Gogebic Community College

Writing Contest Winners Announced


2022 Writing Contest Winners Named

Below are the winners of GCC’s annual creative writing contest, held across both campuses. Many thanks to all the participants who submitted their beautiful work and to the GCC Foundation for generously funding the prizes. We’re also grateful for the faculty and staff judges who volunteered their time to read and vote on all the entries.

The first and second-place entries have been entered in the state-wide contest with the Liberal Arts Network for Development. Questions about past or future contests can be sent to the contest coordinator, Cynthia Brandon-Slocum.


First Place: "If Only in Another Lifetime" by Audrey Hiner

Second Place: "The Passover" by David Olson 

Third Place:  "The Night that Proposed Red" by Paul Olson

Judges: Kristie Heinonen, Matthew Gage, Emily Geiger, Kari Klemme, Kobe Lorendo, Mariah Partanen


Creative Nonfiction

First Place: "Hidden Mornings" by Jersey Hoover

Second Place: "Alarming" by Adrienne Newman

Third Place: "Baby" by Megan Harma

Judges: Zackary Bowers, Danielle Boyette, Melissa Helppi, Paul LaBine, Kobe Lorendo



First Place: "Staring Still" by Charlotte Haanela 

Second Place: "A Place That Does Not Exist" by Melody Vaughn

Third Place: "Roads and Woods, or Whatever" by Rowan Kivikko

Judges: Karen Ball, Andrew Burt, Yolanda Lozano, Peter McKenna, Steve Spets


Read the winning pieces, the writers’ bios, and the comments from our judges below. Click on the title to read the winning piece.



"If Only in Another Lifetime" by Audrey Hiner

Audrey Hiner lives in Tapiola, MI. One of her favorite things to do is riding and racing her horses, reading bitter-sweet romance novels (with action and other elements of course), and creating art by painting or on her tablet. Audrey loves the beach, the calming peace of nature always helping her calm her nerves after a long day. She is in love with traveling and is intrigued by stories that take place in times earlier than her own as shows in her writing. The story she submitted is only a snippet of a larger work she intends to finish, following the story of Vesper and Gilbert through its heart wrenching twists and turns.

Judges’ Comments

  • Very thoughtful, really liked the element of suspense that was involved.
  • This piece doesn't waste any time creating a hook and a strong sense of anticipation as you sit on the edge of your seat wanting to know what will happen next.
  • The writer instills anticipation in the reader... I like the suspense.
  • It is captivating; it left me wanting to know more about Vesper's story and this Gilbert character.


"The Passover" by David Olson 


David Olson lives in Hancock, Michigan and is a student-athlete on the Hancock High School varsity hockey team. He is dual enrolled at Gogebic Community College. His hobbies include playing disc golf with friends and skating at out door rinks in the wintertime.

Judges’ Comments

  • Intriguing storyline in this essay. You want to know what the main character really saw.
  • This story is filled with details and leaves you guessing as to what the main character may be experiencing. It takes it a step further when the story ends with an unexpected twist!
  • Easy to read!
  • The details were very well written and it made the reader want to read the story.


"The Night that Proposed Red" by Paul Olson


Paul Olson lives in Hancock MI and is a senior at Hancock High School while also dual enrolled at Gogebic Community College. He plays hockey on the Hancock varsity team. He enjoys hanging out with friends and playing volleyball.

Judges’ Comments

  • This story leaves you guessing only to end on a twist completely unexpected and making you want more!
  • The story flowed well
  • The boy's curiosity had me curious and enticed... then the unpredictable ending!
  • I like the thriller style with a twist at the end.


CREATIVE NONFICTION                                                                                                         

"Hidden Mornings" by Jersey Hoover


Jersey Hoover is a junior at Northern Michigan University studying Criminal Justice and Wildlife Conservation Law and Policing. She plans to join the state as a DNR Conservation Officer. In her free time, she enjoys hunting and archery.

Judges’ Comments

  • This story is filled with details that make it easy to imagine being in the shoes of the main character. The story's message on the simple things in life also shines through strong, making you reflect on your life and the simple things within it that may be taken for granted.
  • The story is a simple one with many details and imagery that any reader can imagine.
  • I like the author's description of nature and his sensations. I also liked the introspective bits and thought they were well placed in the body.
  • This piece transported me to the woods and caused me to feel thoughtful. When the author wrote "My eyebrows furrow together as I try and comprehend how this happens every morning, even when I am not here to witness it." I immediately felt more aware of my location and role in the world.
  • It was a unique story from the rest. The last paragraph was impactful. It was an experience very different than my own but I felt the narrator's journey in a meaningful way.



