Graphic of stacked books

It’s important to study something that you’re passionate about while in college. It’s also equally important to have an outlet or two outside of the classroom that let you fully express yourself.  

For aspiring writers Louisa Schirmacher, Jennifer Wendt, and Page Sutton, they found that expression through a unique scholarship opportunity that paid them for being creative.  

That’s because students at Winona State University can become published authors before they graduate through the annual Winona Prize in Creative Writing.  

This contest is hosted by WSU’s English Department, and it rewards three students of any major $1,500 each for an original fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry submission—talk about a fun way to help cover school expenses.  

These student winners are then published in the front of the University literary magazine Satori.  

Check out what this year’s winners have to say about our English programs and this contest and learn how WSU can support your passion for writing. 


Louisa Schirmacher '25

Literature & Language Major

Fiction Winner

Louisa’s story “Tripping Point” follows two teens and the tension bubbling between them as they split from their tour group to explore a blocked-off cave system. She wrote it as an exploration of jealousy and how far down it can lead us before we realize we’re falling.

My English classes offered supportive feedback from both my instructors and my peers, which strengthened my preexisting story-writing tools and built my confidence in my own skills to help me succeed. 

Being published in Satori is exciting mainly because it allows my work to be distributed and experienced by a range of individuals, all of whom will approach it from different perspectives—something I hope to again get the opportunity to see in the future of my writing career.”

Jennifer Wendt ‘22

Writing Major

Non-Fiction Winner

Jennifer’s piece is about her experience as a young child of the ‘80s. In “My Year with E.T. and Other Reasons Why I Have Anxiety”, she uses the movie E.T. the Extra Terrestrial to characterize personal and historical events that occurred over a year.

Every professor I’ve encountered in the English Department has been supportive, encouraging, and truly wants the best for their students. 

It’s an honor to be chosen in this contest. It’s given me the confidence to continue writing and to pursue my MFA in creative writing after I graduate.

Page Sutton '23

Applied & Professional Writing and Writing Double Major

Poetry Winner

Page’s poem “Meet Me Halfway” is about the lightness of childhood love and what becomes of it as time moves forward. She wrote it because she found herself wanting time and space to look back on and appreciate life’s precious moments.

Winning the Winona Prize in Creative Writing is a huge honor and allows me to reflect on how I got here: by the hands of caring colleagues, English faculty, and family who always encourage my creative energy. 

The hard work and dedication I’ve put toward my writing feels acknowledged, and I now have a sense of confidence in myself that I otherwise might not have found.”

These student testimonials have been lightly edited for grammar, clarity, and length.