Reading in Tamagawa Garden

Maria Driesen

Maria Driesen, Essay Contest Winner in the First-Year Category for English 135, 2021-2022

Maria Driesen

Maria Driesen is pursuing a degree in Child and Youth Care here at VIU, and although she claims that she “won this award on a whim”, she does acknowledge that it was her strong passion and interest in the experiences of others, specifically transgender people, that drove her to write this essay and consider in depth how trans peoples’ experiences are represented in literature.

Maria’s winning essay, Holistic Representation in Casey Plett’s ‘Hazel and Christopher,” was inspired by Maria’s sense that trans people are not justly represented.  She spent a lot of time thinking about the spaces that trans people occupy and her essay impressed Professor Mike Roberson who describes Maria’s work on this text as “showing great initiative and sensitivity” as well as “finesse.”

When asked what advice she can give to other students, Maria says that it’s really important to write essays on topics that you’re truly interested in because “You’re not going to write a good essay if you don’t care about the topic”.  You don’t have to be a “scholarly genius” to write a good essay, she says, “just a really passionate regular student”, which is how she sees herself.  

Her ongoing love of reading and some recent positive experiences in the English courses she was required to take for her program have sparked her recent interest in literature, but she has always enjoyed reading for pleasure.  Some of her all-time favourite books are Looking for Alaska by John Green, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and The Carry On series by Rainbow Rowell.