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Madison students honored for MSUFCU Paper Competition

May 31, 2022 - Beth Brauer

Four James Madison College students were selected for the MSUFCU Paper Competition for best paper in public and international affairs.

The award recognizes students whose writings showcase JMC’s mission to produce graduates who are well prepared to engage in cultural, political and social analysis; evaluate public and foreign policies and practices; and suggest creative strategies for addressing pressing issues in public life.

The awards are generously funded by Michigan State University Federal Credit Union. The following recipients will receive a scholarship credited to their Michigan State University accounts or a refund in the event the recipient has graduated.

The first place $1,200 prize was awarded to Ian Donahue (CCP ’23) for his paper titled “The Best Intentions: An Exploration of Cross-Cultural Interactions and Humanitarian Aid in Rural Mozambique.” Donahue is a rising senior majoring in comparative cultures and politics.

In second place, and receiving an award of $800, was Troy Distelrath’s paper “Whose California Dream?” Distelrath (SRP & CCP ’22) graduated this spring from JMC and the Honors College with double majors in social relations and policy and comparative cultures and politics.

Distelrath's paper is about homelessness and housing inequality in the state of California. He originally wrote the paper for MC 334 taught by Jennifer Goett, JMC associate professor of comparative cultures and politics. Distelrath said his professor in HST 411, Amy Simon, JMC assistant professor and William and Audrey Farber Family Chair in Holocaust Studies and European Jewish History, encouraged his class to enter.

A $250 scholarship was awarded to two students for a joint third place: Ludovica Margiotti (IR and PTCD ’24) and Maren Nicolaysen (IR ’23). Margiotti submitted the paper “Armenia: Economic Challenges and the Path Forward,” and Nicolaysen submitted the paper “France and Sustainable Development.”

Marigotti wrote her paper for MC 221 taught by Norm Graham, JMC professor of international relations. “The paper explores Armenia’s economic posture in the international arena, points to some of the challenges the country faces today and provides ideas on how to overcome these challenges in a globalized context,” Margiotti said.

Earlier this spring, Nicolaysen also was honored with the Ron Dorr Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Writing where she earned second place for the paper “The Belarus-E.U. Border Crisis: Coercive Engineered Migration over Liberal Institutionalism.”

“As a student in James Madison, I am almost always writing for a class assignment or project; entering writing contests helps motivate me to produce my best work for each essay,” said Nicolaysen.

The MSUFCU Paper Competition is open to James Madison students with sophomore, junior or senior standing. All majors are welcome. Papers were to be a minimum of 12 pages in length with bibliography and endnotes.