UC Students Win National Essay Contest

Sarah Setters and Reed Spata, two undergraduates at UC, earn first and second place in a national essay contest.

Sarah Setters and Reed Spata, two undergraduate students at University of the Cumberlands (UC), earned national recognition after receiving first and second place in the National French Week Essay Contest, sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of French.

“Both students exhibited strong writing that showed a clear understanding of the importance of the French language and culture in today’s world,” said Dr. Laura Dennis, professor of French and chair of the World Languages Department at UC, who encouraged the students to submit their essays to the contest.

The theme for the contest was, “En avant vers les nouvelles frontières du français,” translated into English as, “Onward to new frontiers for French.” Submissions were limited to five essays per university with judging criteria based on originality, written expression and overall relevance to the theme.

Setters, a senior from Covington, Kentucky, and the first place winner, wrote about paternity leave in France and its impact on gender equality and family balance. Spata, a business administration major from Taylor Mill, Kentucky, placed second for his essay that explored France’s growing role in the intelligence community.

“UC historically has done extremely well in this contest, with students placing four out of the five years we competed, but to have these two students take the top two spots was truly extraordinary, particularly as we are so much smaller than some of the other schools and departments that compete,” Dennis said.

Both Setters and Spata are minoring in French and entered the World Languages Department with the intention of becoming fluent in the language.

“My French experience at Cumberlands has been absolutely amazing, and I credit every bit of my experience to Dr. Dennis,” Spata said. “She wants every student to succeed.”

Located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, University of the Cumberlands is an institute of regional distinction that currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major areas of study; 10 pre-professional programs; 10 graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certificates in education; and online programs.