Wachtel Literary Awards for 2020 - winner :

[Gabriel Gelkepicture]

Brendan Reynolds


Brendan Reynolds

I have been involved with the Polish Heritage Society of Rochester for many years. When I was twelve years old, I started assisting my grandfather at the St. Stanislaus Polish Festival demonstrating pisanki. I learned to melt the bees wax in a stylus, then carefully draw the design on a hollow egg. Although it took practice, over time I started to get the hang of it. My eggs will never match my grandfather's, but I have enjoyed participating in the festival every year and continuing this Polish tradition. I have been involved with school activities as well. I am currently a member of the National Honor Society and help with many volunteer projects for my school. Also, I was part of a team that went to Houston Texas to present a project that we created for a NASA science competition -- a tool pouch for the International Space Station.

In June of this year I will be graduating from high school and will be attending Binghamton University in September, majoring in biomedical engineering and minoring in business. I am very excited to meet new people and to continue learning. I hope to become a peer mentor there and help other students as well.

I have always lived with the motto that if you are going to do something, you better be the best. So, I plan on being the best wherever life takes me. I will surely keep in touch and send you life updates along the way! I will also make sure to carry on the Pisanki tradition and teach others the art of egg decorating.

My long-term goals include moving to California for graduate school and getting a masters degree in biomedical Engineering. With this degree I hope to work in a biotech company developing new medicines or medical devices for people in need. I have chosen California for two reasons: first because I am in love with its warm weather. Second, because I have family in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Merced. Every visit there gave me the dream to eventually move and live there.

Brendan's essay: Krakow, Poland is posted here. (go to essay text)


Polish Heritage Society, Rochester, NY - Literary Competition (see information page)


History: The Literary Awards (formerly Competition) was established in 1995 by Estelle Wachtel-Torres MD (see bio) in memory of her father, Stanley Zenon Wachtel. (read his complete biography) Mr. Wachtel was a pioneer of Chicago's Polish Theatre. In Detroit, he became the long-time producer of the Polish Language Radio Program on WJLB, WEXL and WNBC. Plus, he was a lead writer as well as an announcer on Polish radio. Gertrude Wachtel, his spouse, was also active in the theatre and looked after the finances of the programs.

Purpose: The Literary Awards (Competition) was established to foster the endeavors of Polish American Youth in the fields of journalism and/or literature. In order to be considered for an award, the age criteria is from junior high school until the age of 30 (in case of an individual studying for a doctorate or master's degree). The American Council for Polish Culture will match the first prize awards up to $750.00 per affiliate on an annual basis.

Criteria: For a matching award an affiliate or supporting organization must notify the Literary Awards Chair with the following information.

    1. A notification of the date of the competition.
    2. Rules of its competition.
    3. The size of the award.
    4. The winner's name and any other requested data must be forwarded after the judging.
    5. Forward a copy of the winning entry plus a photo of the 1st place recipient to the Literary Awards Chair via an e-mail attachment to:
      Carolyn L. Meleski clmele@comcast.net