MARLBORO -- Marlboro College announced the winners of its Beautiful Minds Challenge, a contest for curious and creative high school students that drew 84 submissions from 13 states and South Korea. The top three entries will receive cash prizes, and 26 finalists will enjoy an all-expense-paid trip to a student symposium at Marlboro College in April.

"The high-school journey is one of self-growth, self-discovery, and revelation," said Erica Schneider of Brick, N.J., the first-place winner in Marlboro’s Beautiful Minds Challenge.

In response to the prompt, "Take a road less traveled. Make something that shares your journey," Schneider drew a self-portrait that depicted half of her as she was in ninth grade and the other half as she is today, accompanied by an eloquent essay about her process of self-discovery.

"Although I’ve moved on from my ninth-grade self, it’s still a part of me, and so, the two sides of my portrait are equal in size and detail," she wrote.

Now in its second year, the contest was designed to attract students who think broadly and creatively across disciplines, one of the hallmarks of Marlboro, an intentionally small, intellectually demanding liberal arts college located in southern Vermont. Students from as far away as California, Hawaii, and even South Korea responded to the contest with essays, artwork, videos, and audio recordings demonstrating an impressive range of creative expression.

"We were delighted by the range of responses this year, which came from teens in public high schools, private schools, technical schools, and home schooling situations," said Ariel Brooks, director of non-degree programs at Marlboro.

The three prize winners and 23 other finalists will get a first-hand experience of just what that means at the Beautiful Minds Symposium at Marlboro College, April 2 through 5. They will join current Marlboro students and faculty members to share ideas, learn about creative process and problem solving through group activities, and get a taste of college residential life and coursework.

Learn more about the Beautiful Minds Challenge at, or view all of the winning submissions at