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Essay Contest

Summer Reading Program Essay Contest

The Summer Reading Program Committee is sponsoring an essay writing contest for the 2015 freshman class. All first-year students are eligible to submit essays. Essays will be read and evaluated by members of the Summer Reading Program Committee.

The Prize

Write the winning essay and you will be invited to have dinner with Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black, on September 16, 2015. You will also receive a $100 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble Bookstore. 


Essay Question

Piper Kerman Press Photo

At age 24 and with a degree from Smith College in hand, Piper Kerman made a choice that would impact her life in a profound way. Her memoir, Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, documents her choice to transport illegal drug money all around the world and the haunting consequences that followed her long after she had managed to reconstruct a productive life. Like Piper, we make choices every day. Some choices we make using complex processes, carefully considering our values and all aspects of potential outcomes; others we make quickly based on our mood, immediate needs and interests, and pressure, real or imagined, that we feel from those around us. This personal narrative essay asks you to examine a time when you had to make a difficult choice that would impact your life in a significant way. A winning essay will engage the reader with detail, honesty, and a fresh narrative voice.  


Technical Guidelines for Submission

  • Approximately 3 double-spaced, 12 pt. standard font, 1” margin pages
  • MLA citation format, if needed
  • Cover page with the title “Summer Reading Program Essay Contest Submission,” your Banner ID, and the date. (Please omit name.)
  • Staple all pages together at the top left hand corner.
  • Submit 3 copies of your essay to Elisabeth Gonzalez, Room B-10 Cooper Hall, by September 11, 2015 at noon. 

Last Updated 8/5/15