Loyola University Maryland

Messina

Essay and Creative Expression Contest

Book Cover Picture of Dear America by Jose Antonio Vargas Each year, the Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies and Messina sponsor a Common Text essay contest for the newest members of the Loyola community. For the first time this summer, the contest will also include a creative expression category.

The two first prize winners will each receive a check for $300. 3-4 students will also receive Honorable Mention prizes of $100. 
To be eligible, please submit an original essay or creative expression based on the prompts below to the Messina Office at messina@loyola.edu no later than midnight on August 6, 2020. We will celebrate the winners during Fall Welcome Weekend.

Answer one of the two prompts below using only the Common Text, your intellect and creativity. That is, no outside resources are needed in this exercise in reflection and discernment. The goal is original thought and expression inspired by careful reading. 

ESSAY PROMPT

Your essay should be no longer than 5 double-spaced, typed pages. Please include your name at the top of the first page. Please submit your essay as a Microsoft Word or PDF document only. 

Near the end of the book, Jose talks about what he calls the “citizenship of participation” (195). For him, the phrase means, “Citizenship is showing up. Citizenship is using your voice while making sure you hear other people around you. Citizenship is how you live your life” (195-96). In what ways is Jose’s definition changing what we typically associate with citizenship? Are these alternatives more positive or negative than the word’s usual connotations? 

Do not use a dictionary definition, use Vargas’s text to develop your ideas. Of course, you should also draw on your personal experience to help develop your points. Submissions to the category will be judged on both style and content. Judges will look for the following qualities:

Written work that clearly address the prompt and reference examples from the book
Originality and imagination 
Written work that is clear, articulate and logically organized 
Written work that is carefully proofread 

CREATIVE EXPRESSION PROMPT

Only one submission per person will be accepted. Artwork of any size and any medium will be accepted. Entries should be accompanied by an artist statement that does not exceed 500 words (1 page, double-spaced). Your artist statement should connect your work to the following quote from the book, letting us know how you were inspired: 

In the prologue Jose writes, “This book is about homelessness, not in a traditional sense, but the unsettled, unmoored psychological state that undocumented immigrants like me find ourselves in. This book is about lying and being forced to lie to get by; about passing as an American and as a contributing citizen; about families, keeping them together and having to make new ones when you can’t. This book is about constantly hiding from the government and, in the process, hiding from ourselves. This book is about what it means to not have a home.” 

Creative Expression submissions may consist of the following categories: 

  • Visual Arts: Possible submissions include two-dimensional or three-dimensional works, in any media. You may submit a photo of the piece and/or a graphic file in JPG or GIF format. The recommended size for all files is 2MB or under. 
  • Creative Writing: Examples of this category include poetry, short stories, song lyrics and other forms of creative writing. All entries must be under 1000 words, in English (or include an English translation of the original work), and, if possible, typed in 12-point font, and double-spaced with 1-inch margins. Please submit as a Microsoft Word or PDF document.
  • Music: Submissions should include a video or audio recording and a copy of the lyrics (include an English translation if the lyrics are in another language). Lyrics should be submitted as a Microsoft Word or PDF document. Video or audio recordings should be submitted in MOV or MP4 format, or you may upload the video to YouTube and provide us with a link.
  • Digital Media: Short video submissions should be between 2 minutes and 5 minutes. Acceptable formats for video submission are MOV, MP4, or you may upload the video to YouTube and provide us with a link.
  • Dramatic Monologue: Dramatic monologues may be captured through short video submissions and should be between 2 minutes and 5 minutes. Acceptable formats for video submission are MOV, MP4, or you may upload the video to YouTube and provide us with a link.

If you use quotes or other copyrighted material, please use MLA or APA format and supply a Works Cited/ Reference list.  By virtue of submission, the participant gives permission to Loyola University Maryland to publish the work as part of a virtual gallery or to use it in other promotional material. Entries will be judged on the following criteria: content, application and interpretation of the theme, and consistency with the prompt. Submissions to the category will be judged on both style and content. Judges will look for the following qualities, depending upon the format and medium of the entry: 

  • Well thought out pieces that clearly address the prompt
  • Depth of feeling about the subject
  • Originality and imagination
  • Eloquence and style
  • Written work that is clear, articulate and logically organized
  • Written work that is carefully proofread

 

QUESTIONS?

If you have any questions about the essay or creative expression prompts and guidelines, please contact the Messina Office at 410-617-2190 or messina@loyola.edu

 

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