Finalists for the 2010 Blogging Scholarship
We had so many entries this year that it took us a couple extra days to sort through all of them & pick finalists from all the great blogs. Here are the 10 finalists. Voting will be open from today, October 27th to closing at noon pacific on November 5th. You can vote for your favorite blog here.
Observations of a Nerd: Christie Wilcox attends the University of Hawaii at Manoa; Cell & Molecular Biology PhD Program. She blogs to help make science more accessible. In her own words:
While I appreciate biology from a purely scientific standpoint, I strongly believe research is useless if you can’t communicate it. There’s a great quote by Jules Poincaré that says: “Science is facts; just as houses are made of stone, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house, and a collection of facts is not necessarily science.” In my mind, what turns facts into science is the integration of research into society, whether for purely educational purposes or society’s benefit, and that the key to that is communication. That’s why I decided to start a science blog in 2008. As a scientist, I really believe that it is my responsibility to engage non-scientists and the public in general in my endeavors to give my work meaning.
Scientists already share what we do with each other. That’s what journals are for. I wanted to share what I loved with everyone, not just my like-minded peers. I feel it is important to take jargon-filled scientific publications and break them down in such a way that everyone can understand what is being studied and why it is important. In modern media, science is only talked about if it can be sensationalized. So-called “real” journalists seem to think experiments are only worth mentioning if they can be summed up in a catchy but untrue headline or are controversial. But every day I read papers no one hears about that are just so…. *cool*. Science is unbelievably cool, and I blog because I think that maybe if the rest of the world saw science how I do, they would think it was pretty cool, too. And maybe if they did, there would be more scientists doing unbelievably cool stuff for me to blog about!
I C You Pee: Josh Eklow attends the University of Iowa. This is Josh’s fringe artistic blog about local bathrooms. In his own words:
I have been blogging ever since I’ve had the tools required to blog. Most of my art projects either start out as blogs or become blogs. The blog I work on the most right now is my bathroom blog, IC You Pee. I have been reviewing and writing about every bathroom I have used in Iowa City. I do so in the hopes that people will talk to me, and each other, about bathrooms! Bathrooms are something that everyone uses, and that everyone has opinions on, but people do not talk about them. I feel that many problems in our country, and the world perhaps, come from people not talking about things they should talk about, such as religious, sexual, and political experiences, views, and opinions. The bathroom is a non-threatening place to start.
Temptalia: Christine Mielke attends Santa Clara University. Her blog is about beauty. In her own words:
Blogging is vital to me, because it has given tangible meaning to my heart and soul. Through blogging, I have learned my passion lies in beauty by providing firsthand experiences to help others. Blogging is my method of self-expression, but it has brought me together with like-minded individuals and allowed us to build a community based on that passion. I have been given opportunities to interact with my readers, both on and offline, and there is nothing more rewarding than being able to help someone—even if it is recommending a lipstick. That lipstick recommendation just might inspire confidence in a self-conscious teenager!
Everything is a conversation, and the conversation is open to everyone. The power of blogging comes from the ability to leverage a community of passionate experts, and one of the most inspiring moments in my journey has been seeing the entire beauty community come together to create a spreadsheet to help people find the best foundation shade. Each individual added their matching shades to the database so others could find their match and see comparable matches by other brands. It has become an invaluable resource, but it was only made possible by the contributions of the community. This is the meaning of blogging to me: the power of one person to ignite others into action.
Inspiring action is important, and blogs can provide the platform for it. A brand planned to launch a collection inspired by Juarez, but the product names were offensive to the community at large; 2,000 blog comments and a week later, that brand canceled the entire launch and pledged all projected profits to the women of Juarez. Every individual has a voice, and I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to share mine every day.
The Oakbrook: John Grennan attends UC Berkeley. He helps write on a locally focused Oakland blog. In his own words:
Oakland, California has lost police officers and school teachers during the recession. It’s also lost newspaper reporters, as the town’s main newspaper (The Tribune) has shed staff and the area’s main newspaper (The San Francisco Chronicle) has stopped paying attention to Oakland.
As a journalism student at UC Berkeley, I’ve had the opportunity to help fill the void over at The Oak Book, a blog I run with a friend. The site covers politics and culture in a city of remarkable diversity, much of which goes uncovered outside of blogs like ours. In the past month, I’ve written 10 articles based from my original and in-depth reporting on City Hall and the mayoral campaign.
