Hannah Dercks Wins PrayerSoup Scholarship Essay Contest


Elizabeth Bolin, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Here at Notre Dame Academy, faith is an integral part of day-to-day life. With daily mass, daily morning prayer, weekly adoration and school wide reconciliation, it’s no wonder that an Academy student would win an essay contest centered around prayer.

Senior Hannah Dercks entered the Prayer Soup Scholarship Essay contest and won $1500 and online publication as a result. The prompt was to write about how one prays or a prayer experience.

One winner and five finalists were selected from the 207 student entries.

“I decided to write about a part of my past that showed me the power of prayer and the many ways it can change our lives,” said Dercks, who wrote about a near death/paralyzation accident that her father had when she was in middle school.

“It’s a painful memory, but I look back on those dark December days with gratitude,” she said. Dercks’ father made a full and unexpected recovery.

The only restriction was a word count under 1500 and Dercks wove  a masterful narrative detailing the life-changing event.

“I learned the importance of prayer, and I also learned that miracles are real. My father’s optimism during this time inspired and continues to inspire me.”

Dercks is thankful to Ann Carr and the Prayer Soup Team for selecting her essay as the winner.

Numerous others received her gratitude:  “I would also like to thank the individuals that have inspired and pushed me to become the best writer I can be. Dad, thank you for teaching me about the importance of hope and optimism.  Without your great attitude, I wouldn’t have done as well during your accident as I did. Mom, thank you for being my inspiring and fantastic writing instructor. Mrs. Brown, thank you for teaching, motivating and pushing me to become the best writer I can. And I can’t forget all the letters of recommendation you’ve written for me!  I am so grateful and blessed to have such an influential and incredible teacher in my life. Thank you to my other amazing English teachers–Ms. Jochman and Mrs. Thillman–for teaching me about the beauty of literature and the importance of grammatical excellence.”

Dercks considers writing scholarships an excellent way to get a head start on college as well as an excellent source for writing inspiration.  She will attend UW-Madison in the fall.

“As a writer, my goal is to make a mark on this world and leave my readers with a positive message to ponder regarding the humanity we share. I want my readers to feel something, to stir their emotions, to bring tears to their eyes… The purpose of the story is not to read it, but to live it and become better because of it,” she explained.

Dercks’ essay is posted online at prayersoup.org.