2018 John Sexton Essay Contest


WhatsApp Image 2019-01-19 at 8.33.40 PM_
Ting Yu
Founder & Editor-in-chief,
One Day Magazine
Jesse Corburn
Assistant Superintendent,
Uncommon Collegiate Charter High School
Sean Gavin
Uncommon Leadership Charter High School
Jed Sexton
SAT Expert,
Advantage Testing
Mary Silver
New York City District 2


1st place

2nd place

3rd place

Iftida Faria
Brooklyn Technical High School,
11th Grade
Hana Kim
Stuyvesant High School,
10th Grade
Elena Li
The Bronx High School of Science,
12th Grade

The Rise for Rohingya Campaign invited all currently enrolled NYC high school students to participate in the John Sexton Essay Contest. The competition challenged students to write an original and creative essay for one of the following prompts (choose one) :

1) An article in the Economist stated, “Myanmar’s governments have never granted them [Rohingya] citizenship or even recognized them as an indigenous ethnic group. Bangladesh does not allow the Rohingyas citizenship, either.” However, Myanmar and Bangladesh both have signed or ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees “the right to a nationality.” Would shaming these countries, since they have not lived up to their commitment, be an effective way to bring positive change to the Rohingya population?  

2) Describe three challenges currently faced by the Rohingya Refugee Community and how high school students can collaborate to alleviate these challenges.

Rules & Rubric

Who May Enter

All currently enrolled NYC high school students (grades 9-12).

How to Submit An Essay

  • Essays must be submitted electronically via email to essay@riseforrohingya.org no later than 11:59 pm EST on January 31, 2018.

  • Essays must include a cover sheet with the following information: (1) name and address; (2) email address; (3) name of currently enrolled high school; (4) current grade level.

  • Essays must be submitted double-spaced in a PDF document. 

  • Only one entry per student may be submitted. 

Essay Requirements

  • 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, letters, and/or YouTube videos. Sources must be documented with citations and a bibliography.


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.


1st Place Winner: will receive a $300 Amazon gift card, a certificate or plaque from John Sexton at our event, and will have their essay posted on our website. (Sponsored by the Hudson Motors & Body Shop Inc)

2nd Place Winner: will receive a $200 Amazon gift card, a certificate or plaque from John Sexton at our event, and will have their essay posted on our website. (Sponsored by Rashed Khan & Tarikul Islam)

3rd Place Winner: will receive a $100 Amazon gift card, a certificate or plaque from John Sexton at our event, and will have their essay posted on our website. (Sponsored by Shima Aktar & Sheik Hasan)

Winners will be notified and invited to our event with one member of their family via email by February 15, 2018.

Judging Criteria

Content will count for 75 percent and the following parameters will be considered:

  1. Focus: Insightfully develops a thesis on the topic

  2. Supporting Evidence: critical analysis of the question, well-researched, and convincing arguments with specific examples

  3. Source Material: bibliography of three or more varied sources


Presentation will count for 25 percent and the following parameters will be considered:

  1. Quality of Writing: clarity, flow, vocabulary, and style

  2. Organization: introduction, conclusion, and structure,

  3. Conventions: spelling, grammar, syntax, and punctuation


We recommend that you peruse the learn more page to further research about the Rohingya Crisis before writing your essay. 

The following links are recommended to improve your essay content:

  1. If you choose to work on essay prompt one, please watch the following lecture before working on your essay: Kwame Anthony Appiah - The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCff5JFFVU0)

  2. Purdue Online Writing Lab is an online writing center which provides free writing and instructional handouts: (https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/)

  3. Please follow our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook page for tips and advice on how to approach the essay.


  • The Rise for Rohingya Campaign reserves the right to print and display the essays and photographs of the contest winners.

  • All entries become the property of the Rise for Rohingya Campaign and will not be returned.

  • Decisions of the John Sexton Essay Contest Committee are final.

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