I’ve decided to devote more attention to this blog than other journalistic work because I see the election as the fulcrum for the next four to eight years in a city that can have a better future. It’s also a potential model for other journalistic sites, where students can bring more attention to city politics at a time when newspaper staffs often can’t.
Innovative Interactivity: Tracy Boyer attends The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her bilingual blog is dedicated to multimedia storytelling. In her own words:
I’m pretty sure I laughed out loud when I first learned about blogs at The Poynter Institute in 2007. “Why would anyone ever want to read what I had to say?” I pondered.
Six months later I was working at The Roanoke Times and found myself frequently frustrated by the lack of passion and motivation in the newspaper industry. For many nights I scoured the Web looking for free resources where I could learn more about the industry and interact with others who were also passionate about interactive multimedia.
Unfortunately, my RSS reader remained sparse. At the time there were only a few blogs dedicated to multimedia storytelling. Out of sheer frustration, I signed up with Blogger to archive sites I came across and ideas I had during the day. Never would I have realized that three years later I would still be blogging as a full-time dual master’s candidate.
My blog “Innovative Interactivity” has evolved from a random collection of poorly written posts to a bilingual website with a rich archive of more than 500 posts. I will never be able to quantify how my blog has enhanced my life professionally, but then again I would have stopped years ago had I been trying to make a quick dollar. Rather, my role as a blogger is invaluable due to the hundreds of connections I have established with my readers, other bloggers and people I have interviewed over the years. The ability to inspire, educate and connect like-minded individuals is priceless.
As long as I believe I am providing my community with valuable content I will continue to blog, which brings me much happiness.
Thank you for your consideration!
Here I Blog: Mark Lamprecht attends New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He was nominated by 3 others & when he applied he highlighted why he started blogging and what it means to him. In his own words:
I started blogging out of frustration. I was frustrated about various theological issues in evangelicalism at large. I would write mostly vent at first. As time went on, I grew. I grew in grace, wisdom and understanding. I also found out later while looking back just how poor my writing skills were. Eventually, those grew too. Blogging, then, has been a blessing.
The real blessing, however, comes from the private encouragement I receive. People have written to ask if they could quote a line or prayer I had written. How very humbling. Mostly, they write to thank me for what I have written. They express how my blog has blessed them in one way or another. Surprisingly, they encourage me to keep it up.
Somehow God has used my blog to benefit others which is ultimately why I blog. Not that this is always accomplish after clicking publish. Yet I desire to edify others. At the same time, when I fail in this area it is an opportunity for more growth. Blogging is truly a journey through which I pray for continued growth for the sake of the regular readers; and for the seeking soul who stumbles upon my site while looking for an answer.
Whether or not I win The Blogging Scholarship is not up to me. Either way, blogging will still be important and I will press on. It is merely another opportunity that blogging has brought my way. And I’m thankful for it.
The Sam Jackson College Experience: Samuel Jackson attends Yale. His blog is about higher education planning. In his own words
I started blogging for two reasons: I wanted to express myself, and I wanted to make an impact. This used to mean writing about higher education marketing, or college admissions trends; I was proud of my blog and glad that it had connected with senior leadership at many different schools. More recently, I thought this meant helping high school students stress less and better prepare for the college admissions process.
Eventually I discovered the real value of my blog. This is measured not in monetary terms, but in less tangible ways. My blog and accompanying website has had a huge impact for my online identity and reputation. Searching ‘sam jackson’ on Google delivers my blog as a top result, and this fact has been responsible for my professional successes more than any other.
Digital identity management is not, at first glance, a sexy topic, but it’s incredibly important, and sorely misunderstood. Managing your identity online means more than just keeping photos off Facebook of that last party; it means putting your best face forward and controlling the message. For me, this directly led to one job, which led to another, and another… Even before it brought me internships, my blog brought me connections and benefits in the college search. Blogging and connecting with admissions counselors online meant that they knew me, and I got to know them!
When people ask me about my blog, they expect something trite about my imagined audience in the digital ether. Instead, I point them to thousand word treatises on the importance of personal branding. My blog has helped me get into college, it’s landed me jobs, and I hope now it can help me get this scholarship – the better to help me in my mission to make the world a better place.
