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Student's Writing Talents Help Her to Succeed in School

Saturday, February 25, 2017 3:42 pm EST


How would you like to make $1,000 for an hour of work?

That is what happened to Johnson C. Smith University Senior, Marissa Duff, who spent 60 minutes writing an essay securing her $1,000 in the 2016 CIAA /Food Lion/Coca-Cola® Scholarship Contest.

"I heard about this scholarship since I was a freshman here at JCSU, but never really applied for it," Duff, said. "I remember talking to someone last year and they told me that there are scholarship opportunities, like the one provided by CIAA, but students are not applying for them."

Duff, 21, used her curiosity to get more information about the 2016 CIAA /Food Lion/Coca-Cola® Scholarship Contest.

"I knew I loved to write, and I decided to enter because it would help me to pursue my dance major here at the university," she said.

After researching the topic, which focused on the rising problem of security violence on campus, she spent about an hour writing her ideas.

"Coming from a smaller city like Greenwood, S.C., security wasn't a big issue," she said. "Everybody knows everybody. But moving to a larger city, like Charlotte, it opened my eyes to a lot of real world issues."

In her essay, Duff described an incident when she was in her dorm room, near one of the main streets, when all of a sudden she heard a gunshot. She said she was confused, not knowing if the gunshot came from outside or inside campus gates. Later, she learned it was an on campus incident from someone who did not live on campus. 

After the incident, she explored ideas about tightening security on campus so visitors were vetted more closely. The essay judges loved her ideas and awarded her the $1,000 scholarship. She found out she was a winner via email.

"It first went to my spam inbox, and the notification asked me to complete one more section of the application," she said.

It wasn't long after that they notified her that she was a winner.

Duff said she would recommend the essay contest to anyone who attends a CIAA school.

"I would like to tell Food Lion and Coke 'thank you' so much this amazing opportunity," she said. "It truly helps in the lives of students who are pursuing degrees and careers and something that I will remember for the rest of my life."


Benny Smith: 704-310-4077 or

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