Libraries Short Stories spring contest winners explore 'The Other Side'

Short Edition short story dispenser
Credit: Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The winning writers of Penn State University Libraries Short Stories’ “The Other Side” spring 2019 contest shared a variety of perspectives and focused on the small, everyday moments.

“We were surprised at the wide range of characters, worlds and storylines that were submitted,” said Hailley Fargo, Penn State student engagement and outreach librarian and Libraries Short Stories Editorial Board member. “It was a treat to read all the submissions and a bit of a challenge to choose our final winners.”

Eleven student honorees range from first-year through senior undergraduates and represent four campuses, while three faculty/staff honorees encompass professionals from two campuses, and one honoree was a local middle school student.

Each of the four Libraries Short Stories Editorial Board winners and the People’s Choice winner will receive a $100 Visa gift card. All winners and honorable mentions will have their stories placed on the Libraries’ Short Edition short story dispensers. 

The People’s Choice winner, “The Letters,” received the most online reader votes via the Libraries Short Stories website during the contest. Its author, Anas Alamoudi, is a student in the Intensive English Communication Program at the University Park campus from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The Libraries Short Stories Editorial Board winners, chosen by the all-student editorial team and listed alphabetically by title, are:

  • The poem “I Miss My Sister” by A. S. B., a first-year psychology major at the University Park campus from Roslyn, New York;
  • Marianne’s Last Day” by Kristi Stokes, a junior English major at the Harrisburg campus from Palmyra, Pennsylvania;
  • My Sweet Isabella” by Holly Boxer, a junior elementary and early education major at the Berks campus from New Ringgold, Pennsylvania; and
  • Silent Distractions” by Chloe Cullen, a senior English major at the University Park campus from Washington, D.C.

Honorable mentions, chosen by the all-student editorial team and listed alphabetically by title, are:

  • 2:00 AM” by Ariel Hooks, a first-year English and history major at the Abington campus from Tampa, Florida;
  • Inheritance: The Other Side of Loss” by Jeannette Lang, instructor in English and Interim director of the Writing Commons at Penn State Altoona;
  • The poem “Isle of Joy” by Medina Williamson, a first-year biobehavioral health major at the University Park campus from Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania;
  • npc” by Bram Wallach, a first-year film-video major at the University Park campus from Bethesda, Maryland;
  • Man of the Cave” by Zach Struthers, a sophomore data science major at the University Park campus from Staten Island, New York;
  • The poem “The Other Side of the Stream” by Mark A. Williams, associate coordinator of grants and contracts in the College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State University Park;
  • Those Who Stray from the Void” by Nathan Ousey, a sophomore English major at the University Park campus from Exton, Pennsylvania;
  • Transcendental Love” by Michael Switzer, a first-year film-video major at the University Park campus from Yorktown Heights, New York;
  • Traverser” by Caroline Pinkse, an eighth-grade student at Delta Middle School in State College; and
  • The Woodlot” by Cecilia Gingerich, public relations specialist in IT marketing and communications at Penn State University Park.

In all, 77 submissions were received, representing nine campuses. This is almost double the number of entries from the fall 2018 writing contest.

The fall 2019 Libraries Short Stories writing contest will be announced after the beginning of the semester. To read all entries from the spring 2019 contest as well as all other past submissions, visit the Libraries Short Stories website at

Anyone with a Penn State email address and anyone from Centre County, Pennsylvania, can sign up for an account to submit original creative works to the site, and can vote for and also leave reader comments on other writers’ stories. Centre County writers not affiliated with Penn State will have their work considered for distribution from Schlow Centre Region Library’s Short Edition short-story dispenser, and some will have their work added to the University Libraries’ nine other short-story dispensers, along with other previous contest winners.

On the University Park campus, Short Edition short-story dispensers are located at the entrances to Pattee Library and Paterno Library, the Physical and Mathematical Sciences Building at 201 Davey Lab, and the Division of Undergraduate Studies office in Grange Building. Since early 2019, University Libraries-branded short-story dispensers also have been placed at Abington College Library at Penn State Abington; John M. Lilley Library at Penn State Behrend; Berks Thun Library at Penn State Berks; John D. Vairo Library at Penn State Brandywine; and Penn State Harrisburg Library at Penn State Harrisburg. 

Matt Ciszek, head librarian of the John M. Lilley Library at Penn State Behrend, is leading coordination of Commonwealth Campus Libraries’ short-story dispensers. He said most dispensers are scheduled to rotate regionally to the University Libraries location among all Commonwealth Campuses, likely on a per-semester basis.

For more information about the Libraries Short Stories website, the student editorial board, and short story writing contests, contact Hailley Fargo, student engagement and outreach librarian, at [email protected]. For more information about Penn State University Libraries’ Short Edition short-story dispensers, contact Rick Riccardo, University Libraries associate director of facilities planning and construction, at [email protected].