Sophomore Matt Bachman, a civil engineering major at Penn State Brandywine, found he has a talent he never imagined: writing. How did he find out? Associate Professor of Linguistics and English Myra Goldschmidt sent Bachman an e-mail announcing he was published in University Park's annual journal, Best of Freshman Writing, Volume 14.
"I was surprised but really happy when I got the e-mail," Bachman, of Newark, Del., said of his essay titled, "The United States' Failure to Sign the Rights of the Child" making the cut. "I always liked writing and I hear a lot of engineers struggle with it so we'll see how that works out for me."

On choosing such an important and serious topic, Bachman, an honors student, said he had never heard of the United Nations' treaty his essay was based on until he was asked to research it for a one-credit library studies course required for all honors students. When asked to write an essay for Goldschmidt's English course, Bachman decided to revisit the topic, not realizing so many people would find his thoughts so compelling.

"Matt Bachman is one of the strongest writers I have ever taught," Goldschmidt said. "I submitted his essay because of his sophisticated insight into an important global issue -- the rights of the child -- and because of his strong presentation of both sides of this issue. Through his writing, Matt serves as a role model to other students, raising awareness about the Rights of the Child [Treaty] and showing that one person can make a difference."
Each year, English professors from Penn State's 19 campuses are on the lookout for exceptional essays from their freshman English classes they deem worthy of publication. At the end of the academic year the best of the best are submitted to the journal's editorial board, which decides which essays will make it to publication. The journal is often used as a classroom textbook in many English classes at Penn State; the essays serve as writing models for students in the freshman courses.