HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University students Joshua Thompson of Logan and Lesley Cruickshank of Sissonville took top honors in the fourth annual Dan O’Hanlon Constitution Week and John Marshall Celebration Essay Contest.
Patricia Proctor, director of the Simon Perry Center for Constitutional Democracy at Marshall, announced Monday that Thompson took first place and Cruickshank was second in the contest. Both students are seniors, both are double majors and both are headed for law school after graduation.
“It’s no small thing,” Proctor said of winning or finishing second in the competition. “We had some very good essays this year. Our students responded to the question we asked them to consider with essays that demonstrated a strong understanding of the Constitution. This year they were writing about voting, which is one of our most cherished rights.”
The essay competition is part of Marshall’s celebration of Constitution Week. Dr. David J. Pittenger, dean of MU’s College of Liberal Arts, said the competition “represents our commitment to help students study the Constitution and understand the value of being an educated and engaged citizen.”
The university also celebrates the memory of Chief Justice John Marshall, for whom Marshall University is named, during Constitution Week.
Thompson received $1,500 for first place and Cruickshank received $750 for second. Thompson, who will graduate in December, is majoring in history and political science. Cruickshank, who graduates next May, is majoring in Spanish and political science, with a concentration in International Affairs.
“I’m really excited; this is a really big honor,” said Thompson. “It was nice that we were writing about voting rights in an election year.”
Cruickshank said she wrote her essay during the summer while working in the governor’s office at the capital.
“It feels great to be recognized for writing about something as important as the John Marshall legacy is to this school. I’m glad to be a part of it,” she said.
The essay competition honors former local circuit court judge Dan O’Hanlon, who also devoted much of his career to Marshall University, at one time serving as chair of MU’s criminal justice department.