Announcing the Winner of the 2018 Crossword Scholarship!

crossword hobbyist crossword scholarship winner

We would like to congratulate everyone who applied to the BrightSprout Crossword Scholarship in its first year (formerly Crossword Hobbyist). With an outpouring of clever, personal, and well-crafted crossword puzzles, we knew this would be a hard selection. We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2018 crossword scholarship!

In the end, our scholarship committee had to consider each and every clue and answer to make a decision. While we could only award one scholarship, we felt it fitting to give mention to those who also made excellent puzzles. We loved learning more about the interests and aspirations of our applicants.

Without further ado, we present to you the 2018 Crossword Scholarship winner, finalists, and semi-finalists. We highly encourage you to solve each of their crossword puzzles.

Winner – Eleanor Miranda, “Toon Time

Eleanor Miranda is a senior at Westhampton Beach High School. She is enrolled at St. John’s University for the fall semester, and she plans to major in illustration.

In her spare time, she likes watching anime, designing games, and doing crossword puzzles with her family. Her winning puzzle reflects her love of anime. She started her drawing career by creating fan art of her favorite anime shows. Then, she moved on to creating her own characters and stories. Because anime has been such a big part of her life, she incorporated it into her crossword puzzle.

To learn more about Eleanor and solve her winning puzzle, visit our interview with her.


Alexandra Tran, “On the Beat: Literature’s Iconoclasts
Alexandra is a native to the San Francisco Bay Area, and studies computer science at UC Berkeley. She has a passion for all sorts of things including music, literature, philosophy, logic, computers. She’s only recently encountered the crossword community, but as a longtime lover of word games and combination puzzles, she’s become addicted. A middle child among three girls, Alexandra comes from a tight-knit Vietnamese immigrant family.

Jacob Barberena, “Halloween
Jacob has been accepted to the University of Texas at El Paso in his home state. He is one of the first members of his family born as a U.S. citizen, and he plans to be the first to get a Bachelor’s degree as well. He plans to study computer science in college.

Madalyn Freedman, “All You Need Is…
A sailor, traveler, artist, and reader, Madalyn is studying Art at the University of Hawaii. In between studying and working on illustrations, crossword puzzles are her favorite leisure activity. Waking up early every morning gives her plenty of time to slowly drink coffee and solve puzzles before riding her bicycle to school. She hopes to study Art Therapy in graduate school. View her art at her website.

Samantha Gajda, “Music
A student-athlete who plays both field hockey and lacrosse, Samantha plans to continue both sports at Stevens Institute of Technology in the fall. She plans to study biomedical engineering because of her interest in math and science and her desire to help people. Her puzzle was inspired by the major impact music has had on her life.


Bryan Harkins, “See Spot Work
Olivia Dayberry, “Word Scribbler
Megan Callans, “American History 3
Valerie Connor, “Nursery Rhymes
Nautia Smith, “High School Hope
Axel Webber, “Functionality
Matthew Hoobin, “Cinema Potpourri
Hope Beckloff, “Bible Bonanza

Thank you to all of our applicants and to those who shared our crossword scholarship with others for making this a wonderful inaugural year. Congratulations again to our 2018 crossword scholarship winner, Eleanor Miranda! We look forward to solving more puzzles next year!

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