Grinnell College senior and winner of the Nick Adams Short Story Contest, Nelson Ogbuagu Nelson Ogbuagu ’16 has been named the winner of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest 2016 Nick Adams Short Story Contest. His story, "Playing it Safe," was selected from the 32 stories submitted by students from ACM colleges.

Author Bill Hillman, who served as the final judge for the contest, awarded first prize to Ogbuagu, praising his story as “a psychological thriller and a coming of age tale of an introspective and sensitive youth” that “works on a lot of levels.”

A Chicago native, Ogbuagu is an economics major. His interest in writing, inspired by his love for hip-hop music and storytelling, started in high school, where he served as both an arts and entertainment and a sports editor.

He began to write short stories in a creative writing course he took at Grinnell with author Dean Bakopoulos, assistant professor of English.

“His mentorship, teaching, feedback, and general support as I developed in his classes and outside of them not only made me a better storyteller through writing, but also encouraged a type of self-exploration that made me believe that I had meaningful stories to tell,” Ogbuagu said.

These workshop-based courses require students to read each other’s work and give extensive critiques in class discussions. “After all of that feedback, we’d go and make a revision that was very deep, very heavy,” said Ogbuagu. “You really get a very sharp sense as to the different ideas that different types of writers have for the directions you can go with a story. It really informed how I could take a certain experience and craft it in a way that I hadn't originally considered.”

In addition to writing, Ogbuagu serves as co-chair of the All Campus Events Committee of the Student Government Association and co-leads the Latin American Dance club. This fall, he will join LinkedIn’s Business Leadership Program for global sales in San Francisco. He plans to continue writing and eventually pursue a master’s degree in fine arts.  

Grace Lloyd ’16, a senior from Allentown, New Jersey, was awarded honorable mention for her story "Crush." She is an English and theatre major with a concentration in technology studies. She is currently writing a novella with the mentorship of Bakopoulos and plans to continue writing after graduation.

The Nick Adams Short Story Contest has been held annually since 1973 by the ACM. Winners receive $1,000, made possible by a gift from an anonymous donor.

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