Talent Abounds Among Storytelling Contest Winners

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The results are in! Here are the 12 talented UCSF student writers and photographers who took home the top prizes in the Synapse Storytelling Contest. Be sure to return to the Synapse website each week to enjoy the winning entries throughout the 2020-2021 academic year.

First place

Science writing — Victoria Turner’s “The Power of Overlearning” introduces us to an intriguing piece of scientific research at a time when the country is learning to live in a multitude of new ways. Her well-crafted article provides insight into the ways we are hardwired, giving us the potential to exert control over our own minds.

Creative Writing — Nina Escueta’s “They Tell Me ‘Go Home’” is a beautifully crafted poem that lulls the reader into the writer’s nostalgia with evocative sights, songs and smells before delivering the shocking blow of bigotry. In this same way, racist violence bursts into the realities of so many among us. Her final line is delivered as both a demand and a plea for peace.

Photography — Hannah Sans’s “Signs of the Times” captures the empathy, gratitude and courage of the people of San Francisco. While trapped indoors, they nevertheless use their public faces — their windows — to express the strong emotions that we are all experiencing during such a tumultuous time, and in so doing, they bring hope for a brighter, more caring future.

Personal Essay — Henry Carter’s “Police Violence and the Creation of the Berkeley Free Clinic” revisits decades old episodes of violent suppression of peaceful protestors, and the valiant efforts of medical workers trying to heal their broken bodies. The story is an ultimate reminder that the past is never far behind us — history may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Second place

Creative writing – Wesley Kao “Abscission”

Photo – Ben Mansky “Mason”

Personal essay – Juhi Varshney “Broken Hearts”

Third place

Creative writing – Amber Por “Words of Advice to My First-Year Self”

Photo – Ali Zahir “BLM”

Personal essay – Janice Goh “Going Back to the Start of Today”

Honorable mentions

Creative writing – Ochi Chinaza “10:45am”

Creative writing – Elizabeth McCarthy “Do We Fit?”

Creative writing – Lena Alazzeh “Who Chooses Whom We Mourn?”

Personal essay – Rahul Nagda “A Journey Without a Destination”

Photo – Rubin Sorrell II “The Psi Omega Boys: The 5th Generation San Franciscans”

Photo – Nhat-Thi Vo “Focused Freedom”

Photo – Punam Patel “Seasons”