Congratulations to the 2017 SimpleTexting $1,000 College Scholarship Contest winners:
School: Appalachian State University
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Entrants were asked to write an essay expressing how their mobile device improves their lifestyle. This year we received more than 1,000 submissions from students in the U.S. and in Canada, and Addison and Emily each took home $1,000 for the thoughtful, engaging essays below:
It is said that a good relationship starts with good communication. From letters, to telegraphs, to pagers, to phones, there have been countless ways that people have communicated overtime. With texting, calling, and Facetime capabilities, today’s times are connected on a new, extreme, level, however, millennials are often thought of as incapable to communicate efficiently. Maybe this is true. Many conversations are held with a phone, computer, or tablet as the messenger, and while that is unlike the communication used by our grandparents, or even parents, many would argue that today’s technology helps people be better communicators, and therefore, have better, stronger, relationships.
Six schools, four houses, two states. Needless to say, moving has been a very big part of my childhood and while that has taught me countless lessons and skills, it has also made for relationships with people that are miles and miles away. Nothing beats a good heart to heart on the back porch with cicadas singing and the stars burning brightly in the sky, but phone calls and text messages from far away friends never fail to make my heart smile. Thinking of what it would be like to have to send letters and and wait for weeks and weeks to hear from a friend makes me grateful to be able to pick up the phone and call my best friends when I need to hear their voice the most. The connection that mobile devices are able to provide has helped me keep and maintain special friendships that might have otherwise disappeared. Moving to a new place, and more importantly, saying goodbye to people who have helped shape me into the person I am is one of the toughest things I have ever done, however, knowing that they are only a call or text away makes the process a little bit easier.
The people we hold closest to our hearts are often filled and overflowing with wise and empowering words, or phrases that make us laugh and feel at home. Sometimes I wish that my grandparents lived right down the street. I wish that I could go and listen to them tell stories and hear about their days spent enjoying retirement. My grandparents do not live right down the street, in fact, they have lived states away at times. Between their constant adventures through countries they are knocking off their bucket list and my family’s moving, we are often very far apart in distance, but with the use of mobile devices, we are still close in connection. One of my favorite memories of my grandmother was the time when she Facetimed my family and I to show us her hotel room in Germany that she was very excited about. Being able to see the joy on my grandmother’s face even though we were seas apart brought joy to my face. I am thankful to have a mobile device that makes it feel like I live right down the street from my grandparents.
As I look to the future I see another big move, and this time it really is big. In a few short months I will be leaving my family, and adding another house onto my list as I enter college. While I am excited about the doors that will soon swing open, leaving my family will be one of the hardest things I’ve had yet to do. These are faces I see everyday, and voices I wake up and fall asleep to, and not having that will be a hard change to adjust to. While I am a brave, courageous, girl it gives me a lot of relief to know that my mom will still be ready to listen at any point day or night, that my dad will still be able to make my day brighter and laughter filled, and that my brother will still be able to come to me and I to him when we really need someone to talk to. I am confident that my relationships with each of my family members will remain strong because we have mobile devices that will keep our roots intact. I am thankful to have technology that is able to help me communicate with those I love, because a good relationship really does start with good communication, and good relationships makes for a good, sweet, life.
The Benefits and Importance of Mobile Devices
The summer before I began grade six, my parents purchased me my first phone. At that time, the sole purpose of the device was to ensure that I had a method of communication so that my parents could be sure that I was safe. While that old BlackBerry allowed me to text my parents, it also opened up the opportunity for me to keep in touch with relatives whom I only see every few years. I began downloading games and other applications, and my phone quickly replaced all of the video games that I had owned over the years. With access to entertainment, the internet, and communication with all of my family and friends, my phone became an excellent tool for me to use, no matter where I was.
I anxiously awaited being able to show my grandparents my phone, and showing them all of its functions. While they were fascinated by the games, one thing stood out to them more than anything else: text messaging. Within months, my grandparents had purchased a brand new smartphone to replace their outdated flip phone. Immediately, they were asking my sister and I to teach them how to text, as this would create an extremely convenient way to stay in touch with all members of my family. After handwriting my grandparents a short book with my Crayola markers, “Texting for Seniors”, I was bombarded with requests by their friends asking for copies for themselves. My grandparents had created a small texting movement within their community activity group.
My grandparents and I texted daily, and I remember that the excitement of seeing their name pop up on my screen never wore off. From simple “good morning” texts to asking how my day was going, or organizing a family dinner, texting provided my grandparents and I the opportunity to share small moments of our lives whenever we were thinking of each other. Following my grandmother’s cancer diagnosis, communication became critical to all of us when it came to meeting for various medical appointments or simply a much-needed family gathering. Waiting for her appointments, she would occupy her time often by texting her family or friends, reading an e-book, or playing a game of solitaire on her phone or tablet. After several years, she was hospitalized very suddenly. At this point, none of us knew that she would never be going home.
