A Letter to Students
from Elie Wiesel

Whatever the answer to essential questions of society and individual human beings may be, education is surely its major component. But what would education be without its ethical dimension? Many of us believe them to be inseparable. That is why this Prize in Ethics Essay Contest was established in 1989 by our Foundation. Thousands of students from hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation have participated. Through their writing, they explored their concerns and beliefs, their fears and their hopes.

While we suggest relevant topics each year, applicants are encouraged to choose any subject they feel strongly about, provided it is related to the domain of ethics.

The quality of the essays we have received over the years has been remarkable. It is with great difficulty that winners are chosen by a special committee of teachers and scholars.

We appeal to college students to send us their essays. We promise you they will not be ignored. In fact, we shall be proud to be your first readers. And perhaps your first critics and publishers.

We wish you good luck.

2023 Writing Prompt

Opens September 2022

What challenges awaken your conscience?

Is it the conflicts in American society? An international crisis? Maybe a difficult choice you face or a hard decision you had to make?

Engage us. Enlighten us. Explore the ethics of any problem, question, or issue, whether close to home or in the world at large. We are eager to learn from you.

Apply NowView Our Full Guidelines

FAQ

Full guidelines are posted above.

The guidelines state that “Registered undergraduate full-time juniors or seniors at accredited four-year colleges or universities in the United States during the Fall 2022 semester” are eligible to enter the 2023 contest. Students must fill this requirement in order to have their essay and application accepted for The Elie Wiesel Foundation Prize in Ethics Essay Contest – no exceptions will be made.

If students are not sure whether they are registered undergraduate full-time juniors or seniors at their accredited four-year schools, they should check with their registrar first before contacting the Foundation.

Students are eligible to enter the 2023 contest if:

  1. They are registered undergraduate full-time juniors or seniors at accredited four-year colleges or universities in the United States during the Fall 2022 semester, or
  2. They fulfill the guideline requirements and are studying abroad during the Fall 2022 semester, as long as they are registered as full-time juniors or seniors at their home schools in the U.S., or
  3. They are international or non-citizen students who fill the guideline requirements and are attending schools in the U.S.

Students are NOT eligible to enter if…

  • They are not yet attending college (includes not attending during the Fall 2022 semester), or are in high school.
  • They attend two-year programs or schools, or are enrolled in an Associates degree or community college program.
  • They are part-time junior or senior students during the Fall 2022 semester.
  • They have finished their undergraduate studies before the Fall 2022 semester.
  • They are in a doctorate, masters, or any graduate program.
  • They are attending un-accredited schools or institutions.
  • They are students at a school outside of the U.S.

If you are not eligible this year, you may be eligible in following years. New application forms and guidelines are posted every fall.

In designing the contest, the Foundation felt that limiting entries to juniors and seniors would allow students two years to take classes and develop their views and understanding of ethics before competing in the Contest.

Again, please remember that this is an annual contest and you are welcome to apply in the future.

The Foundation receives many inquiries regarding what students may write about in their essays. The topics provided by the Foundation each year are merely suggested topics – students may feel free to write about any topic as long as it pertains to ethics.

Any interested professor at the student’s school may act as a Faculty Sponsor. Students entering the contest are required to have a Faculty Sponsor review their essay and sign the Entry Form. Faculty members should only endorse thought-provoking, well-written essays that fall within the contest guidelines.
Students studying abroad may have professors at their home or abroad institution serve as their Faculty Sponsor.

The names and essays for the current year’s winners can be found below.

All First, Second and Third Place winning essays from 1990 to the present are also available on our website, these essays are located under Past Winners. All essays are available in both html and PDF format. There is no publication for purchase at this time which includes winning essays.

Please remember that the essays may not be reproduced or distributed without written permission from the Foundation.

If you are not eligible to enter The Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics Essay Contest this year, you might want to try the following websites which offer helpful links and scholarship resources:

2022 Winners


Honorable Mention

$1,000

Alexander Viviano

University of Chicago

The Ethics of Geopolitics - Le Carré's Timelessness

Eric Evangelista

Syracuse University

Denied: Privacy, Dignity, Death

*Please note that all essays are the property of The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity and may not be published elsewhere without written permission from the Foundation. All views and opinions expressed in the winning essays are those of the individual writers. The Foundation does not necessarily share these views.

Past Years' Winners

Click on the contest year to view the winners & their essays for that year.

*Please note that all essays are the property of The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity and may not be published elsewhere without written permission from the Foundation. All views and opinions expressed in the winning essays are those of the individual writers. The Foundation does not necessarily share these views.