"Alarming" by Adrienne Newman


Adrienne Newman lives in Houghton and is studying Business Admin/Entrepreneurship. She is perpetually chasing the next interesting story to live.

Judges’ Comments

  • This story takes a basic problem and creates a funny story on how to fix it. It was well written and detailed, making it so you can easily picture a step-by-step play of what is being done and leaves you simply laughing and impressed!
  • The alarm was a good way to get the noisy neighbors to be quiet! It had a sense of humor to it, but also a lesson, too. Get even with the noisy neighbors by making more (annoying) noises than they are and they will learn to compromise and be quiet!
  • It has a beginning, middle, and end with a clear flow of events. I like how the author started with the setting, then a problem, the solution, and all the descriptions and results thereof.
  • I enjoyed the style of writing and the story line. The emotions and experience were very different from my own but I felt the narrator's emotions. I laughed with them. I appreciated the normal setting with the interpersonal storyline about resolving a neighborly misunderstanding.
  • Creative, funny, descriptive. Very clever.


"Baby" by Megan Harma 


Megan Harma is a free-spirited woman  abiding in East Lansing, Michigan working as a nanny.  She is currently studying theatre and dance.

Judges’ Comments

  • This piece may not look like much due to the size, but the impact is massive. From the details to the message displayed, you can feel the passion and love the writer is impacted by.
  • This piece reminded me of my daughter. I liked the brevity.
  • Reminds me of all of my favorite parts of motherhood. Great descriptors “squealing” “drumming your little fists” and “silly pretty faces.” Very enjoyable creative read.
  • It was a unique story from the rest. The last paragraph was impactful. It was an experience very different than my own, but I felt the narrator's journey in a meaningful way.



"Staring Still" by Charlotte Haanela 


Charlotte Haanela is a third-year college student living in Chassell, Michigan. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English at Michigan Tech. Some of the things she enjoys doing in her free-time are skiing, sketching nature, and spending quality time with her beloved family. 

Judges’ Comments

  • Though short, the imagery in "Staring Sill" casts a clear vision, from the crystallized syrup to "the burned down gas station," among various examples that are seemingly innocuous yet resonate with metaphorical weight. Here is a poem that asks for more from the reader, to sit and reflect with the narrative and stare at that sill to ask: what else is "there, then gone"?
  • The economy of language is striking. The author is able to breathe new life into a typical storyline by reworking metaphors to create commentary on place that transcends the place they are discussing and its commonplace objects. Thus, the poem somewhat transcends place and time despite its brevity.
  • The visual nature of this poem is outstanding, and it actually taps all the senses.


"A Place that Does Not Exist" by Melody Vaughn


Melody Vaughn lives on the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan and is in college desperately hoping to figure out what to do with her life. In her free time, she thinks about writing, and sometimes actually does it, she also draws a lot.

Judges’ Comments

  • Technically, the best entry. Craggy rock metaphors and themes of the fall of nature, whether natural lightning or man-made isn't said. Regardless of interpretations of themes, this is easily the most exceptional entry. The alliterations, picturesque verbiage, the personification narrative of a mountain-top "king" falling while the woodland animal (or tree?) "sentinels" wait to return to their instinctual behavior is smart and clever. I am also a sucker for rhymes within rhymes.
  • I obviously really enjoy poems that discuss literal and metaphorical places and spaces. The author uses description and nature metaphors to transport the reader. The poem's narrative and title tend to keep us guessing about the true nature and reality of the location, and in doing so, add to the story that the poet weaves.

"Roads and Woods, or Whatever" by Rowan Kivikko


Rowan Kivikko lives in Houghton, MI. They are studying Environmental Sciences. In their free time, they enjoy rescuing strays and eating pastries.

Judges’ Comments

  • I am not always engaged by poems that riff off of other more famous ones, especially Frost who has been interpreted so many times, but I will make the exception for this one.  The author not only adds expressive metaphors about how life often engages us in unexpected ways but also engages the reader in similar ways. With "eggshells," "cartons," and "yolks," the author teaches us about the messiness of life and comments on our preconceived notions. I also wonder if the poem is referencing Orange is the New Black. Either way, they did a nice job.
  • The satirical nature of this poem overlapping Frost is great!
Scenic Background