Seen & Heard: Student essayist wins trip to Gettysburg

Joshua Hamel, of Schaeffer Academy in Rochester, was a winner of the Minnesota Historical Society's recent "Dear President Lincoln" Student Writing Essay Contest.

Joshua Hamel, who will be a junior this fall at Schaeffer Academy in Rochester, was one of two winners in his division of a statewide essay contest sponsored by the Minnesota Historical Society .

Joshua's award was announced May 4, during State History Day at the University of Minnesota. He was one of two winners in the "Dear President Lincoln" Student Writing Essay Contest , among students in grades 9-12. (The contest included a separate division for middle-school students.)

"My history teacher introduced our class to the essay contest, and conveniently, I was already doing my history day project on the Civil War, so I was able to use my interest of the Civil War for both projects," Joshua said.

Winners received a trip to Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania and an iPad to blog about their experiences. The senior division winners also will be offered a paid internship opportunity with the Minnesota Historical Society. (As of now, Josh has not finalized the details of his internship.)

The prize was co-sponsored by the state historical society and the Minnesota Civil War Task Force. The contest was conducted in conjunction with the "Minnesota and the Civil War" exhibit, on view at the Minnesota History Center through Sept. 8.


Joshua took his trip to Gettysburg June 30 to July 4, and it included sightseeing, watching the re-enactment of Pickett's Charge, participating in the "charge" to Plum Run, listening to informative presentations, placing flags on the graves of the First Minnesota and seeing the unveiling of David Geister's painting of the charge of the First Minnesota.

"I couldn't even come close to visualizing the massive number of soldiers killed at Gettysburg until I saw the vast cemetery where many of them were buried," Joshua said. "I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of graves, and many of the dead were not even buried there."

"It was a great time, full of fun, rich meaning, and so much learning I won't remember half of it," he said. "But from what I do remember, I have gained a much fuller understanding of Gettysburg and the First Minnesota. I am very glad for the opportunity to have attended this trip."

Warming degree

On May 19, Carol Evans, of Rochester, received an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters from the University of Sioux Falls during its commencement ceremony.

Evans attended Sioux Falls College, double-majoring in chemistry and mathematics and graduated Cum Laude in 1959. She went on to get a master's degree and doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Iowa in 1963.

After working as a researcher for the University of Iowa and DuPont, Carol left her profession and moved to Rochester in 1967 with her husband, Titus, and two children. She worked and volunteered in the school library and at their schools while the children were young, and in 1978, became a full-time volunteer at their church, First Presbyterian Church in Rochester.

"The title on my door there says 'Servant to the Congregation,'" she said. "I want to make it fun and easy for church members to get what they are looking for, and I like to make ways people can keep in touch and aware of each other."


Evans stayed connected to Sioux Falls, too, serving on the university's Board of Trustees since 1980 (she was chairwoman from 1987 to 1990), and in 1984 receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award . In 1996, she and Titus received the Inez Beebe Perisho Award for outstanding leadership, achievement, and Christian service, and they are members of the Glidden Society, the University's highest philanthropic society.

"I was very surprised and humbled when I found out," Evans said. "They called and informed me that the faculty and board of trustees wanted to award it to me and it was overwhelming to be selected."

In her commencement speech, Carol said, "Just as it takes a whole village to raise a child, it takes a whole university to raise a graduate." She spoke of the first time she stepped on campus, in the fall of 1955. "It was the beginning of an incredible journey, a journey that led me into organic chemistry and then returned me to be a servant of the school," she said. "For me, the University of Sioux Falls was the launch pad, as I pray it will be for you graduates as you set out on your own life journeys."

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