OMSA and Parent & Family Relations Writing Contest

The Family Pillar Award is given in honor of the significant contributions, sacrifices, and support that family members make in the lives of seniors supported by the Office of Minority Student Affairs (OMSA). OMSA and Parent and Family Relations invite students to submit a writing entry about a family member who has influenced their lives here at Rochester and beyond. Entries are judged by a committee of faculty and staff.

This contest provides OMSA-supported graduating seniors with an opportunity to recognize parents, grandparents, or other family members whose love, support, and guidance have had a significant influence on his/her achievements and success, both academically and personally.

About the Contest

Author Gail Lumet Buckley wrote, “Family faces are like magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future.” Using this quote as a guide, please explain how your parent, grandparent, or other family member has positively influenced your past and present. Share how this influence has contributed to your personal growth and academic success at the University of Rochester and how you plan to use this influence as you look toward your future. The family member referenced in your entry will be nominated to receive this year’s Family Pillar Award.

To enter, you must be an OMSA-supported graduating senior. Entries must be 500–750 words in length for essay or other writing submissions, and a minimum of one page for poetry submissions.

Entries will be judged and the award recipient selected using the following criteria:

  • Thoughtful reflection on the positive influence illustrated and the ways in which the nominee has helped to prepare a brighter future for the student.
  • Clear and concise development of points.
  • Appropriate grammatical correctness and sentence structure.

Deadline and Submission Details

The deadline for submissions is now closed.

Recognition and Prizes

A selection committee will review all writing submissions. All nominees will receive a congratulatory letter and a copy of the submission. Recognition of the winning submission and the award recipient(s) will occur during the Annual OMSA Senior Celebration.

The student who writes the winning submission will receive a University of Rochester themed gift basket and the winner of the Family Pillar Award will receive an award plaque.

Past winners:

  • 2023—In memory of Alhaji Assan Jeng, essay written by his granddaughter Fatoumatta Jobe
  • 2023—In memory of Ismael Bah, essay written by his son, Mohammed Bah
  • 2022—In memory of, Vashti Delang Wade, essay written by her daughter, Yarnetta Leonard
  • 2021—Abiyot Tiruneh, essay written by her daughter, Betelhem Nibret
  • 2019—Linus Umeadi Okafor, essay written by her daughter, Enuma Okafor
  • 2018—Shelley Ann Hudson, essay written by her daughter, Amber Hudson
  • 2017—Vilma Smith Maitland, essay written by her granddaughter, Destiny Maitland
  • 2016—Beverly Aiyanyor, essay written by her sister, Michelle Aiyanyor
  • 2015—Jessica Colorado, essay written by her sister, Amy Colorado
  • 2014—In memory of Martin Quinonez, essay written by his son, Eduardo Quinonez
  • 2013—George and Afiwa Kothor, essay written by their daughter, Marius Kothor
  • 2012—Michael Conover, essay written by son, Neftali Morales
  • 2011—Daisy Benson, essay written by her daughter, Lynn Benson
  • 2010—Winsome Brissett, essay written by her daughter, Kayann Williams
  • 2009—Cynthia German, essay written by her brother Robert Duran
  • 2008—Deborah Willis, essay written by Paulette Cooke