Kishwaukee College Names Essay Contest Winner – Shaw Local

MALTA – Perla Gonzalez was recently selected as the Kishwaukee College winner of the 2022 Paul Simon Student Essay Competition and Gandhi/King Peace Fellowship.

In the Paul Simon Contest, Gonzalez wrote “How Kishwaukee College Changed My Life,” according to a press release. As part of the Gandhi/King competition, she presented a nonviolent response plan to issues of hate and discrimination inspired by the life and writings of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Both essays were submitted to the Illinois Community College Trustees Association to enter the annual statewide competition.

Gonzalez also received two $500 Kish scholarships and was recognized at the April 12 board meeting.

In her essay on how Kishwaukee College changed her life, Gonzalez discussed the flexibility of attending online or in person, the tight-knit community, and the financial benefits of college.

“When choosing my college, the biggest stressor was financial issues,” Gonzalez wrote. “Kishwaukee has been invaluable to me regarding my financial situation. I have been to the finance office several times to discuss assistance options. I am currently a debt-free student which allows me to focus on my studies.

Gonzalez, a Kirkland resident and graduate of Hiawatha High School, is pursuing an associate of science degree after recently being accepted into Kish’s nursing program. At Kishwaukee College, she is a member of the National Society of Leadership & Success, works at the Early Learning Center, and was recently elected as a Student Government Association leader for the upcoming school year.

For the Gandhi/King Peace Fellowship, Gonzalez advocated for increased understanding and diversity in her essay.

“I call on the education system to teach diversity. Teach children and young adults about neighboring countries, religions, races, cultures, sexualities, disabilities and all that makes us all unique. To understand, we must first learn and reflect on all aspects of a situation,” she wrote.

Gonzalez said she was excited about the opportunity to present a plan that addresses ways to combat hate and discrimination.

“Growing up with diverse background and experiences, I felt compelled to speak out about diversity and equal rights. This essay gave me the opportunity to talk about how changes can be made for the better , especially right now in our current climate,” Gonzalez said.

To read Gonzalez’s two essays in full, visit

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