MADISON, Wis. – University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross has announced three undergraduate student winners of the annual UW System Liberal Arts Essay Scholarship Competition.

Now in its 11th year, the competition was established to support and promote student learning and liberal education throughout the state’s public university system. This year’s essay prompt invited students to write a letter to the editor of their hometown paper that articulates and defends the student’s position on the purpose and value of a liberal arts education.

Three students have been honored for writing outstanding essays:

  • Hannah Helwig, UW-Platteville, “Dear Editor: It Has to Be Both”
  • Bill Mulligan, UW-Madison, “The Storytelling Scientist”
  • Kevin Lyndon Veloso, UW Baraboo/Sauk County, “The Greatest Way to Connect”

Winners each receive a $2,000 scholarship to help fund their undergraduate education.

Honorable mentions were awarded to three student writers:  Olivia De Valk, UW-Stevens Point; Yasha Hoffman, UW-Madison; and Avery Wehrs, UW-La Crosse.

“Students from 12 UW institutions took up the challenge to write essays for this year’s competition, and the results highlight for all of us the thoughtful and insightful students we are privileged to have at our institutions,” Cross said. “The winning essays make a compelling case for how well the diverse and practical liberal education we seek to provide students in the UW System can prepare them to be active and engaged citizens.”

The annual competition is part of the UW System’s Liberal Education Initiative, which seeks to make the goals and outcomes of liberal arts education accessible and valuable to all UW students, regardless of major or degree program.  Through a partnership with the Association of American Colleges & Universities and its national campaign, Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP), the initiative further seeks to spark public debate about the kinds of knowledge and skills that are needed to prepare today’s students for their future roles as citizens.

For more information about the initiative and to see the winning essays, visit

Media Contact

Alex Hummel UW System (608) 262-4463