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Student Wins $15K in Essay Contest and He Owes It All to Shakespeare

Peter Enzminger ’08 recently won $15,000 for an essay warning about the perils of overspending. But Enzminger himself remains indebted – to Shakespeare. Enzminger wrote his grand-prize winning entry for the Citi/Scholastic National Essay Contest in a distinctly Shakespearian style, with lots of apostrophes, archaic words and inverted subjects and verbs.

The contest drew on a passage from “The Merchant of Venice” in which Bassanio asks for a loan of 3,000 ducats to travel to Belmont to court Portia. Students were asked to bring the issue into 2004, offering financial advice to Bassanio, who needs the money for his freshman year at Belmont University. Enzminger started off writing in a modern style, but he found hacking out financial pointers was too dull. So decided to roughly follow Shakespeare’s style, using 8-10 syllables per line, and the words flowed like the River Thames.

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