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FAU Announces Winners of Student Join It! Civic Engagement Events Contests

BOCA RATON (January 15, 2008) –  Florida Atlantic University and the Alan B. Larkin Symposium on the American Presidency recently announced the winners of their student Join It! Civic Engagement Contests.   Part of two weeks of activities related to the upcoming presidential primary debates to be held at FAU, the three contests included categories for essay, T-shirt design and YouTube video production.  

According to Kenneth Osgood, associate professor of history and an organizer of civic engagement week, these contests were integral to the university’s efforts to encourage students to become more involved in the political discussion leading up to the presidential elections in November.   “Hosting the presidential debates at FAU has provided us the opportunity to engage our students in the national conversation.   With a combined total of 70 entries for all three contests, a variety of issues and perspectives were represented,” said Osgood.

The two winners for the FAU Speaks Out! Essay Contest were Shannon O’Brien, who won for her essay on illegal immigrants and immigration reform, and Sapna Ashok Talati for her essay on what she perceives as the political apathy of the current college-age generation.   O’Brien is a graduate student majoring in English.   Talati is a sophomore majoring in biology with a minor in history.  The two winning entries were selected from 50 essays judged by faculty from FAU’s University Center for Excellence in Writing.

Out of the 10 submissions for the T-Shirt contest, the two winners were Christopher Scott, who won for his design that included the phrases “Our Time is Now: Where Will you Stand” and “The Voices of Today, the Direction for Tomorrow,” and Nicole Beltran, whose t-shirt featured the phrases “Tomorrow’s Leader” and “I am a Voice Heard 2008.”    Scott is a freshman majoring in business and political science, and Beltran is a graduate student majoring in graphic design.   Both of the winning T-shirt designs will be printed by Award Excellence Marketing of Hollywood, Florida and given to students who attend Join It! Civic Engagement workshops from Wednesday, January 16 through Friday, January 18 in the Senate Chambers of the Student Union on FAU’s Boca Raton campus.  

There were nine submissions for the FAU Votes! YouTube Contest, and the winning video was produced by Josef Palermo, Cyndi Amaya and Kevin Tipton.   The video addressed the issue of human rights around the world and interviewed FAU students to find out their view on the issue.  

            All finalists and winners were given front row tickets to the January 14 FAU performance of Comedy Central's "Indecision 2008" and a ticket to the presidential debates at FAU in Boca Raton.   For more information on the debates and Civic Engagement events, visit

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