First Prize

Michael Zhu
A Lonely Farewell
University of Connecticut

Second Prize

Ester Villa Espinoza
The Shoulder of Giants
Grand Canyon University

Third Prize

Nejra Kravic
O Land of Bosnia: Identity, Belonging, and the Nation
Scripps College

Honorable Mention

Tiffany Vaughan
Kidney Markets: Irreconcilable Aims of Medicine and Organ Markets
University of Chicago

First Prize

Alexandra Lang
Any Fraction of Infinity: Aging, Illness, and the Right to Continue
Northwestern University

Second Prize

Christina Ge
Blank Childhoods
Brown University

Third Prize

Aditya Sharma
Of Permits and People
Columbia University

Honorable Mention

Devin Kinsella
Towards Vice or Virtue: An Ethical Inquiry into Suffering
University of Northwestern, St. Paul

First Prize

David Olin
The View from My Window The Ethics of Using Violence to Fight Fascism
The University of California, Berkeley

Second Prize

Isabel de Katona
Global Citizen
Barnard College, Columbia University

Third Prize

Matthew Zipf
Kingdom of the Sick The Ethics of Assisted Suicide
Columbia University

Honorable Mentions

Alex Skopic
This Means War Antisemitism, Fascist Rhetoric, and the Duty of Opposition
Misericordia University

L. Soleil Gaffner
The Delicate Balance of Ethical Journalism A Case Study
Trinity University

First Prize

Megan Phan
Dear Dad: A Long-Overdue Confrontation with Black and Blue
Syracuse University

Second Prize

Sarah Hagerty
In the Absence of Memory
Eckerd College

Third Prize

Jacob Saliba
Why the Night Trilogy Matters
Ohio Dominican University

Honorable Mentions

Areeba Khwaja
Opening Pandora’s Box: Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness…and, Healthcare?
University of Texas at Austin

First Prize

Darren Yau
“Truthfulness and Tragedy” Chinese Translation
Wheaton College

Second Prize

Ana Dougherty
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Third Prize

Michael Ivory
Duke University

Honorable Mentions

Ryan Duffy
Boston College

Eleanor Eagan
Middlebury College

First Prize

Micah Latty
Bethel University

Second Prize

Dana Kiel
University of Denver

Third Prize

Luiza Lodder
Pennsylvania State University

Honorable Mentions

Devon Flanagan
Boston University

Eliah Medina
University of Houston- Clear Lake

First Prize

Alexandra Stewart
The University of New Mexico

Second Prize

Andrew Mueller
United States Merchant Marine Academy

Third Prize

Andrew King
University of California Berkeley

Honorable Mentions

Joshua Asaro
United States Merchant Marine Academy

Robert Chan
Colorado State University- Pueblo

First Prize

Christina Whitcomb
Bowdoin College

Second Prize

Jennifer Hu
Swarthmore College

Third Prize

Alejandro Camacho
The University of Texas San Antonio

Honorable Mention

Katelyn Edwards
University of Tampa

First Prize

Gavriel Brown
Yeshiva University

Second Prize

George Kuehnert
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Third Prize

Alyssa Hollingsworth
Berry College

Honorable Mentions

Lucinda Yang
Lee University

Jamie Odom
John Brown University

First Prize

Sarah Ransohoff
University of North Carolina

Second Prize

Victor Hernandez-Jayme
University of Texas at San Antonio

Third Prize

Aimee Griffin
Gettysburg College

Honorable Mentions

Victoria Liu
University of Michigan

Logan Byrd
Brescia University

First Prize

Jonathan Calloway
East Tennessee State University

Second Prize

Ethan Schwartz
University of Chicago

Third Prize

Kanglei Wang
Yale University

Honorable Mentions

Amy Schilit
University of Southern California

Rebekah Berger May
University of New Orleans

First Prize

Joseph Vignone
Fordham University

Second Prize

Raphael Magarik
Yale University

Third Prize

Stephanie Wong
Washington University, St. Louis

Honorable Mentions

Andreana Lefton
American University

Jonathan Stamm
Rollins College

First Prize

Zohar Atkins
Brown University

Second Prize

Alamdar Murtaz
University of Rochester

Third Prize

Alexander Englert
Gettysburg College

Honorable Mentions

Rita Chang
University of Delaware

Daniel Ming
Vassar College

First Prize

Mae Gibson
University of Wisconsin-Superior

Second Prize

Heather Heldman
Yale University

Third Prize

Nikolas Nadeau
St. John’s University (MN)

Honorable Mentions

Elaine Lai
Wesleyan University

Jessica Richman
Stanford University

First Prize

Magogodi Makhene
Neumann College

Second Prize

Kathryn Edwards
University of Texas at Austin

Third Prize

Rebecca Kraus
Boston College

Honorable Mentions

Sophia Paraschos
Carleton College

Lynette Sieger
Westminster College

First Prize

Tracy Ke
Duke University

Second Prize

Amia Srinivasan
Yale University

Third Prize

Tristan Fischl
Western Connecticut State University

Honorable Mentions

Christopher Allison
Olivet Nazarene University

Siri Davenport
University of Louisville

First Prize

Sarah Stillman
Yale University

Second Prize

Christine Henneberg
Pomona College

Third Prize

Catherine Bosley
George Washington University

Honorable Mentions

Logan Plaster
Northwestern University

Katharine Wilkinson
The University of the South

First Prize

Leslie Barnard
Pomona College

Second Prize

Peter Erickson
University of Chicago

Third Prize

Dan Carlin
Washington University

Honorable Mentions

Ayelet Amittay
Brown University

Lauren Smith
University of Texas

First Prize

Aleksandr (Sasha) Senderovich
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Second Prize

