WASHINGTON May 22, 2006 — The Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) honored the winners of their first student essay contest last Wednesday at the U.S. Naval Observatory, the home of the Vice President and Mrs. Lynne Cheney, with the award presentation by Mrs. Cheney and IWF President Michelle Bernard.

IWF Essay Contest winners received their award from Mrs. Cheney and Bernard, following remarks by both women. The winners are: First Place, Alexandra Valenti, George Washington University; Second Place, Juliann Helen Vikse, Princeton University; Third Place, Kimberly Drewett, University of St. Andrews; and Honorable Mentions for Maureen Campbell, American University; Emilee Cunningham, University of California, San Diego; Lindy Dinklage, George Washington University; Ashley Fogle, Texas Christian University; Amanda Gatewood, University of Kentucky; Lindsay Kerrigan, Indiana University; Caroline Kocher, Gettysburg College; Christa Parmer, Solano Community College; and Lauren Racine, Gettysburg College.

“When we first launched this essay contest,” said Bernard during the award presentation, “we had hoped it would help us identify some promising young women and gather stories from young women around the country about their experiences on college campuses. I am so impressed with these young women who took the time and initiative to write about the important topic of what it means to be an independent woman today. Each of the winners recognized that to be an independent woman today is to believe in yourself, to recognize that you have choices to make and that those choices will determine your future.”

This contest, to be held annually by IWF, is for full-time, undergraduate college women of any age. All of the applicants for this contest were enrolled as undergraduates in any college or university during the 2005-2006 school year, and submitted a 750 word essay.The essays addressed their experience on the college campus as an independent woman and how their college or university helped or hindered their intellectual and personal growth, and what it meant to them to be an independent woman in the year 2005. The first place winner receives $5000. To read the winning essays, click here.

Judges for the IWF Essay Contest include: Abigail Thernstrom, vice chairman, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; R. Gaull Silberman, chairman emeritus, Independent Women’s Forum; Deborah Donner, Vice President, assistant treasurer, William H. Donner Foundation; Charmaine Yoest, project director, Family, Gender, and Tenure Project, University of Virginia; Melanie Kirkpatrick, associate editor, Editorial Page, The Wall Street Journal; Candace de Russy, Ph.D., board of trustees, State University of New York; Kathleen McCreary, national advisory board member, Independent Women’s Forum; Randy Parris Kendrick, board member, Independent Women’s Forum, Goldwater Institute.

Photo caption: Alexandrea Valenti awarded first place in the Independent Women’s Forum Essay Contest. Pictured at the U.S. Naval Observatory, residence of the Vice President and Mrs. Cheney, following the award ceremony are (l-r) Michelle Bernard, president of IWF; Valenti; and Mrs. Lynne Cheney. (photo courtesy of IWF)