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Introducing the Winners of the Medium Writers Challenge

  • 8 min read

Who won, why, and where you can read their outstanding essays

It’s been a long wait for the results of the Medium Writers Challenge.

Yesterday, Medium announced the winners via Twitter and their official blog.

screenshot by Kristina God

So, ladies and gentlemen, in case you missed it (because you didn’t have a clue about the final announcement although you read my last minute post) here are the official finalists and Grand Prize winners of the competition.

Introducing the four prompt winners

Prompt #Mwc Space

The winner in this category is journalist Meera Vijayann with her story ‘The Space Between My Fingers’🥳.

screenshot by Kristina God

Who is Meera Vijayann (according to Wikipedia)?

screenshot by Kristina God
  • She is a journalist covering gender-based violence and social entrepreneurship.
  • In 2013, she won the CNN-IBN Citizen Journalism Award for her reporting of the protest that followed the Delhi Gang Rape.
  • She holds the position of communications manager and co-coordinator at Ashoka, Arlington, Virginia and youth ambassador for India with Youth to End Social Violence in Conflict.
  • Meera used digital media in creative ways to empower, aware and educate young people about the issues of sexual violence.
  • Her articles and blog posts have appeared in media outlets including Forbes, The Guardian, The Deccan Herald, The Huffington Post, CNN, IBN LIVE, Open Democracy and The New Indian Express.

What does she write about?

Health, Culture, Womanhood, Sexual Violence

Why did she win the $10K?

  • Meera’s work digs into immigration, as it was ruled she was unable to legally relocate from India to Canada with her family.
  • She found a connection to her mother through food, pooris and potatoes, in particular.
  • Faced with a long separation, the meals her mother taught her how to cook provided comfort that she needed.

Acceptance speech on Twitter:

I can’t believe this just happened! Thank you so much @medium judges and my fellow prompt winners. It’s a piece that’s close to my heart and I’m so thrilled it was chosen! Twitter

Here you can read her story ‘The Space Between My Fingers’.

Prompt #Mwc Re-Entry

The winner in this category is Sarah Hawthorne with her story ‘The Hope That Holds You Back’🥳

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Who is Sarah Hawthorne?

screenshot by Kristina God

A perpetual student of stories and how we share them. I love all things wild, weird, and beautiful

  • She suffers from the rare disease called ‘Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.’

What does she write about?

Disability, Accessibility, Mental Health

Why did she win the $10K?

  • Her entry is a great read about a writer’s fight for independence and hopefully inspires those who are disabled to find the joy in life as you are versus the utopian cured state that may not come.

Acceptance speech on Twitter:

Thank you so much for the honor and all the kind wishes. I’m feeling really overwhelmed right now, but also VERY happy. Twitter

Here you can read her story:

Prompt #Mwc Death

With over 3,500 entries, Death was the dominant prompt.

The winner in this category is new writer Randi Ragan with her essay ‘Keeper of the Place’🥳.

screenshot by Kristina God

Who is the new writer Randi Ragan (according to her business side)?

screenshot by Kristina God
  • Lives in Los Angeles, originally from Texas.
  • Randi is author of the book, “A Year of Living Mindfully
  • Founder/Owner of the award-winning GreenBliss EcoSpa
  • Randi has spent 20 years in the wellbeing sector.
  • She has been a yoga and meditation teacher, wellness retreat leader, and creator of customized healing experiences.
  • She is an inspirational speaker
  • Her teaching and workshops have been featured at Los Angeles’ top yoga studios
  • She has counseled industry leaders from the worlds of entertainment, finance, and business about healthy wellbeing and mindful living.

What does she write about?

Health, Mindfulness, Mental Health, Life

Why did she win $10K?

  • Her opening paragraph is chilling.
  • “The imagery is so vivid and unique as are the characters throughout,” says Medium staff judge Amy Shearn
  • “The different layers of the piece give it serious narrative heft. And the way it’s structured is a master class.”

Acceptance speech on Twitter:

Could not be more gobsmacked and grateful!🤯🙏 Thank you Medium judges 🥰

Here you can read her story ‘Keeper Of The Place’.

Prompt #Mwc Work

The lucky winner of this category is longtime Medium writer Hal H. Harris. His story ‘Black Personhood Does Not Have Equitable Access to the Work of Homeownership’🥳 was chosen.

screenshot by Kristina God

Who is Hal H. Harris (according to his blog)?

screenshot by Kristina God

I write to explore Black personhood, the life we have built in the shadow of full citizenship.

  • Based out of Little Rock where he lives a mildly middle-class life his my wife and son.
  • Born and raised in New York City
  • He earned his BA from the City University of New York–the College of Staten Island and his Master’s in Educational Leadership from the University of Arkansas.

I’ve blogged since Xanga and MySpace was popular, and hope to make it from the small-time to the medium-time.

What does he write about?

Black personhood, the lives Black folk have built in the shadow of white supremacy, #blacklivesmatter

Why did Hal win $10K?

  • The piece is as much a history lesson as it is an exploration of the pain of DIY projects.
  • “Hal’s essay is compositionally one of the most interesting, thoughtful, and unique of the entire competition,” says staff judge John Kennedy
  • .“He uses his family history to tell a broader story of dual Black American experiences, and brings it all together with a warm, accessible anecdote about home maintenance.”

Acceptance speech on Twitter:

I would not of been able to win the #MediumWritersChallenge without the work and genius of @nhannahjones and her 1619 Project crew. Twitter

Here you can read his story.

The Grand Prize winner

Drum roll…. 🥁🥁🥁

the Grand Prize of $50K went to… Randi Ragan

screenshot by Kristina God

Heartfelt congrats to the winners🤩 🥳!

Final Thoughts

screenshot Kristina God

Jermaine Hall, VP, Content at Medium, announced the winners in a blog post and said…

(the) 9,000-plus stories were incredibly transparent; the vulnerability on display made for hours of satisfying reading.

Judge Kurt Andersen stated…

I don’t think I’ve ever been involved in a judging process where all the judges read all the work, or where the best work was so unequivocally the best.

After the announcement is before the announcement…

the honorable mention winners will be announced this Friday, October 15 🥳 The Top 100 honorable mention selections will each win $100!

I keep my fingers crossed for all of you!

👍Be sure to follow Medium via Twitter and their official blog for the announcement of the winners.

© Kristina God

Kristina God is 11x Top Writer and one of Medium’s Top 2,000 Writers. 4x she received the Medium bonus. She loves to share her Medium 101’s, hacks as well as tips and tricks.

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