Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen (2020)

Jose Antonio Vargas takes audiences deeper into his story, sharing details of his journey to America from the Philippines as a child; his journey through America as an immigration reform activist; and his journey inward as he reconnects with his mother, whom he hadn’t seen in person in over 20 years.

Open to All First Year Students



On page 29 author Hope Jahren writes:

Science has taught me that everything is more complicated than we first assume, and that being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life.”

As you enter college and reflect on “Lab Girl ” How does this statement apply to your worldview as a beginning college student and how you might approach your academic journey? Use a second quote from the book that helps reinforce this. Consider your openness to change, challenges and discovery.

PART A: Essays will be judged on use of textual evidence, originality of thought and clarity of prose.  The completed essay should contain no more than 750 words, double-spaced, using 12-point Times New Roman font, and including a heading that states the title of the essay, your name, and the best way to contact you. Files must be Word docs or PDFs.

PART B: Based on what you’ve read in the book, what would you like to ask Hope Jahren?

Prizes:  First Place = $300   Second Place = $150    Third Place = $100   Fourth Place = $50

Essays and questions are due no later than 12:00 Noon on Monday, September 17, 2018.

Send material as an email attachment to:, and write “FYE Essay Contest” in the subject line.To be considered for the awards, you must complete and submit both parts A and B above by the deadline.





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