2019 John Sexton Essay Contest


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Jesse Corburn
Assistant Superintendent,
Uncommon Collegiate
Charter High School
Peter Wilson
Musician & College Advisor,
Baccalaureate School for
Global Education
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Chaumtoli Huq
Associate Professor of Law,
CUNY School of Law
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Ting Yu
Founder & Editor-in-chief,
One Day Magazine
Shakil Ahmed
Founder & CEO,
Princeton Alpha Management LP
Sean Gavin
Uncommon Leadership
Charter High School
Adem Carroll
United Nations & New York Program Director,
Burma Task Force


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Yotam Peer
Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School,
10th Grade

The Rise for Rohingya Campaign invites all currently enrolled NYC, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut high school students to participate in the 2019 John Sexton Essay Contest. The competition challenges students to write an original and creative essay for the following prompt:

In a New York Times article, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet stated that “returning Rohingya refugees to Myanmar at this point effectively means throwing them back into the cycle of human rights violations that this community has been suffering for decades.” Explain at least two measures that should be taken by Myanmar or the international community to ensure that the conditions in Myanmar will not continue this cycle of violations upon the Rohingya’s return.

Rules & Rubric

Who May Enter

All currently enrolled NYC, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut 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 April 25, 2019.

  • 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 double-spaced as a PDF document

  • Only one entry per student may be submitted. 

Essay Requirements

  • Essays 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.


Essay must be solely the work of the entrant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Essay must not infringe on any third-party rights or intellectual property of any person, company or organization.


1st Place Winner: will receive a $500 Visa gift card, a plaque from John Sexton, and will have their essay posted on our website. 

(Sponsored by Burma Task Force)

2nd Place Winner: will receive a $300 Visa gift card, a plaque from John Sexton, and will have their essay posted on our website. (Sponsored by Rise for Rohingya Team)

3rd Place Winner: will receive a $200 Visa gift card, a plaque from John Sexton, and will have their essay posted on our website. (Sponsored by Rakan Shafi)

Two Honorable Mentions: will each receive a $50 Visa gift card, a plaque from John Sexton, and will have their essay posted on our website. (Sponsored by Burma Task Force)

Winners will be notified and invited to our event via email by June 15, 2019.

Judging Criteria

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

  1. Focus: Insightful development of 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% 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:

  1. Please watch the following interview before working on your essay: Kwame Anthony Appiah on the Rohingya Crisis (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GW6b_ATfyc)

  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.

  • Previous year winners are not eligible to compete in the contest.

  • 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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