2020 High School Essay Contest

April 7, 2020: Due to the current call for social distancing as advised by the state of Louisiana in response to COVID-19, the prompt for the 2020 NSU Louisiana High School Essay Contest has been revised. Entrants may interview any member of their family or surrounding community as long as their interviewee is at least one generation older than themselves, such as, for example, their parents or guardians. As well, we encourage entrants to consider remote interviewing methods such as by phone, WebEx, etc., that enable them to converse while still practicing safe social distancing. Entrants may include information from multiple interviewees in their essays if they so choose.

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The 12th annual NSU Louisiana High School Essay Contest is now open for submissions until June 1, 2020.  The essay contest is open to all Louisiana students in grades 9-12 regardless of type of school institution, including students in all types of private educational environments, as well as home schooled students.

The 2020 Contest theme is "Remembering Louisiana."  Entrants are invited to visit with an elderly member of their family or surrounding community about how Louisiana has changed over their lifetime.  What do they feel are the most significant changes they have experienced over their lifetime?  Personal reflections and experiences are perfectly valid as part of the essay content.  Essays may be in narrative form if the student so chooses.

Essays should be approximately 1,000 - 2,500+ words, should have titles, and should be typed (double spaced, 12-point font, standard margins).  Entries should include a cover sheet with the student's name, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address, school affiliation, and the title of their entry.  Entries may be submitted via e-mail to Dr. Shane Rasmussen, rasmussens@nsula.edu or mailed to the Louisiana Folklife Center, NSU Box 3663, Natchitoches, LA 71497. "2020 NSU Louisiana High School Essay Contest" should be the subject line of e-mails.  The deadline for contest submissions is June 1, 2020.  Prize-winning students will be notified by July 15, 2020.

The prizes for the contest winners are: 1st place - $150; 2nd place - $100; and 3rd place - $50.  In addition, essay contest winners will receive a $200/per semester NSU scholarship with a value up to $1600 if they attend NSU for four years.  This award is in addition to other scholarship awards that the student may receive from Northwestern State University.  Winners must have at least a 20 ACT composite or 950 on the SAT, as well as at least a 2.0 GPA to be eligible.  Essay winners need to submit proof of the award. Winning essayists will be invited to read their paper at the 12th Annual Louisiana Studies Conference held at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches on Saturday September 19, 2020.

The top three winning entries will also be published in the Louisiana Folklife Journal.  Submission of an entry to the Contest entails granting permission to publish the essay in the Louisiana Folklife Journal.  Entries may be subject to minor revision prior to publication. Additional information is available on the website for the Louisiana Folklife Center at Northwestern State University: https://louisianafolklife.nsula.edu/.

Sponsored by the Louisiana Folklife Center, the NSU Writing Project, the College of Arts, Sciences, Graduate Studies and Research, the Department of English, Foreign Languages, and Cultural Studies, the Office of Financial Aid, and the Office of Recruiting at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana.


Essay Contest Co-chairs:

Dr. Lisa Abney, Faculty Facilitator for Academic Research and Community College Outreach and Professor of English

Jason Church, Materials Conservator, National Center for Preservation Technology and Training

Lisa Davis, National Writing Project Director and Instructor of English and Education

Dr. Shane Rasmussen, Director of the Louisiana Folklife Center and Professor of English

Sharon Wolff, CA, Assistant Archivist, Cammie G. Henry Research Center