A Hermitage woman, who was featured in The Herald as a second-grader who loved to write, is making her mark as a college senior.

Sonia Vallabh, 22, who attends Swarthmore College outside Philadelphia, won first prize last month in the William Plumer Potter Fiction Award contest. The award is given annually by the college English department.

For her efforts, Sonia won $500 and received some gratifying compliments from judge and author Alice Mattison, said Sonia’s mother, Kamni Vallabh.

According to Mrs. Vallabh, Sonia said the money was nice, but what she especially appreciated was Ms. Mattison telling her that her level of prose was outstanding.

Peter Schmidt, who chairs the English department, said of Sonia, “We’re very proud of her. She’s a great student.”

Winning writing awards isn’t new to Sonia.

Not only did she proclaim her love for writing in The Herald as an elementary school student, but she was featured again as a third-grader when she won second place for her poem “Sunrise” through a contest sponsored by the Hermitage Woman’s Club in 1993.

That same year, she won first place in the state competition of the General Federation of Women’s Club poetry and short story contest for her short story “Jack’s Journey.”

She went on to win an award in the “1996 Pictures At An Exhibition” writing contest sponsored by WYSU FM classical radio station in Youngstown.

Sonia also won second place last year in the William Plumer Potter Fiction Award contest at Swarthmore.

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