Is free speech free? If you can answer that provocative question in 500 words or fewer, you might win the annual Lili Fabilli and Eric Hoffer Essay Prize, which honors brevity alongside brilliance in writing.
The contest is open to all staff, faculty and students at UC Berkeley. The deadline for submission is Dec. 1. The best essay or essays win $100-$1,500, depending on how many winners are selected.
The prize bears the names of writer-philosopher Eric Hoffer and his friend Lili Fabilli. Hoffer worked as a longshoreman in San Francisco for 20 years before serving as an adjunct professor at Berkeley in the 1960s. Best known for his 1951 book The True Believer, he also wrote nine others and won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983.
Hoffer endowed the prize in a 1970 letter to the University of California regents. “The sole criteria for the prizes shall be originality of thought and excellence in writing,” he wrote.
Among past subjects for the essay contest have been “What I don’t know,” “In defense of sloth,” “Whose university?” and — last year — “Advice for the new chancellor.”
Learn more about the prize and read the essays of previous winners on the Fabilli-Hoffer Prize website.
Topics: honors and awards
Nashville Sertoma Freedom Essay Contest Furthers Education
Contestants of the Nashville Sertoma Freedom Essay Contest gather for a photo with their scholarship certificates after the awards banquet. Scholarship winners and leaders pictured from left to right: Michael Collins, (President of the Nashville Sertoma Club) Richard Kidd, (Centennial High School) Anthony Warren, (East Robertson High School) Matthew Moore, (Fairview High School) Paige Reece, (Ezell Harding) Gill Fox, (Contest Director).
March 28, 2016
Freedom. The ability to make our own choices, and pave an independent path. High school students all over the country are faced with the difficult decision of determining their own path after graduation. In order to assist students in both their future and educational endeavors, the Nashville Sertoma Club, of Nashville, Tennessee, created a unique contest.
The Freedom Essay Contest, established in 1961, was designed to provide high school students with the opportunity to write essays for college scholarships.
The contest is specifically designed to financially assist high school seniors in pursuing a higher education after graduation.
Essays are judged by a five person committee comprised of industry professionals, and are judged anonymously based on content.
A grand prize winner is awarded a scholarship of $3,500, and three contestants are selected to receive $2,000. Sertoma’s Freedom Foundation Committee distributes the money, and the students are then able to choose which school they would like to submit their scholarship to.
The schools of the top four winners also receive $100 and a framed copy of the Declaration of Independence.
Joe Hall, a past president of the Nashville Sertoma Club, and an active member of Sertoma for 31 years, said the contest is part of his Club’s tradition.
“It is one of the ways in which we invest in our youth, and advocate freedom,” Hall said.
Each year, the contest has a different theme pertaining to freedom, which is designed to provide students with the chance to creatively answer an assigned question.
The theme of this year’s essay contest was built heavily around the political issue of immigration and the implementation of border walls.
Matthew Moore, a senior at Fairview High School, in Fairview, Tennessee, was selected as the 2015-2016 Freedom Essay Contest winner.
The runner ups of this year’s competition were announced as: Anthony Warren, Easter Robertson High School, Richard Kidd, Centennial High School, and Paige Reece of Ezell Harding High School.
Not only was Moore surprised to have been announced the winner, be he was elated and incredibly thankful for the opportunity provided by Sertoma.
“This scholarship sets some of my stress aside because money has been a very large obstacle for me to overcome in my pursuit to attend college,” Moore said.
In his essay, Moore said he used statistical techniques and strategies to help solve the immigration problem in a way that was fair and logical.
“I was learning about simple random sampling in my AP Statistics class. This lesson inspired me to use the same method I learned in class to solve this real world problem,” Moore said.
Next fall, Moore plans to attend Lipscomb University, in Nashville, Tennessee, and would like to major in mechanical engineering. Eventually, he plans on taking part in mission trips to help individuals in developing countries.
“Only God knows what events will unfold after that,” Moore said. “I plan to set myself up to create new ways to improve the lives of those around me. I want to leave a positive impact on mankind that will last, even after I’m gone.”