BSU sophomore wins $500 in national essay contest

Andrea Schwinghammer, a sophomore at Bemidji State University, recently took third place in a national essay contest organized by television news personality John Stossel’s “Stossel in the Classroom.”

Schwinghammer is a home-schooled high schooler taking classes at Bemidji State as a Post-Secondary Education Option student. She submitted her essay, “Politicians and Promises: What happens when people play god,” at the behest of Karl Salscheider, professor of human performance, health and sport at Bemidji State.

Schwinghammer’s essay finished third out of 3,944 entries from across the nation, and was one of 225 total essays to win prizes ranging from $50 to $1,500. The top two winners receive all-expenses-paid trips to New York City for a taping of one of Stossel’s weekly shows.

“When I saw this essay contest, I thought she’d have a shot,” Salschieder said. “I thought about her high grade point average, and then thought that as a deep thinker she would be creative in analyzing the aspects of where politicians go wrong in making promises they can’t keep, and the ethics that go along with that.”

Salscheider describes Schwinghammer as an excellent, innovative student.

“She’s a very atypical student,” Salscheider said. “But oftentimes, exemplary students are atypical in multiple ways.”

“It is exciting to see her do so well,” Salscheider said. “I’m glad that we can service her as a home-schooler, as a PSEO student. It’s a win/win for the homeschool community and for BSU.”

Her essay is available to read at the contest’s website.

Stossel hosts a weekly show on Fox Business Channel and was co-anchor of ABC’s 20/20 until Oct. 2009. He has won 19 Emmy awards and is the author of two books. “Stossel in the Classroom” is a project of the non-profit Center for Independent Thought, which provides free curriculum materials to teachers using video clips from Stossel’s television shows and specials. For more information on “Stossel in the Classroom,” visit

Andrea Schwinghammer, sophomore, undeclared  (56601)

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