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Family Essay Contest

Military Family Month
Art & Essay Contest teaches healthy communication skills

Military children draw and write about unique challenges

Details and Information:

Co-sponsored by GEICO, the annual Armed Services YMCA Art & Essay Contest allows children to express their military lifestyle and serves to remind us of the sacrifices our men and women in uniform, and their families, make each day for our country. Entries for the art contest depict the theme, “My Military Family” or "My Day at the ASYMCA," while the essay's theme is either "My greatest challenge as a military child has been.." or "How the Armed Services YMCA helped me."

The contest is officially launched every November and is open to all eligible children of U.S. active duty or retired service members. Winners of both the art and essay contests are announced in April and have their winning entries displayed at 34 Armed Services YMCA branch and affiliate locations, as well as military bases worldwide during Military Family Month each November.  

Winners also receive a special Apple brand product prize to help military children continue creating and expressing themselves.

Art Contest

Entries for the art contest should depict the theme, “My Military Family” or "My Day at the ASYMCA." The art contest promotes art among children in grades 1–6 of active duty or retired (with 20+ years of service) members of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard/Reserves families.

Essay Contest

This year’s the essay contest's two themes, "How the ASYMCA has helped me," or "My greatest challenge as a military child has been.." encourages military children to use creative writing to express how they conquered the challenge or how the ASYCMA was a part of their life.

Reminder: all artwork and essays become the property of the Armed Services YMCA.


Submissions for the ASYMCA Art & Essay Contest should be submitted by March 16, 2018

Details and entry forms

Rules, instructions, & entry forms can be found by clicking the rules & entry form button.  

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The details of the annual contest are released in November. Sign up now so you don't miss the deadline to enter.

Last year's winning submissions:








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

Complete the online submission form to enter.

Note: The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, April 25, 2018.

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 OMSA Annual Senior Dinner in May.

The student who writes the winning submission will be presented with a University gift basket and the winner(s) of the Family Pillar Award will be presented with a plaque.

Past Winners:

  • 2017—Vilma Smith Maitland, written by her granddaughter, Destiny Maitland
  • 2016—Beverly Aiyanyor, 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

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