2020 - 2021 John Sexton Essay Contest
The John Sexton Scholars Program and Rise for Rohingya Campaign invite high school students across New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to participate in the 2020 - 2021 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?
Senior Fellow at NYU Center on International Cooperation; Columnist at foreignpolicy.com
Charter High Schools
Ting Yu, M.Ed.
Founder & Editor-in-chief,
Teach for America's One Day Magazine
Shakil Ahmed, Ph.D.
Founder & CEO, Princeton Alpha Management LP
Jatnna Ramirez, M.P.A.
Director of High School Programs,
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;
Human Rights Lawyer; 2016 International Woman of Courage Award
Sean Gavin, M.Ed.
Principal & Co-Founder,
Charter High School
CEO & Founder, Sentia Education
Chaumtoli Huq, J.D.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief of
Law@theMargins; Associate Professor
of Law, CUNY School of Law
Mohd Aminul Karim, Ph.D.
Author of Genocide and Geopolitics of the Rohingya Crisis; Lt. Gen. (Ret.) of Bangladesh Army
Nandana Dev Sen
Author of Acrobat; International Actress
Marymount School of New York,
Stuyvesant High School,
Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School,
Bard High School Early College Queens,
Branford High School,
West Morris Central High School,
River Dell High School,
Byram Hills High School,
Hunter College High School,
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 - $1,000 Visa gift card
2nd Place - $300 Visa gift card
3rd Place - $200 Visa gift card
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 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, Syracuse, Yale, Cornell and many other prestigious colleges and universities.
Winners will be announced and notified via email by August 15, 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:
Advice from previous contest winners and their essays published on this website
Purdue Online Writing Lab’s free writing handouts and MLA guide
Check out our YouTube Channel for interviews by JS Scholars with leadings world experts
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.