Gerald J. Alred Professional Writing Challenge Award (Flex App)


According to an update provided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on October 16, 2023, “In 2022, more than 50 million workers quit their jobs, following the 47.8 million who did so in 2021. In 2023, this trend has gradually subsided, with 30.5 million workers resigning as of August” ( Many people were searching for an improved work-life balance and flexibility, more company benefits, and more opportunities for growth within a company, among other things. Across almost all industries, there are currently more job openings than workers willing to fill the positions, especially if the jobs do not include an opportunity for some remote workdays.

What has been called “The Great Resignation,” as well as “The Great Reshuffle,” has led to staffing shortages and caused employees to work longer hours, experience stress and burnout, and increased dissatisfaction with their positions.

You are Alex Wentworth, a full-time student and part-time employee at Midwest Medical Direct. Your position as Assistant Manager for the Intake Department requires that you fill orders by healthcare providers for home-bound patients and their caregivers. Recently, you received a complaint from Cole Winslow about a delay in receiving assistive devices, including a CPAP machine, for their elderly and disabled father. You know that timely delivery of this equipment is essential for safety and independent living. You investigate the delay with the order and realize that it had not been placed by a new employee that was hired short term to address your company’s staffing shortage. You quickly complete the paperwork needed to process the order but learn that there will be a three-week delay in shipping the order, as the company that manufactures the equipment is also short-staffed. An increase in negative reviews online has put pressure on your company to retain and attract customers.

Based on the principles that you have learned about how to address a problem in a professional context, write a letter to Cole Winslow to carefully explain the delay in their order and to provide alternatives (if available), until they receive their shipment. Demonstrate goodwill and understanding.

You should create letterhead for Midwest Medical Direct that includes a mailing address, telephone number, and website address.

Address the letter to:
Cole Winslow
1923 E. Park Place
Milwaukee, WI 53211

Please ensure that you include your anonymous number at the top right corner of your entry. Sign the letter as Alex Wentworth. Do not include your real name anywhere on the document.

This award competition is by invitation only. Students who are enrolled in English 205, 206, and 207 as part of the UWM Milwaukee campus bachelor’s degree program are nominated by their instructor based on their demonstrated professional writing skills. Associate degree students and Flex program students are not eligible for this competition.

Nominees are selected to compete for a $500 prize! Winners will be selected by a panel of judges including UWM faculty and instructors and professional writers in the community representing various industries and media outlets. All entries will be reviewed anonymously and the judges will not know your name until the final selection is made. The first-place winner will receive $500 for the semester following their enrollment in English 205, 206, or 207 and therefore must be enrolled for at least one more semester in order to receive the scholarship. A second and third place winner will also be named but there is no monetary scholarship.

All participants will receive a certificate of participation and will be invited to an annual ceremony held in February.

This competition is held twice a year on the Fall UWM Study Day and the Spring UWM Study Day. Selected students who are enrolled in English 205, 206, and 207 during summer or fall 2023 will compete on December 15, 2023. Selected students who are enrolled in English 205, 206, and 207 during spring 2024 will compete on May 10, 2024. Your entry will need to address a specific business case that will be posted here at 10:00 am on the day of the competition. Please refresh your browser to see that case at that time along with the button to submit your entry. You will have two hours to upload your entry.

If you have technical difficulties uploading your entry, contact right away.

Multiple Donors
$500 for first place
Schools, Colleges, Departments, and Areas
English Department, College of Letters and Science, UWM Foundation Scholarships