2021 John Sexton Essay Contest
James Traub (Chair)
Senior Fellow at NYU Center on International Cooperation; Columnist at foreignpolicy.com
United Nations & New York Program Director,
Burma Task Force
Uncommon Collegiate Charter
Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Law@theMargins; Associate Professor of Law,
CUNY School of Law
Founder & CEO,
Princeton Alpha Management LP
Director of High School Programs,
Charter High School
Faisal Saeed Al Mutar
Founder & President of Ideas Beyond Borders;
Human Rights Lawyer; 2016 International Woman of Courage Award
Founder & President,
Asian University for Women
Founder & Editor-in-chief,
Teach for America's One Day Magazine
CEO & Founder, Sentia Education
Mohd Aminul Karim
Author of Genocide and Geopolitics of the Rohingya Crisis; Lt. Gen. (Ret.) of Bangladesh Army
Nandana Dev Sen
Author of Acrobat; International Actress
The John Sexton Scholars Program invited all currently enrolled New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut high school students to participate in the 2021 John Sexton Essay Contest. The competition challenged students to write an original and creative essay for the following prompt:
Identify and elaborate on one or more lessons that we have learned from historical genocides or mass persecutions. Can these lessons be applied to the Rohingya Refugee Crisis?
Rules & Rubric
All students must:
Currently be enrolled in a high school (grades 9-12)
Attend a school in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut
Not have previously won or received an honorable mention in the John Sexton Essay Contest
Not be related to any member of the John Sexton Scholars Program Team or current judge
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline has been extended to 11:59 pm EST on June 30, 2021.
Essays must be submitted to email@example.com
Essays must include a cover sheet with the following information: (1) name (2) email address; (3) name of currently enrolled high school; (4) current grade level.
Essays must be submitted as a PDF document.
Only one entry per student per year
Essay must be no more than 500 words in length and double-spaced.
Essays must use at least three varied sources, such as newspaper articles, books, TED Talk videos, documentaries, and government websites.
Sources must be documented with in-text citations and a bibliography.
1st Place Winner: $1000 Visa gift card
2nd Place Winner: $300 Visa gift card
3rd Place Winner: $200 Visa gift card, a plaque from John Sexton at our event, and will have their essay posted on our website.
Six Honorable Mentions: $50 Visa gift card each
All nine winners will be provided with a unique mentorship opportunity with NYU President Emeritus , John Sexton.
Advice on college applications and personal statements
Discussions about college and career goals
General guidance as student navigate their university studies
In addition, all winners will receive:
SAT Tutoring from an elite test prep agency, Sentia Education
A personal Awards Ceremony for students and their families
A signed copy of John Sexton's book Standing for Reason
A plaque from John Sexton at our event
Winners will be announced and notified via email by August 15, 2021.
Past winners of the John Sexton Essay Contest have gone on to attend NYU, Harvard,
Syracuse, Yale, Cornell and many other prestigious colleges and universities.
Content will count for 75% and the following parameters will be considered:
Focus: Insightfully develops a thesis on the topic
Supporting Evidence: Critical analysis of the question, well-researched, and convincing arguments with specific examples (Use evidence to supports your ideas; do not merely paraphrase sources).
Source Material: Bibliography of three or more varied sources
Presentation will count for 25% and the following parameters will be considered:
Quality of Writing: Clarity, flow, vocabulary, and style
Organization: Well structured essay, including an introduction and conclusion
Conventions: Spelling, grammar, syntax, and punctuation
We recommend that you peruse the following resources to best prepare for the contest:
Purdue Online Writing Lab's free writing handouts and MLA guide
Our YouTube Channel for interviews by JS Scholars with leading world experts
The Essay must be solely the work of the entrant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Essays must not infringe on any third-party rights or intellectual property of any person, company or organization.
The John Sexton Scholars Program reserves the right to print and display the essays and photographs of the contest winners.
Previous year winners are not eligible to compete in the contest.
All entries become the property of the John Sexton Scholars Program and will not be returned.
Decisions of the John Sexton Essay Contest Committee are final.