In its first year, the 2007 Family Travel Forum Teen Travel Writing Scholarship Contest received more than 5,000 submissions. Although excited about the strong turnout of applicants, the judging staff was also nervous; how were they going to handle this influx of submissions?
It was a tough undertaking and selecting finalists from such an excellent body of work required a process of elimination. From May to September of 2007, FTF interns and editors screened essays, searching for ones that could potentially be a quarter-finalist. At this stage, more than half of the entries were eliminated.
FTF’s intern team consisted of four talented students. Ben Minkoff and Sam Bienenfeld, two high school students living in New York City, attending Hunter College High School and Beacon High School, respectively. Sandy Ng, from Brooklyn, attends Pace University in Pleasantville, New York, where she studies Communications and Art. Jennifer Moore, who has lived in California, Ireland and Oklahoma was a senior at Sarah Lawrence College studying writing during the judging time and is currently a frequent TravelBIGO.com contributor.
Guiding the intern staff in the screening process were three FTF editors. Caitlin O’Connell, a student at New York University, is the former Editorial Assistant at FTF who just recently returned from a semester abroad in Spain.
Co-Associate Editors Susan Finch and Jillian Ryan, both reside in Brooklyn, New York. Susan is a former film and video editor, who has had the travel bug since her childhood in Atlanta, Georgia, where her father was a commercial airline pilot. Jillian, a recent graduate of Adelphi University, spent her last summer in college studying and living in Florence, Italy where she realized her passion for travel writing.
Once past the following staffers, the other essays were then passed on to a team of five judges (professional writers, editors, and teens studying writing) who looked for originality, eloquence and the sense of place found in all successful travel writing.
Kyle McCarthy is the Editor-in-Chief and a founding partner of FTF who enjoys family vacations in the most unlikely places. Senior Editor, Fran Falkin, has seen travel from every perspective: as the wife of a Travel Agent and mother to an energetic and inquisitive teenager. An author of five guidebooks, Laura Sutherland is a Contributing Editor to the site who resides in Santa Cruz, California. Our teen/peer judges were Madeleine Linares, a freshman English Major at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and Conor Armor, a sophomore at Santa Cruz High School in Santa Cruz, California.
After these judges chose their finalists, they turned to Writers Guild of America Lifetime Achievement Award-winner Marshall Brickman to make the final selection. For his authorship of classic entertainment ranging from the Dick Cavett Show to “Sleeper,” “Annie Hall,” “Manhattan” and the Tony-winning musical “Jersey Boys,” Mr. Brickman – also the father of two writers – has received an Academy Award, a British Academy Award and two Emmys.
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