photographer bios

emily speck is a Broadcast major with a film minor from Cleona, Pennsylvania. Photography is a newfound love for her and she plans to continue pursing photography within videography and taking photographs.  nickie vertigan is a Graphic Design major from Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Photography has always been a passion of hers and she has found many ways to …

o, california

miles de rosa emily speck Part I: As Antagonist  A few months ago, I got into an Uber in Pittsburgh, about four hours from where I now go to school in central Pennsylvania. The driver wore a Blue Lives Matter gaiter, pulled up above his nose. He had a short, thin layer of hair encircling …

unfinished letters following the unfortunate incident on the 31st

nala washington erik kirkland memorial prize winner emily speck To this Godforsaken holiday   The ancient origins of Halloween and its modern customs show it to be a celebration based on false beliefs. Growing up in the church, they had advised against all celebrations, Halloween being in the top three; they told us that God …

through broken eyes

emily hizny emily speck One morning in first grade I was asked “Why do you wear glasses?” “Because I can’t see without them?” This did not appear to satisfy my classmate’s query. “Are you near or farsighted?” “What do you mean?” “Like can you see things up close but not far away, or can you …

letter from the editors

emily speck Dear Reader, In light of trying times, we learn to work with the uncontrollable and unpredictable. Essay’s 2022 edition features the creative talents of Nala Washington, Lexi McDonald, Andrea Repetz, Miles DeRosa, Emily Hizny, and many more. This edition of Essay Magazine offers a sense of connection in spite of, or because of, …

semi sweet

andrea repetz emily speck  Four miles from the park, a sprawling cornfield was bordered by a roadside billboard.   “Welcome to Hershey: The Sweetest Place on Earth.”   A smiling chocolate bar greeted us with a wave as if each row of corn that followed was sown in fields of cocoa.  The advertisement campaign of my childhood …

coal dust

gabby grinaway emily speck As a kid, I grew up with summer visits to Central Pennsylvania. My uncle had a house in Kulpmont—a small, duplex town. There, the houses sat right on top of each other. Normally, when we visited, we would swim in his pool for hours, making forts out of pool rafts and …

holding steady

lexi mcdonald erik kirkland memorial prize finalist emily speck Four-years-old, I climb up the step stool in the pre-school restroom and stare into the mirror at myself. I love pigtails, and I even got to wear them with pink har ties today. Mom told me she would do them as long as I didn’t complain, …

on claiming to smoke in order to schedule a covid vaccination 

andrea repetz emily speck Today, I cast my registration in honor of Marlboro.  The single menthol I smoked while pretending I was not myself, sunburning at a music festival, grants me the authority to click continue on the Rite Aid website. That week, I drank Red Bull breakfasts, downed Dogfish Head dinners, smoked one cigarette, …