year for the award. This year's awards went to the best student submission on the theme “Me, Too.”
In addition to recognizing excellence, the award is designed to encourage student poets to submit their work for consideration. Entries are judged on the basis of originality, creative imagination, characterization and artistic quality.
Ranaraja, an anthropology major, submitted work entitled “Proof Positive.”
Other winners were:
Briana ‘Bri’ Lee, second place for "And Lead Me Not Into Temptation." She is a senior from Elgin, Ill., majoring in biology.
Samantha Bruns, third place for “Overreacting." She is a sophomore from South Chicago Heights, Ill., majoring in creative writing.
Judges were Dr. Jennifer Heacock-Renaud, a lecturer in Spanish, and Dr. Kiki Kosnick, assistant professor of French.
The prize for first place is $75, second place $50, and third place $30.
The award is sponsored by Dr. Jeanneth Vázquez, professor of Spanish. The award is named in honor of two educators, the late Honorato Vazquez and the late Angelica Valarezo, writers who worked in the field of education in Ecuador for 35 years.
"My parents were a source of great inspiration to me," Dr. Vázquez said. "They were reading poetry to me even before I was able to read and write. I could not think of a better way of honoring their memory than naming the award after them."