first year connections you need to SUCCEED!

The CSUB Roadrunner
First-Year Experience Program
Runner Reader Essay Contest

Do you like writing? Do you like sharing your insights? Do you like competing for prizes?

Then enter The Runner Reader Essay Contest on Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Book cover

Click here for a copy of the entry form

The Winners will be revealed during Ms. Skloot’s campus visit which will take place on Wednesday November 6th, 2013 at 7:00PM at the CSUB Icardo Center.


  • 1st place:          $250
  • 2nd place:          $150
  • 3rd place:          $100

This year's contest topic:

Who owns our information?

Whether it is the e-mail messages stored in our computers or the DNA organizing each of our cells, our lives are constructs of information and data.

Open access – allowing others to freely examine this information – can lead to scientific breakthroughs, including new discoveries and vaccines. However this information may be disseminated without a person’s consent or knowledge, as happened with Henrietta Lacks and – in a much more malignant example – with the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.

Using the story of Henrietta Lacks, explain the potential benefits and hazards of seeing a person as a repository of information, and analyze the process by which we can maintain a healthy balance between personal control and open access of our information. You may use personal examples as well as examples from history and other sources, but you must use Skloot’s text as a foundation.

Essay Contest Guidelines:

  • To be eligible, you must be a matriculated student in CSUB 101, CSUB 301, ENGLISH 80, ENGLISH 100 or ENGLISH 110.
  • A written essay is the only literary form accepted (no poems, plays, songs, etc.).
  • Only one essay may be submitted by each contestant.
  • Each essay should reflect the contestant's own interpretation and original thinking.
  • Each contestant must complete and submit a contest entry form which requires your teacher's signature for verification of authenticity.
  • The contestant's name should only appear on the entry form and should not appear on any page of the essay.
  • The title of the essay, but not the contestant's name, must appear on the top of the first page of the essay text.
  • The essay should be between 2 and 4 pages long.
  • The essay must be submitted typed, double-spaced on one side of the page only.
  • Use 12-point font (preferably Times New Roman or Arial).
  • Use 1-inch margins all around.
  • Do not justify the right margin.
  • Pages should be sequentially numbered.
  • Use MLA-style documentation when quoting from the book.
  • The essay should be bound by a single staple in the upper left-hand corner (Do not use a binder or folder). Do not staple the entry form to the essay.
  • By entering the contest, you confirm that the essay submission is your own original creation.
  • The essays will be judged by a committee of CSUB faculty, staff and students.
  • The winners will be announced during the author's visit on Wednesday November 6, 2013.
  • Contest winners agree to allow their essays to be posted on the Roadrunner First-Year RUSH-A Program website.

Entries must be received by your teacher by Friday October 18, 2013

Essay will be judged on the following criteria:

  1. Creativity – Does the essay reflect a creative and original perspective on the book?
  2. Organization – Does the argument follow a logical and easily understood progression?
  3. Clarity – Does the author use concise language?
  4. Unity/Development of thought– Does the essay reflect a thorough comprehension of the symbols and themes of the book?
  5. Grammar/Mechanics – Does the contestant use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation?

  6. Click here for a copy of the entry form