UC Berkeley News


Fabilli-Hoffer judges honor five essayists
Arts administrator Michele Rabkin is this year’s sole staff winner

| 03 March 2004

Political science graduate student Casey Domingues wrote the first-place essay in this year’s Lili Fabilli and Eric Hoffer essay contest, the only competition administered by the Committee on Prizes that is open to faculty and staff as well as students. Three other students and a staff person took home the remaining prizes for their ruminations on the open-ended topic for the 2004 competition: “What Were They Thinking?”

The judges awarded second- and third-place prizes, respectively, to undergraduates Ken Prola and Ana Martinez. Tied for fourth place were Michele Rabkin, associate director of the campus Consortium for the Arts, and Sarang Dalal, a bioengineering grad student.

Topics for the annual campus contest are different each year, but are always very broad so that entrants have great freedom in how to respond. According to Anne Repp of the Office on Prizes, this year’s topic elicited some very imaginative essays: What were Ms. Fabilli and Mr. Hoffer thinking when they established this contest? What went through Neil Armstrong’s mind when he went to the moon? What were America’s leaders thinking when they went to war in Vietnam? What would Martians think if they landed on Earth?

Rabkin wrote about her parents’ wedding portrait, taken shortly after they tied the knot in a Brooklyn courthouse — thus avoiding the formal wedding and extravagant reception, “with chicken-liver swans,” that the older generation had in mind.

Judges for the annual campus contest — which imposes a 500-word maximum word limit — evaluate entries on the basis of originality of thought and excellence in writing, and each year decide how to split the prize money. This time they awarded $1,000 for first place, $750 for second, $500 for third, and $375 for each fourth-place winner. There were 22 entries in all. Winning essays are on file in the Bancroft Library archives.