Centering Our Values Essay Contest

You must read and agree to these rules in order to submit your entry.

  • Your submission must respond in the first person to the following prompt in 850 words, maximum:

    As members of a shared community we have responsibilities to one another. Tell us about a time you actively chose to pursue or embody belonging, respect or service — and how that decision made a difference in your life and/or the lives of others around you.
  • The contest is open to undergraduates from Columbia College, Columbia Engineering and Columbia General Studies. One entry per person.
  • Essays must be written in first person and respond to the prompt above. Ideally, submissions will focus on a meaningful personal experience the writer has had with one of the three values. The editors are seeking honest reflection and emotion, and to understand the context for the transformation as well as its significance.
  • Submissions must be original, unpublished nonfiction of no more than 850 words and the work of a sole author.
  • The essay must be submitted as a PDF.
  • The submission deadline is Monday, March 18, 2024, 11:59 p.m. EST.
  • The three winners will be notified by Monday, April 22, 2024, by email. Update: The timeline for notification has been extended to Wednesday, May 8, 2024.
  • Winning essays are subject to editing.
  • The first-place essay will be published in the Summer 2024 issue of CCT in print and online. Second- and third-place essays will be published online in the same issue. Additional promotion may occur in other Columbia school publications, websites and/or social media.
  • By submitting an essay, you agree to have your work published and promoted by Columbia College, Columbia Engineering and/or Columbia General Studies if you are selected as a winner. A publication release is required by CCT.
  • First-, second- and third-prize winners will receive a cash prize, which is subject to applicable taxes. In the event an author is not eligible to receive a cash prize, an alternative prize of approximate value will be awarded. Financial paperwork is required to receive a prize.