Elk grad, peace essay winner studies PTSD at science center

Elk River High School graduate Alexandra Alcorn, class of 2008, will be the guest speaker at the 19th annual Peace Essay Awards Ceremony (renamed the Chase Korte Peace Essay Awards in 2007 to honor the memory of Chase Korte) Friday, March 15, at 9:30 a.m. in the Zabee Theater. The award ceremony is open to the public.

In 2007, Alcorn won the local level of competition of the National Peace Essay Contest sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).

Alcorn graduated from the University of Minnesota in August of 2012 with a double major in Spanish and biology. During the course of her studies, she studied abroad in Seville, Spain, during the spring of 2011. While there she studied Spanish art history, Hispanic-American literature and ocean geography at the University of Seville, as well as courses on the religious history of Spain and Spanish language and grammar at her study abroad institution.

She currently works for the Brain Sciences Center, a U of M department, as a health sciences research specialist at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, where she is part of a team researching post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury in veterans, as well as Gulf War syndrome.

Alcorn also volunteers as a sexual assault counselor with The Aurora Center, another department at the U of M.

The competition and awards ceremony involves members of ERHS faculty and the community: Denise Eidem, the English  instructor who assigns the USIP’s Peace Essay in the AP English language and composition course.

Tom Fuller and Mabel Schultz who instigated ERHS student participation in the contest in 1995.

Stewart Wilson, the Executive Vice-President of the Bank of Elk River, which awards a $500 scholarships annually to the local student winner of the contest.

The Bank of Elk River has been the local sponsor of this competition for all 19 years that Elk River students have entered.

Pat and Linda Korte, parents of Chase Korte, who award an annual $500 Chase Korte Peace Essay Scholarship to honor the memory of their son Chase, in addition to a $300 and $200 scholarship for the second and third place winners of the contest.

Chase Korte was killed by a drunk driver in 2007. He was a talented 2001 graduate of ERHS and was the local first place winner of the Peace Essay contest in 2000.  At the time of his death, Chase was working on the conclusion of a film project called The Peace Walker, and he was also a passionate supporter of the humanitarian organization World Vision. He lived a life that his family believed embodied the spirit of altruism that characterizes the purpose of the Peace Essay contest.

Students entering this year’s Peace Essay competition have researched and submitted essay responses to the question: “What does it mean to have a gendered approach to war and peace issues?”