Libertarian Christians: Norman Horn attends the University of Texas at Austin. His blog combines Christian theology with libertarian philosophy. In his own words:
I started blogging because I believe in the power of ideas. Good ideas fuel the engine of human progress. LibertarianChristians.com was established because I saw a lack of well-reasoned, just, and equitable political theory in the modern church, both Protestant and Catholic. American Christians in particular seem to be fixated on the two-party system, and they frequently possess no consistent philosophy for dealing with complicated yet critical subjects such as war, natural law, social ethics, and political economy.
Libertarianism provides a framework of ideas that explains how the world works and what the bounds of government truly should be. Moreover, libertarian philosophy is quite consistent with Christian theology. For example, libertarianism states that peaceful coexistence and freedom from aggression are the essence of civilization. Jesus’ injunction to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” proclaims a similar message, one that Christians could and should remember in the political realm. Both groups believe morality does not change once someone takes a public office or puts on a uniform. We are all accountable to the same standard.
Blogging allows one to enter the virtual world dialogue of ideas and make one’s voice heard. By speaking up just a little, I have put forward a clear message, engaged the world, and encouraged others to join the conversation. It is time for Christians outside the left-right paradigm to tell fellow believers that there is another way to look at politics. “Conservatives” cheapen the lives of innocents in war while supposedly valuing the life of the unborn. “Liberals” believe that more control over individuals’ lives will solve the problems we face. Libertarians say otherwise. Liberty has been and always will be the prime organizational principle of society, and Christians should be the first to understand its benefits and herald its triumphs.
Off the Mark: Andrew Bryz-Gornia attends Gustavus Adolphus College. Thi is Andrew’s blog about the Twins. In his own words:
I have been a huge baseball fan for nearly my whole life. However, it was tough finding someone that enjoyed it as much as myself. There was one guy that enjoyed collecting baseball cards, and another that would catch just about every baseball game on ESPN, but no one knew as many baseball players as myself.
Once I hit college, I discovered blogging. I had wanted to be a sportswriter when I was younger, but instead I decided to pursue a degree in mathematics and education. After reading the blogs of Star Tribune writer La Velle E. Neal III and various Minnesota Twins bloggers, I realized that I could still pursue my love of writing about sports.
I’m now approaching the first full year of my blog’s existence. It has allowed me to connect with other baseball fans around the country, filling the void that I had when I was younger. Now, I can discuss just about anything I want, and I don’t have to worry about “dumbing down” the content. I’ve also been invited on several podcasts to discuss Twins baseball with other bloggers, and have submitted an article to the Community Blog on the website FanGraphs.
Since starting my blog about a year ago, I have made many new friends and have strengthened my passion of baseball. I foresee myself writing this blog for many years to come.
The Reform Shuckle: David Wilensky’s blog covers Jewish liturgy and ritual. David attends Drew University. In his own words:
I am David A.M. Wilensky and I have a bizarrely specific passion. I am obsessed with Jewish liturgy. For reasons still not entirely clear to me, on September 20 of this year, I had 507 page views. That’s a new record for me.
My blog is called The Reform Shuckle. To Jews, the name is an incongruous blend of the liberal (Reform Judaism) and the traditional (shuckling is the rhythmic rocking back and forth that some more conservatively observant Jews do while they pray). This combination is exactly what I wanted to evoke. I blog almost entirely about Jewish liturgy and ritual from a Reform/liberal/progressive perspective, but I often arrive at what many would call “Orthodox” conclusions.
I’d be hard-pressed to pin down the most inspiring blog post I’ve ever read, but a series of posts by Ben Dreyfus of MahRabu.blogspot.com springs to mind. The series, Hilchot Pluralism is a description of guidelines developed for use in pluralistic Jewish settings where many styles of observance need to be recognized and accomodated. The content is amazing on its own, but what’s more compelling is that his guidelines have been adopted or referenced for years now by upstart pluralist Jewish organizations.
With Dreyfus’ as the perfect example, Jewish blogging has led to a diversity and a creativity of opinion that’s wholly new to the Jewish community. 50 years ago, his guidelines would never have been as widely read unless they had been written by a rabbi. But Ben is just a lone blogger.
My blogging has brought me enough attention that I’m now a contributor to Jewschool.com, one of the oldest and most well read Jewish blogs. I’m now being paid to write a book by a publisher I met through blogging. I’m also a paid editor/writer/blogger at New Voices Magazine.