Essay Contest 2019: A Passage Through Time

The theme for the 2019 Hortense Parker Essay Contest is “A Passage Through Time”

Please submit your essay by answering the following question:

Hortense Parker, a member of the Class of 1883, is believed to be the first student of color to graduate from Mount Holyoke College and the first African to attend the College. She traveled nearly a 1,000 miles from Ripley, Ohio by herself to enter a campus that truly did not see her coming. The College did not know she was African-American until she arrived.

Perhaps unbeknown to her, she left the gates of Mount Holyoke, she left a legacy which has impacted students for over 135 years.

Essay Question:

When you leave the "gates" of Mount Holyoke College, what do you hope to leave behind?... What will your legacy be?


  • 1st Place:  $500
  • 2nd Place: $250
  • 3rd Place:  $100


Essays must be submitted by Monday, Sept. 23 at 11:55 pm to

All students are eligibale and encouraged to apply.


  • The essay winners will be announced and asked to present their essay at the Hortense Parker Day Celebration (Thursday, Oct. 3 at 4:30 pm). Essays may be presented by the writer or proxy selected by the author.
  • The contest is an Essay/Narrative contest. 
  • Your essay can be of a purely narrative, personal style, (memoir, personal story, autobiographical piece, etc…) or it can be more of a research based, analysis paper related to the theme (or a blend of the two) 
  • Essays will be judged on originality of content, connection to the theme, ability to communicate to and move an audience, authenticity and integrity of the writing, and basics of writing craft.
  • Submissions will need to be submitted with English translations if they are crafted in another language or have multilingual content.
  • Essays should be submitted electronically but must be formatted to print, double-spaced, on single-sided, 8.5 by 11 inch paper (letter size) with 1 inch margins. Font should be no smaller than 12 point Times or similarly sized font.
  • Your essay should have a title page with your name, class year and email address (it will be separated from your submission before the judges get your work for review).
  • The title page of your essay and a page number should appear in the footer of every page. (not your name)
  • Essays should not exceed 1,500 words. The word count limit includes all words in the text but does not include bibliography and notes as needed.
  • Use a widely used standardized method and style such as MLA, Chicago, or APA to consistently give credit to the sources of the ideas and information used in your essay, when they are not your own.  Use in-text citations, footnotes, or endnotes to give credit to the sources of your information or ideas. Also include a bibliography or a references list for the works that you have cited in your essay or have consulted to write your essay.
  • Your essay must be previously unpublished, and you must have ownership of all rights of presentation and publication.
  • Only one essay per student is permitted.