Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon


The winners of the Writing Center's Fall 2014 Best Essay Contest are:

1st Place:
Kelly Murphy
2nd Place:
JoLeen Zentner
3rd Place:
Josh Falkenstein

The Rock Creek Writing Center helps PCC students from all disciplines and writing levels achieve their writing goals and become better writers. We can help with any stage of the writing process.

If it has to do with words, we can help.

The center is staffed by PCC instructors who can provide assistance in the following areas:

  • Generating ideas by using brainstorming techniques
  • Overcoming writer's block and anxiety about writing
  • Developing ideas, reasons, examples, arguments
  • Finding useful sources for writing
  • Organizing material
  • Finding the focus (thesis) of a piece of writing
  • Understanding a grammatical point
  • Writing stronger introductions and conclusions
  • Writing more concisely
  • Writing essays, creative work, resumes, scholarship letters, applications and more
  • Documenting sources using MLA or APA documentation

The Mighty Pen

Spring 2015
  • Research Toolbox (with George Zamzow):
    • Thursday April 16, 2-2:30pm in the RC Writing Center
    • Monday April 20, 11:30-12pm in the PCC-Rock Creek Library
  • Quoting and Citing Sources (with Amy Forester):
    • Monday May 11, 10:30-11am in the PCC-Rock Creek Library
    • Tuesday May 12, 2-2:30pm in the RC Writing Center

These 30 minute informal presentations help writers at all levels with various writing challenges - from catchy titles to editing strategies.


Monday through Thursday:
9am to 6pm
10am to 2pm
10am to 2pm

Dedicated walk-in hours are Monday-Thursday from 11am to 2pm - no appointment necessary!


  • Amy Forester
  • Andrew Zboralski
  • Carol Claassen
  • Cheri Woods-Edwin
  • Christina Kavehrad
  • Erin Ergenbright
  • Eric Danko
  • Kyle Lang
  • George Zamzow
  • Marianne Monson
  • Michael Street
  • Oscar Oswald
  • Ralph Matthes
  • Samantha Rittenhouse

Attention WR 121 Instructors:

The Writing Center Best Essays Contest aims to encourage WR 121 students by honoring their writing. 

New this term, there are two contest categories:

Best Academic Essay
  • Winner receives $100
  • Strong entries will be thesis-driven, evidence-based examples of academic writing
Best Creative Nonfiction
  • Winner receives $100 and the essay is published in the Bellwether Review
  • Winners in this category tend to be experimental, narrative, or other creative modes; for examples, check out last year's Bellwether Review

*The runner up (the next strongest essay after the two winning essays) will receive $50

How to nominate

Instructors may nominate up to two essays per section.

The essays should be predominantly narrative and descriptive in mode.

Make sure the essay has the student's and your name on it. If possible get student’s phone and address as well.

All essays must be typed.

Put a copy of the essay(s) in the mailroom slot for Nick Hengen Fox or email to nick.hengenfox@pcc.edu.

Best Essay Prize Winners

Winter 2015

Thesis-driven category: Keegan Bradberry, "A Mind in Bloom" (Instructor: Dana Harker)

Creative non-fiction category: Terron Whitney, "Caught in a Veil of Dust" (Instructor: Angie Berdahl)

Fall 2014

1st: Kelly Murph, "Lightening is Not Thunder" (Instructor: Kyle Lang)

2nd: JoLeen Zentner, "The Teacher" (Instructor: Kelly LeFave)

3rd: Josh Falkenstein, "Alone With My Thoughts" (Instructor: Marianne Monson)

Winter 2013

1st: Derek Holt, "Breaking the Bonds" (Instructor: Andy Zboralski)

2nd: Stephanie Langley-Catti, "Omega 3s" (Instructor: Marianne Monson-Burton)

3rd: Aishah Majeed, "The Not-So-Princess Diaries" (Instructor: Craig Buchner)

Fall 2012

1st: Lyndsey Davis, "Lessons Learned From a Schizophrenic Mother"

Spring 2012

1st: Alex Luse, "Fatherhood and Heroism" (Instructor: Mary Sylwester)

2nd: Kaylee Spaziani, "The Freedom of the Steens" (Instructor: Maggie Rehm)

3rd: Matt Harada, "Eat the Wrapper" (Instructor: Marianne Monson)

Honorable Mention: Maria Martinez, "My Place is in Motion" (Instructor: Maggie Rehm)

Winter 2012

1st: Brittany Smith, "When Nature Attacks, You Can't Always Bee Prepared" (Instructor: Paige Talbot)

2nd: Jessi Dobson, "Seeing Life" (Instructor: Jason Larson)

3rd: John Motte, "How to Harass a Police Officer Legally" (Instructor: Art Leo)

Fall 2011

1st: "The Mirror" by Kathleen Miller (Instructor: Jason Larson)

2nd: "Charmbreaker" by Jessica Swafford (Instructor: John Zackel)

3rd: "Night Visitors" by Marisha Knutson (Instructor: Marianne Monson)

Fall 2010

1st: "A Fork in the Road" by Jason Pederson (Instructor: Angie Berdah)

2nd: "What Comes After Wonderland" by Alex Moyer (Instructor: Melissa Manolas)

3rd: "This Place is a Prison" by Emeline Le (Instructor: Marianne Monson)

Honorable Mention: "Demon Days" by Kaia Renouf (Instructor: Andy Zboralski)

Spring 2010

1st: "A Train Ride Through the Garden" by Sami Badzik (Instructor: Kyle Lang)

2nd: "The Farmer Takes a Wife" by Susan Urbanski (Instructor: John Morrison)

3rd: "Press One for Two, Press Two for One" by Michael Levasseur (Instructor: Melissa Rue)

Honorable Mention: "Whiskey & Wanderlust" by Jeff Barker (Instructor: Kyle Lang)