2020 John Sexton Essay Contest
The Rise for Rohingya Campaign invites high school students across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to participate in the 2020 John Sexton Essay Contest. The competition challenges 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?
Gowher Rizvi, Ph.D.
International Affairs Adviser to the
Prime Minister of Bangladesh
Charter High Schools
Ting Yu, M.Ed.
Founder & Editor-in-chief,
Teach for America's One Day Magazine
Sean Gavin, M.Ed.
Principal & Co-Founder,
Charter High School
Shakil Ahmed, Ph.D.
Founder & CEO, Princeton Alpha Management LP
Co-CEO & Co-Founder, Hubble
Kamal Ahmad, J.D.
Founder & President,
Asian University for Women
Adem Carroll, M.A.
United Nations & New York
Program Director, Burma Task Force
Faisal Saeed Al Mutar
Founder & President of Ideas Beyond Borders;
CEO & Founder, Sentia Education
Chaumtoli Huq, J.D.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief of
Law@theMargins; Associate Professor
of Law, CUNY School of Law
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 Rise for Rohingya Team or current judge
No more than 500 words in length and double-spaced
At least three varied sources, such as newspaper and journal articles, books, TED Talk videos, documentaries, and government websites
Sources must be documented within text citations and a bibliography
Only one entry per student per year
The final deadline is 11:59 pm EST on December 30th, 2020
Essays must be submitted to email@example.com
Entries must be sent as a PDF document
Cover sheets must include the author’s:
○ Email address
○ High school currently attending
○ Current grade level
Awards & Mentorship Program
1st Place - $500 Visa gift card
2nd Place - $300 Visa gift card
3rd Place - $200 Visa gift card
Four Honorable Mentions - $50 Visa gift card each
All seven 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 students 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
Past winners of the John Sexton Essay Contest have gone on to attend
NYU, Harvard, U. Michigan, Yale, Cornell and many other prestigious colleges and universities.
Winners will be announced and notified via email by March 1st, 2021
Content – 75%
Focus: Insightful development of a relevant thesis
Supporting Evidence: Well researched analysis of the question and convincing arguments with specific examples (Use evidence to support your ideas; do not merely paraphrase sources).
Source Material: Bibliography of three or more varied sources
Presentation – 25%
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:
Rise for Rohingya’s Learn More page for articles and news on the Rohingya Crisis
All previous contest winners’ essays are posted on our website
Our interview with Kwama Appiah, NYU professor and the 2018 Essay Contest’s Chair
Purdue Online Writing Lab’s free writing handouts and MLA guide
Rise for Rohingya’s Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages for ongoing news on the contest and advice on how to approach the essay
Essays must solely be 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 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.