Kishwaukee College names essay contests winner

2022 Paul Simon Student Essay Contest and Gandhi/King Peace Scholarship winner Perla Gonzalez

MALTA – Perla Gonzalez was recently selected as Kishwaukee College’s winner of the 2022 Paul Simon Student Essay Contest and Gandhi/King Peace Scholarship.

In the Paul Simon contest, Gonzalez wrote “How Kishwaukee College Changed My Life,” according to a news release. In the Gandhi/King contest, she outlined a plan for a nonviolent response to the problems of hate and discrimination inspired by the lives and writings of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Both essays were forwarded to the Illinois Community College Trustees Association for entry into the annual statewide competition.

Gonzalez also received two $500 Kish scholarships and was recognized at the April 12 Board of Trustees meeting.

In her essay on how Kishwaukee College changed her life, Gonzalez discussed the flexibility to attend online or in-person, the tight-knit community and the financial benefits of the college.

“When choosing my college, the biggest stressor was financial issues,” Gonzalez wrote. “Kishwaukee has been an enormous help when it comes to my financial situation. I have been in the financial office many times to discuss aid options. I am currently a debt-free student, which allows me to focus on my studies.”

Gonzalez, a Kirkland resident and graduate of Hiawatha High School, is pursuing an Associate in Science degree after recently being accepted into Kish’s nursing program. At Kishwaukee College, she is a member of the National Society of Leadership & Success, works in the Early Learning Center and was recently elected as an officer for the Student Government Association for the next school year.

For the Gandhi/King Peace Scholarship, Gonzalez advocated for an increase in understanding and diversity in her essay.

“I call to the education system to teach diversity. To teach children and young adults about neighboring countries, religions, races, cultures, sexualities, disabilities, and everything that makes us all unique. To understand, we must learn first and think about all sides of a situation,” she wrote.

Gonzalez said she was excited about the opportunity to outline a plan that addresses ways to combat hate and discrimination.

“Growing up with a diverse background and experiences, I have felt compelled to speak up on diversity and equal rights. This essay gave me the opportunity to address how changes can be made for the better, especially right now in our current climate,” Gonzalez said.

To read both of Gonzalez’s essays in their entirety, visit