Winners announced in Auburn University’s Spring Common Book writing contest

Common book winnersAUBURN – A challenge went out in early spring of this year for all undergraduate students at Auburn University to participate in a writing contest based on the 2010-11 Common Book, “Three Cups of Tea.” Contest winners were recently announced at a dinner hosted by Auburn University President Jay Gogue and Mrs. Susie Gogue.

The first place winner of the competition was Alicia Berdeguez for her submission in the form of a poem. Berdeguez is a freshman from Port Orange, Fla., majoring in creative writing. As part of her first place prize, she had the opportunity to shadow Auburn University Provost Mary Ellen Mazey and get a sense of the responsibilities the provost’s position entails.

Jennifer Robinson won second place for an essay about the theme of success in “Three Cups of Tea.” Robinson is a sophomore from Deatsville, Ala., majoring in English and Spanish. She shadowed Mazey during the recent Auburn University Board of Trustees meeting.

Eric Lopez won third place for a submission that tied the themes of the book to issues of foreign relations. Lopez is a senior from Peachtree City, Ga., majoring in political science. He shadowed the university’s director of athletics Jay Jacobs.

In addition to having the opportunity to shadow someone in a leadership position at the university, each winner received a gift card from the University Bookstore.

For the Spring Common Book competition, the call was for written documents of all types – creative or academic, narrative or research based – that grew out of or responded to the common book selection. Students could base their work on having used the book in a class, read it on their own or attended events related to the Common Book program. They were not required to make specific references to the book in their submissions, but they did have to make it clear to readers how the book or its themes inspired their writing.

The Common Book program, which is used in more than 100 universities across the country, was developed to promote a shared academic experience among students, especially incoming freshmen.

In fall of 2010, Auburn University began its Auburn Connects! The Common Book Program with the reading of “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

For more information about Auburn Connects! The Common Book Program, go to

(Written by Neali Vann.)

Contact: Margaret Marshall, (334) 844-7474 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (