ESCC Announces Poetry and Art Winners


Your Eastern Shore Community College is pleased to announce the winners of its inaugural Virginia Community College System Poetry & Visual Arts Competition.

Participating students submitted original poetry and visual art works during February and March interpreting the theme “I belong.”  The program aimed to foster a sense of community and belonging at ESCC and across the Virginia Community College System (VCCS).  Twenty of the 23 colleges in the VCCS participated in this first year of the Poetry & Arts Competition, which was supported by the VCCS Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Culture.

For the poetry competition, two community judges (Ann Marie Brown and Pedro Gonzalez) judged the final round of poetry selections and assessed the applicants’ performative readings of their themed poems.  Ryshekia Allen was chosen as the winner with her poem, “Don’t Fall”.

Poetry winner Ryshekia Allen with ESCC President Dr. Jim Shaeffer

On the visual arts side, Dr. Julie Nash has announced that our ESCC winner is Jade Saldana with her entry entitled “The Loneliest Girl in the World”.  Jade was the ESCC featured student digital artist at last month’s ESCC Art Walk. Dr. Nash commented that “Jade’s digital art is one of a kind and the perfect example of everyone belonging.” 

Jade Saldana’s winning digital art entitled “The Loneliest Girl in the World”

ESCC President Dr. Jim Shaeffer elaborated that “our pride is brimming with the talent exhibited by our participating students, and the way they grasped and embraced the theme of “I belong”. We’re extremely excited for our two winners.”

Ryshekia Allen also won a spot to compete for statewide honors.  College poetry winners from across Virginia will participate in a live performance of their original theme-related poems at the Dickinson Fine and Performing Arts Center at Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville on April 6, and a chance to be named “Poet Laureate” of Virginia’s Community Colleges.  A panel of distinguished judges will determine the winner of the competition based on the individual’s original poetry, a private interview, and the Saturday performance.  

You can learn more about the April 6 event and register for free tickets here.

Select works of visual art from participating colleges also will be on display at PVCC on April 6 and at the Virginia Community College System’s New Horizons systemwide conference in Roanoke the following week. 

“The work of our students is wonderful,” said VCCS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Carla Kimbrough. “I’m so grateful to college coordinators who organized the competitions at their colleges, and the judges at the college level who helped us find true gems of creativity in this inaugural event. We are so excited to showcase the message of belonging from our talented poets and visual artists from so many of our colleges at our April 6 event.” 

 With the support of Virginia’s Humanities, the winners from all 20 participating colleges will have their poetry and visual arts featured in a book to be published this summer. The Virginia Humanities grant also supported professional development for the college poet laureates and top visual artists.