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2011 Essay Contest

Contest Guidelines
Listed below are some guidelines for the essay contest.  Be sure to follow them as closely as possible so your essay will be eligible for the contest.

Essays will be judged by a panel of English and STEM professors from the College of Southern Maryland.  Content, grammar, and presentation will play an important factor in the judging process. 

All essays become property of the College of Southern Maryland upon submission.

Download Printer Friendly version (requires PDF).

What is STEM?

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. 

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Who is eligible to enter the essay contest?

The essay contest is open to young women in high school (ages 13 thru 21) in the 2010-11 academic year. 

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What is the essay topic?

For your essay, interview a woman currently working in a STEM career field and write about her and her job.  The essay must be in narrative form and address a general audience, similar to an article in a magazine.  The essay should not use an interview or "transcript" format.

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Who should I interview?

  • You may interview and write about any woman currently working in a STEM field.
  • You are encouraged (but not required) to seek out an interviewee that you do not already personally know.

Here are some suggestions for finding possible women to interview:

  • Contact a female teacher or professor teaching STEM courses.  Please do not interview an instructor at the College of Southern Maryland.  Most colleges and universities have websites that list their faculty by department and include their email address and phone number.
  • Contact the public relations department of government agencies or private companies that are primarily involved in STEM fields.  They may be able to direct you to a few women in their organization that would be willing to do an interview.  Examples: NASA, Lockheed Martin, Census Bureau, Naval Surface Warfare Center - Indian Head Division, etc.

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What should I ask in my interview?

           Here are some suggested topics for the interview:

  • her motivation for pursuing her chosen career in STEM
  • her educational background
  • some specific day-to-day activities regarding her career
  • how her family and cultural background affected her career path
  • what advice she would offer to students who are interested in pursuing a career similar to hers

If possible, do the interview either in person or on the phone -- avoid email interviews since clarification and follow-up questions are difficult to do in that format.  

Remember to be professional and respectful!

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What should be the length of my essay?

The essay should be approximately 500 to 800 words and no longer than 1000 words.

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What do I need to submit?

In addition to the essay, you need to complete the checklist, submit the entry form and photo release form, as well as include a short biography (100 to 150 words, no longer than 200 words).   

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How should I submit my essay?

  • By U.S. MAIL, send the essay packet to the address below:

Sandra Poinsett
College of Southern Maryland
Department of Mathematics, Physics, and Engineering
POBox 910
La Plata, MD 20646

MUST BE POSTMARKED BY (and no later than) APRIL 8, 2011.

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When is the deadline?

The deadline is April 8, 2011.  If submitting by U.S. Mail, the package must be postmarked by (and no later than) April 8, 2011.  All packets must be submitted by either U.S. Mail or email.

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Who can I contact if I have questions?

You may contact  Sandra Poinsett, or Stephanie McCaslin (information listed below).  Please note that Ms. Poinsett, and Ms. McCaslin will not be on the essay evaluation committee that chooses the winning essay.

Sandra Poinsett

Stephanie McCaslin


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