St. Olaf Institute for Freedom and Community

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The Institute for Freedom & Community Announces St. Olaf Student Essay Contest Winners

October 11, 2016

NORTHFIELD, MINN., The Institute for Freedom & Community at St. Olaf College announced the winners of its essay contest designed to generate insightful student perspectives on important political figures and controversies.

The contest, presented by The Institute for Freedom & Community, was open to first-year students at St. Olaf College. Students were asked to write an essay on one of two possible topics:

  1. If the two candidates running for President this November were Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, whom would you vote for and why?
  2. Who should be in your wallet? How should the recent controversy over faces on the fronts of the $10 and $20 bills have been resolved and why?

The following students’ essays were selected in the Hamilton Essay Contest and they will go on an all-expenses-paid trip to Chicago in December, including round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations, and tickets to the play Hamilton.

George Arbanas, St. Louis, Missouri

Alyson Brinker, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Matthew Dufresne, Chaska, Minnesota

Madison Duran, Hendersonville, North Carolina

Callahan Gergen, Hastings, Minnesota

John Goodson, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Erik Lepisto, Appleton, Wisconsin

Meredith Moore, Worthington, Minnesota

Molly Nakahara, Deerfield, Illinois

Devon Nielsen, Lakeville, Minnesota

William Randolph, Long Lake, Minnesota

The Hamilton Essay Contest was sponsored by The Institute for Freedom & Community, which is hosting an upcoming event on October 20: “Who’s in Your Wallet?” Hamilton, Jackson, Tubman, and the Presidential Election. This event is free and open to the public, and will be held at 7 p.m. in Tomson Hall 280 at St. Olaf College, 1520 St. Olaf Avenue, Northfield, Minn.


About The Institute

The Institute for Freedom & Community was established at St. Olaf College, a private liberal arts college, in 2015 to encourage free inquiry and meaningful debate of important political and social issues. The Institute programs, including coursework, the Public Affairs Conversation, public affairs internships, and public lectures, aim to challenge assumptions, question easy answers, and foster constructive, respectful dialogue among those with differing values and contending points of view. For more information, go to

About St. Olaf College

One of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, St. Olaf College offers a distinctive education grounded in academic rigor, residential learning, global engagement, and a vibrant Lutheran faith tradition. By cultivating the habits of mind and heart that enable graduates to lead lives of financial independence, professional accomplishment, personal fulfillment, and community engagement, St. Olaf College provides an uncommon educational experience that fully prepares students to make a meaningful difference in a changing world.