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Holly McAndrew wins Common Reading essay contest

ISSUED: 22 April 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University student Holly McAndrew, a business administration major from Hagerstown, Maryland, has been selected as the Common Reading student essay contest winner for the 2019-2020 school year. McAndrew’s essay, titled “Lessons Learned from ‘Concussion,’” focuses on ways in which college students can learn from the obstacles and challenges like those faced by Dr. Bennet Omalu, the subject of this year’s Common Reading book by Jeanne Marie Laskas. McAndrew won a $350 prize that she plans to apply toward her fall tuition.

“By reading ‘Concussions,’ I personally learned that all of my decisions, whether big or small, matter,” McAndrew said. “Dr. Omalu didn’t realize that all these small/big decisions to study these athletes’ brains would eventually lead to this giant discovery called CTE. In the same way, I learned that all of my decisions matter and they set the stage for my future. Don’t take these small steps lightly, and making the right decisions will keep me moving in the right direction.”

The contest was judged by a panel of three Shepherd faculty, Dr. Heidi Hanrahan, professor of English, Dr. Julia Sandy, associate professor for history, and Dr. Laura Robertson, associate professor of biology.

The 2020-2021 Common Reading book will be “Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time,” by Andrew Forsthoefel, marking the 14th anniversary of the Common Reading program. More information can be found at

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