Only three months later, my grandfather, too, succumbed to cancer, giving up his own fight after the passing of my grandmother. Following their passing, relatives would always tell me, “Hold onto the memories of them, and they will always be with you”. Sifting through photo albums filled with pictures of us together, it always brought a smile to my face seeing the photos of these memories. However, it wasn’t until later that I realized that I was holding onto even more memories: all of the texts that we shared. In a time of sadness, re-reading our text conversations brought me great happiness. Reading a personal message that was sent to you by someone that you love and miss dearly, is an incredible feeling.
Fast forward to today, as I complete my final year of high school. I use my phone constantly to communicate with family and friends, as well as sending emails to communicate with others. My smartphone allows me to listen to music, watch movies or online videos, and keep up with news in the world. I use several applications to check my grades at school, as well as to plan workouts or keep track of personal activity and lifestyle choices. The utter convenience of being able to pick up a device and have the world at your fingertips is incredible.
I am so proud of all of my achievements from over the years, and while preparing to attend university and enter the world, I often reflect on past experiences and memories that have shaped me to bring me to where I am today. Not a day goes by where I do not think of my grandparents, whom I miss greatly. When I am having a rough day, missing my grandparents, nothing tops the feeling of being able to pull out my phone to scroll through all of our old texts, allowing me to relive those incredible memories.
Addison and Emily—thank you for sharing these wonderfully written essays, and congrats on winning the 2017 SimpleTexting scholarship contest. We wish you the best throughout your college career and beyond!
As you read the passage below, consider how Dana Gioia uses
- evidence, such as facts or examples, to support claims.
- reasoning to develop ideas and to connect claims and evidence.
- stylistic or persuasive elements, such as word choice or appeals to emotion, to add power to the ideas expressed.
Adapted from Dana Gioia, “Why Literature Matters” ©2005 by The New York Times Company. Originally published April 10, 2005.
[A] strange thing has happened in the American arts during the past quarter century. While income rose to unforeseen levels, college attendance ballooned, and access to information increased enormously, the interest young Americans showed in the arts—and especially literature—actually diminished.
According to the 2002 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, a population study designed and commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts (and executed by the US Bureau of the Census), arts participation by Americans has declined for eight of the nine major forms that are measured....The declines have been most severe among younger adults (ages 18–24). The most worrisome finding in the 2002 study, however, is the declining percentage of Americans, especially young adults, reading literature.
That individuals at a time of crucial intellectual and emotional development bypass the joys and challenges of literature is a troubling trend. If it were true that they substituted histories, biographies, or political works for literature, one might not worry. But book reading of any kind is falling as well.
That such a longstanding and fundamental cultural activity should slip so swiftly, especially among young adults, signifies deep transformations in contemporary life. To call attention to the trend, the Arts Endowment issued the reading portion of the Survey as a separate report, “Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America.”
The decline in reading has consequences that go beyond literature. The significance of reading has become a persistent theme in the business world. The February issue of Wired magazine, for example, sketches a new set of mental skills and habits proper to the 21st century, aptitudes decidedly literary in character: not “linear, logical, analytical talents,” author Daniel Pink states, but “the ability to create artistic and emotional beauty, to detect patterns and opportunities, to craft a satisfying narrative.” When asked what kind of talents they like to see in management positions, business leaders consistently set imagination, creativity, and higher-order thinking at the top.
Ironically, the value of reading and the intellectual faculties that it inculcates appear most clearly as active and engaged literacy declines. There is now a growing awareness of the consequences of nonreading to the workplace. In 2001 the National Association of Manufacturers polled its members on skill deficiencies among employees. Among hourly workers, poor reading skills ranked second, and 38 percent of employers complained that local schools inadequately taught reading comprehension.
The decline of reading is also taking its toll in the civic sphere....A 2003 study of 15- to 26-year-olds’ civic knowledge by the National Conference of State Legislatures concluded, “Young people do not understand the ideals of citizenship… and their appreciation and support of American democracy is limited.”
It is probably no surprise that declining rates of literary reading coincide with declining levels of historical and political awareness among young people. One of the surprising findings of “Reading at Risk” was that literary readers are markedly more civically engaged than nonreaders, scoring two to four times more likely to perform charity work, visit a museum, or attend a sporting event. One reason for their higher social and cultural interactions may lie in the kind of civic and historical knowledge that comes with literary reading....
The evidence of literature’s importance to civic, personal, and economic health is too strong to ignore. The decline of literary reading foreshadows serious long-term social and economic problems, and it is time to bring literature and the other arts into discussions of public policy. Libraries, schools, and public agencies do noble work, but addressing the reading issue will require the leadership of politicians and the business community as well....
Reading is not a timeless, universal capability. Advanced literacy is a specific intellectual skill and social habit that depends on a great many educational, cultural, and economic factors. As more Americans lose this capability, our nation becomes less informed, active, and independent-minded. These are not the qualities that a free, innovative, or productive society can afford to lose.
Write an essay in which you explain how Dana Gioia builds an argument to persuade his audience that the decline of reading in America will have a negative effect on society. In your essay, analyze how Gioia uses one or more of the features in the directions that precede the passage (or features of your own choice) to strengthen the logic and persuasiveness of his argument. Be sure that your analysis focuses on the most relevant features of the passage.
Your essay should not explain whether you agree with Gioia’s claims, but rather explain how Gioia builds an argument to persuade his audience.