William AllenHigh School

Senior Anna Tjeltveit Wins Prestigious Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity

Senior Anna Tjeltveit Wins Prestigious Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity
Posted on 05/16/2019

Wesleyan University has awarded its prestigious Hamilton Prize for Creativity to Anna Tjeltveit, a senior at William Allen High School, who resides in Allentown.  Tjeltveit will join Wesleyan’s Class of 2023 in the fall, and will receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend the University.

Tjeltveit was honored for her one-act play titled “Five Steps.”  It tells a humorous modern-day story of Hades, the god of death, who seeks out help from a life coach, Persephone (“emphasis on the fun!”), when he finds his job of torturing humans becomes stale and joyless. Persephone presents him with a five-step process guaranteed to bring happiness, beginning with positive mantras and daily green smoothies. Ultimately, Hades realizes that a one-size-fits-all approach to happiness is worse torture than any punishment he could create.

“It’s not surprising that Lin-Manuel Miranda adored this mash-up of classical characters in a contemporary comedic situation,” said Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth. “Anna’s witty play is fun and sophisticated, showing her great promise as a creative writer. We can hardly wait to see what she does at Wesleyan.”

“Five Steps” was chosen from a pool of over 400 submissions this year. Wesleyan faculty members reviewed entries, while an all-star Selection Committee of Wesleyan alumni in the arts, chaired by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 and Thomas Kail ’99, judged finalists based on their originality, artistry, and dynamism. Bios for all the committee members can be found here.

“What a joy it is to serve alongside this distinguished group of fellow alumni, and get a glimpse at the next generation of creative minds,” said Kail. “It’s an honor to help these artists get their start at Wesleyan, as we all did.”

In addition to Tjeltveit’s grand prize, Wesleyan awarded two honorary mentions along with $5,000 stipends.

“Every year, my hope in the future of the arts is renewed by reading the stories, poems, screenplays and other works submitted by these young people,” said Miranda. “I am delighted to recognize these three exceptionally talented writers, and look forward to seeing them continue to hone their craft at Wesleyan.”

The Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity was established in 2016 in honor of Miranda and Kail’s contributions to liberal education and the arts and named for the pair’s hit Broadway musical, which that year won 11 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Book, and Best Original Score. Over the past two years, more than a thousand students have submitted stories, poetry, songs, plays, and screenplays for consideration for the prize. Read about past winners here and here.

Learn more about the Hamilton Prize here.