Sofia Victoria de la Pena ’22 and Toluwani Roberts ’22 win CMC Summer Book Writing Prize

First-year students Sofia Victoria de la Pena ’22 and Toluwani Roberts ’22 are this year's winners of the CMC Summer Book Writing Prize.

Their essays on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein were chosen by the CMC Writing Committee and will be published in Discourse Magazine, a student-run literary/arts publication supported by the Center for Writing and Public Discourse. A discussion with de la Pena and Roberts is scheduled for 4:15 p.m., April 15, at the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies.

Judges noted that de la Pena’s essay, “He Made a Monster But He Is Not One,” provided a precise argument that “the dangerous combination of [Victor Frankenstein’s] abuse of science and his passionate ambition caused him to make the one monstrous mistake which afterwards ruled [his] destiny.” de la Pena, of Miami, said she was not satisfied with typical characterizations of both Victor and his creation as being evil. “It’s a topic I felt strongly about during my Freshman Writing Seminar, and I’m glad I got to discuss it in detail with my classmates and members of the CMC community,” she said.

Of Roberts’ essay, “Beauty and the Beast,” judges were impressed by the “wide-ranging consideration of the ethical and political impact of society’s judgments about beauty and ugliness.” Roberts, of Jamaica, Queens, was also inspired by her essay topic after coming to the defense of Frankenstein’s creation in class. “I felt like I knew that character better than anyone else in Shelley's novel,” Roberts said. “I decided to be vulnerable and get personal near the beginning and end of the piece. I don't equate Frankenstein's creature to myself, but we can learn from him.”

The CMC Summer Book Writing Prize is a $500 award given out each year by the faculty-led Writing Committee. All incoming students receive a copy of the summer book, but submitting an essay is optional.

For the 2019-20 academic year, students will read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.