It was freezing in Emporia, Kansas – midway between Wichita and Kansas City, a great case study for the winters for which the Midwest is known - as President Obama, many miles away, took his ceremonial walk through the U.S. Capitol and began his first State of the Union address. But heat was in evidence all over the campus at Emporia State University  as students logged onto Twitter to listen, comment and discuss the president's comments and the GOP response – viewed from the prism of the federal budget deficit and national debt.
The live chat (click here  to take a look at the students' comments), moderated by Public Agenda on behalf of @FacingUp , was nonpartisan and devoid of political name-calling, with passion instead attaching itself to the issues: the size of the deficit and debt, the politicians' and students' own proposals, and the degree to which each might help the nation get on a more solid fiscal footing.
Emporia's economics students, led by Professor Rob Catlett , have been studying the problem as participants in the Students Face Up to the Nation's Finances  nonpartisan curriculum  on the nation's fiscal future. We're pleased to announce that three of them are among the winners of the final round of the Facing Up  contest for essays relating to the deficit and debt crisis and what should be done about it.
And here's the official winner list:
Best Multimedia Essay By A College Student
"It's Up To Us"  by Kelsey Ryan, Shane Wilson, & Kellen Jenkins of Emporia State (colleagues at The Bulletin, ESU's award-winning newspaper, seen here  together celebrating a job well-done)
Best Written Essay By A College Student
"Means-Testing Social Security"  by Zachary Skaggs of American University, in Washington, D.C. (an enthusiastic student of economics, currently prepping for med school, with an understandable strong interest in health care reform and cost control, among other things )
Congratulations to all! And thanks to everyone who entered – the discussion  is one of the most important parts of our Students Face Up program  (available free of charge thanks to a grant from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation ) to help students and other concerned citizens get involved in making choices to build a better future.
Each prize is worth $500 (ESU's winners will have to split their prize three ways). But that's not the only take-away for our winners, who plan to continue raising the consciousness of other Americans on this issue, especially those in their own generation, who have a lot at stake as the national debt clock  zooms forward.