Congratulations to the winner of Dear Abby College Columnist Scholarship Contest

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists Education Foundation (NSNCEF) has announced that Danny Bugingo of the University of Idaho is the winner of the 2018 Dear Abby College Columnist Scholarship Contest.

Bugingo will receive a $5,000 scholarship for winning the column-writing contest, based on three columns entered by college columnists who write for their school’s newspaper and/or media site.

Danny Bugingo of the University of Idaho is the winner of the 2018 Dear Abby College Columnist Scholarship Contest.

Danny Bugingo of the University of Idaho is the winner of the 2018 Dear Abby College Columnist Scholarship Contest.

Bugingo, 21, is a senior at the Moscow, Idaho, university, majoring in Math and French. His submissions from The Argonaut, the school newspaper, garnered the following assessment from final judge, Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page.

“I appreciated his fresh, well-reasoned and broadly researched arguments on some very thorny topics of our times — and delivering them in a crisp, witty and conversational writing voice that left me wanting to hear more,” Page said.

Bugingo was born in Nairobi, Kenya, and came to the United States and Portland, Oregon, at age 4. His parents were originally from Rwanda, a former Belgian colony, which accounts for their son’s interest in French.

“I’ve studied French and they can still say things I don’t understand,” he says with a chuckle. “That’s why I’m super excited to study abroad in France next semester.”

The Idaho student says he came late to writing and credits teachers for helping him find his passion. “I love writing. It’s my favorite thing to do,” he says. “I’ve always consumed a lot of media — listening to podcasts, reading a lot of newspapers, books.”

“I love expressing myself when I have an opinion on a subject,” he goes on. “But I’m also interested in the way we communicate. I think there are a lot of broken things in the way we use technology to try to create communities.”

Knowing that he was speaking to an adjunct lecturer at Indiana University, Bugingo, who also carries a minor in computer science, asked, “Have you ever met (Pulitzer Prize winning author and Professor of Cognitive Science at IU) Douglas Hofstadter? (His book) Godel, Escher, Bach (An Eternal Golden Braid) was ahead of its time, I think. His book is becoming even more relevant as AI (artificial intelligence) gets better. We’re trying to get computers to solve problems and strayed away from the original version of making AI more like human intelligence.”

Bugingo considers himself a typical college student, a fan of hip-hop music and soccer. He says graduate school is definitely in his future and he’s considering studying law, among other things.

Finalists in the Dear Abby College Columnist Scholarship Contest include:

  • Faiza Ahmed, Cornell University
  • Zachary Daria, Clemson University
  • Willow Hubsher, Cornell University
  • Diva Parekh, Johns Hopkins University
  • Sarah Shearer, University of Pittsburgh
  • Nathan L. Williams, Harvard University

Their strong voices, balanced arguments, original thinking and memorable imagery made this contest a surprisingly rewarding experience for me,” finalists judge Clarence Page said. “They showed me a lot about how today’s world looks to a generation that’s on the brink of taking charge of it.”

Preliminary judges who helped winnow the nearly 200 entries to a manageable number for Page were veteran journalists Samantha Bennett, Ben Pollock, Steve Hinnefeld, Russell Frank, Stu Bykofsky and Brian O’Connor.

The Dear Abby College Columnist Scholarship Program is an annual contest for college newspaper columnists provided by the NSNCEF and made possible through the generous support of Jeanne Phillips aka Dear Abby.

~Submitted by Mike Leonard, scholarship chair.

About National Society of Newspaper Columnists Education Foundation

Founded in 2003, the NSNCEF is a tax-exempt nonprofit foundation [501(c)3] devoted to the education and training of new and experienced columnists.

The core mission of the foundation is to foster training opportunities for columnists and others interested in column writing. The foundation works with the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and others to serve as a training tool for aspiring and published columnists in all media. It has a special emphasis on assisting college columnists.