Sarah Watkins
Indiana University Southeast

Third Prize

Katherine Bair
Youngstown State University

Honorable Mentions

Alexandra Rahr
Dalhousie University

Brittany Perham
Tufts University

First Prize

Courtney Martin
Barnard College

Second Prize

Yvette Cabrera-Rojas
University of Louisville

Third Prize

Ian Jankelowitz
University of Nevada-Las Vegas

Honorable Mentions

James Adomian
Whittier College

Aaron MacLean
St. John’s College

First Prize

James Long IV
College of William and Mary

Second Prize

Kelly Daley
Mount Saint Mary College

Third Prize

Arielle Parker
Brandeis University

Jennifer Slagter
Trinity Christian College

Honorable Mentions

Kelin Emmett
Michigan State University

First Prize

Alexa Kolbi-Molinas
Smith College

Second Prize

Matthew Mendham
Taylor University

Third Prize

Minh Doan
Berea College

Honorable Mentions

Daniel Brook
Yale University

Brett Gross
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

First Prize

Sami Halabi
Kansas State University

Second Prize

Jason Costa
Emory University

Third Prize

Angela Leddy
State University of New York-Cortland

Honorable Mentions

Abigail Krauser
Columbia University

Stefan Schulz
Sonoma State University

First Prize

Laura Overland
University of Missouri – Kansas City

Second Prize

Quanganh Richard Tran
University of California – Irvine

Third Prize

Megan Zuercher
College of the Ozarks

Honorable Mentions

Lincoln Hancock
Guilford College

Richard Kemp
University of Maryland – Baltimore County

First Prize

Tamara Duker
Duke University

Second Prize

Bridgett Taylor
Castleton State College

Third Prize

Mark Reeder
University of New Hampshire

Honorable Mentions

Matthew Donohue
Oregon State University

Janet Lin
Amherst College

David Siroky
Boston University

First Prize

Kim Kupperman
University of Maine – Machias

Second Prize

David Greven
Hunter College of the City University of New York

Third Prize

Jeanette Rosenfeld
Barnard College

Honorable Mentions

Virginia Henriksen
Buena Vista University

Chong-Min Hong
Harvard University

First Prize

Andrea Useem
Dartmouth College

Second Prize

Courtney Brkic
College of William and Mary

Third Prize

Nadia Yakoob
University of California – Los Angeles

Honorable Mentions

Monica Eiland
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Marjorie Huang
Tufts University

First Prize

Win Travassos
Harvard University

Second Prize

Robert Westerfelhaus
Ohio Dominican College

Third Prize

Rebecca Shelton
University of Missouri – Kansas City

Honorable Mentions

Julie Cantor
Stanford University

Rachel Maddow
Stanford University

First Prize

Jendi B. Reiter
Harvard University

Second Prize

Aaron Thompson
Otterbein College

Third Prize

Carrie Miller
Claremont McKenna College

Honorable Mentions

Thomas Murphy
University of Iowa

Juan M. Plascencia, Jr.
Harvard University

First Prize

Kimlyn Bender
Jamestown College

Second Prize

Karen Ho
Washington University – St. Louis

Third Prize

Thao Dinh Vo
Dartmouth College

Honorable Mentions

David Eaton
Trinity University

Donna McKereghan
Eastern Washington University

Allison Handler
Williams College

First Prize

Peggy Brophy
Colby-Sawyer College

Second Prize

Meredith L. Kilgore
University of Hawaii – Manoa

Third Prize

Jason Hodin
Wesleyan University

Honorable Mentions

Chris Newman
St. John’s College

Laura Elaine Pogliano
College of St. Francis

Steven Christopher Wrenn
Santa Clara University

First Prize

Amy Rosenzweig
Northwestern University

Second Prize

Steven Allen
Edgewood College

Third Prize

Stephen Fairchild
Claremont McKenna College

Honorable Mentions

Paula Rhode
University of Tampa

Jonathan Springer
Harvard University

Daniel P. Thero
Siena College

An Ethical Compass

In 2010, The Elie Wiesel Foundation published a book of winning essays from the span of the Prize in Ethics Essay Contest. The book includes a preface written by Prof. Wiesel and an introduction by renowned author and New York Times Op-Ed contributor Thomas Friedman.

Buy Now