UM Student Wins $1,000 Scholarship for Essay

May 06, 2014

MISSOULA – University of Montana student Rebecca Collins recently was awarded a $1,000 scholarship for her winning essay submitted to the inaugural Phi Beta Kappa Association of Western Montana Essay Contest. The scholarship will be used for the 2014-15 academic year.

Her essay, titled “Reflecting the Active World,” exposes her love of connecting her studies and self-reflection to action while at UM.

“The University of Montana rests in a place of praxis,” Collins wrote in her essay. “It recognizes that intellectual pursuit does not remain in books – it propels students into engagement. Nestled into mountains and wilderness areas, embraced by a bustling city, I am of the world and strive to be a person of informed action.”

Collins, a second-year junior, is from Forest Grove, Ore., and studies English literature and environmental studies. In the fall, she plans to complete 12 credits of independent study on the Camino de Santiago, a medieval pilgrimage in southern France and northern Spain. Equipped with knowledge from her interdisciplinary studies on pilgrimage history, European pilgrimage literature and nature writing, she will walk the Camino de Santiago herself and do nature writing of her own.

“Ms. Collins’ essay demonstrates an admirable commitment to a searching examination of pressing human questions, especially the importance of thinking about the human relationship to the environment in an age of rapid change,” said UM English Professor Ashby Kinch. “The essay accomplishes this goal through an emphasis on the need for individual human growth, which she will endeavor to realize in her fall project of following the Camino de Santiago.”

Essay contestants were required to have a declared major within the College of Humanities and Sciences, have a minimum GPA of 3.75, have attained junior standing (minimum 60 credits) and fulfilled all of their general education requirements before applying. The essays were required to be between two to three pages in length and address the value of freedom of inquiry and liberty of thought in modern education.

“[Collins’] essay powerfully explores the importance of deep transformation as the root of commitment to making change in the world,” Kinch said. “The committee thought that the earnest and eloquent expression of that goal made it exemplary of both the mission of the University of Montana and the goals and values of Phi Beta Kappa.”

 For more information email Kinch at


Local, Forest Grove News Times, Forest Grove Leader, Hillsboro Argus

Contact: Ashby Kinch, UM English professor, 406-243-4462,