Essay Contest

Eighth Grade Essay Contest

Together with the Rochester Hills Public Library and the the Auburn Hills Public Library, the Rochester branch of AAUW annually sponsors an Eighth Grade Women’s History Month Essay Contest.

Are you in the 8th grade? Have you been inspired by a woman in history or a woman in your family? Write an essay telling about your experience and you could be the winner of the fourteenth annual Rochester AAUW 8th grade essay contest about “A Woman of Significance to Me.” Prizes of $100.00, $75.00 and $50.00 will be awarded to the first, second and third place winners at the Rochester Community House on April 18, 2019.

The 2019 contest is now open. Essays are due by April 1, 2019 and winners will be featured at our meeting at the Rochester Community House on Thursday, April 18, 2019. Download the application and contest rules here.


Winners of the 2018 AAUW Of Rochester 8th Grade Essay Contest.
The students wrote about “A Woman of Significance to Me”. Congratulations!

Meet the winners of the AAUW Eighth Grade Essay Contest

The Rochester branch of the American Association of University Women is proud to announce the winners of the 2018 Eighth Grade Essay Contest about “A Woman of Significance to Me.”

First place winner Gemma Ugorowski from Van Hoosen Middle School chose Olympic and world champion swimmer, Katie Ledecky. Gemma was inspired to craft a well thought out goal sheet and to have a positive attitude even on bad days by Katie’s words “before you can achieve you must believe in yourself.”

Second place winner Alex Wang from Van Hoosen Middle School chose his German teacher, Mrs. Theresa Robinson because she helped Alex to “see people for who they are, not what they look like.” Along with a new awareness of Germany and German culture Mrs. Robinson made Alex more aware of how he treated people who were different than him.

Third place winner Rahi Shah from Reuther Middle School chose Mrs. Vidhi Ghosalkar her teacher at Finesse Academy. Rahi attributes her abilities to speak more confidently in class, become more outgoing, and manage her time more efficiently with techniques she learned in Mrs. Ghosalkar’s classes.

The Kathy Watson Memorial Award winner for 2018 is Mena Nasiri a student at West Middle School. Mena realized that while looking for someone to be a role model and help her to become a better person “that person has been with me from the moment I was born.” Mena takes inspiration from her mother’s persistence, determination, and kindness and hopes that she will be able to pass these qualities on to her children.

Honorable Mention award went to Audrey Newman a student at Van Hoosen Middle School for her essay about her second grade teacher, Mrs. Gail Wallis. Audrey remembers how Mrs. Wallis “would urge us to read our stories aloud to the class” while Audrey never worried about being laughed at because “the atmosphere in her classroom was always welcoming.”

Honorable Mention award went to Mia Nixon a student at Van Hoosen Middle School for her essay about her great aunt Lillian. After spending three years during World War II in a camp in Siberia Lillian’s family was sent a camp in Persia, from there to Mexico and finally the United States. Mia says she learned that you can adapt to difficult situations and the importance of family and helping others.

Thank you to Jessica Remington from the Auburn Hills Public Library and Allison Sartwell from the Rochester Hills Public library for sharing your stories about a significant woman in your life.

The eighth-grade essay contest about “A Woman of Significance to Me” is sponsored annually by the Rochester branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Students living in the Rochester and Avondale school districts are invited to submit their essays. Additional sponsors of the contest are the Rochester Hills Public Library and the Auburn Hills Public Library.

Winners of the 2018 Eighth Grade Essay contest back row: Gemma Ugorowski, Mrs. Theresa Robinson, Mrs. Vidhi Ghosalkar; seated row: Alex Wang, Rahi Shah, Mia Nixon. Not pictured: Mena Nasiri and Audrey Newman.


And the 2015 winners are…

The Rochester branch of the American Association of University Women announces the winners of the 2015 Eighth Grade Essay Contest.

Winners of the AAUW Rochester (MI) 2015 Essay Contest

Winners of the Eighth Grade Essay Contest from left to right Geetanjali Rastogi, Leighann Heim, Ryan Mathews, Helayna Shackelford, Nicolette Patsarikas, Sydney Reed

Ryan Mathews, a student at Van Hoosen Middle School, is the first place winner with his essay about Mother Teresa. Ryan has always believed that being a good student was a key to success. Reading the life story of Mother Teresa, however, altered his perspective and he now plans to “dedicate my medical career to provide services to those who are underserved.”

Helayna Shackelford, a student at Hart Middle School, is the second place winner with her essay about the gymnast Gabby Douglas. Helayna observed that “Gabby Douglas showed me that it doesn’t matter how old you are or what color you are, you can achieve your goals, if you work hard and are persistent.”

Nicolette Patsarikas, a student at Van Hoosen Middle School, is the third place winner with her essay about Mrs. Mary Tangalos who was instrumental in helping Nicolette overcome her fear of public speaking. Nicolette shared how Mrs. Mary guided her through a speech festival thus giving her confidence in speaking that “will benefit me for the rest of my life in school and my career.”

Geetanjali Rastogi, a student at Van Hoosen Middle School, is the winner of the Kathy Watson Memorial Award for her essay about her mother. Geetanjali’s goal is to be a doctor like her mother, a doctor who works hard to care for her patients while also devoting time to the care of her family. Geetanjali ended her essay by saying “although I take pride in calling her my mother, I cannot wait until I have achieved all of these goals so that she can take pride in calling me her daughter.”

Sydney Reed, a student at Van Hoosen Middle School, is an honorable mention winner for her essay about her mother. Sydney spoke of the constant support she has received from her mother as well as the times she was humbled when she became too cocky. “Most importantly, she always tells me to strive for my goals. Her guidance keeps me focused on the important things in life.”

Leighann Heim, a student at Van Hoosen Middle School, is an honorable mention winner for her essay about her piano teacher, Mrs. Katherine Hedlund. Seeing how her teacher has gone through struggles in her life, Leighann has gained the confidence to work for her goals with a positive attitude. “Mrs. Katherine Hedland shows me that being confident and positive during life’s hardships ultimately make you a better person.”

Congratulations to this year’s winners and to the other 61 students who shared their stories. The world is sure to be a better place as you move into leadership roles.

Thank you to Claire Poynter from the Rochester Hills Public Library and Jennifer Sunderhaus.from the Auburn Hills Public Library for sharing your stories about a significant woman in your life.

The eighth-grade essay contest about “A Woman of Significance to Me” is sponsored annually by the Rochester branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Students living in the Rochester and Avondale school districts are invited to submit their essays. Additional sponsors of the contest are the Rochester Hills Public Library and the Auburn Hills Public Library.

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The 2014 winners are…

Winners of the Eighth Grade Essay Contest from left to right Jonathan Li, Benjamin Person, Alex Kim, Rachel Pfarrer

Winners of the Eighth Grade Essay Contest from left to right Jonathan Li, Benjamin Person, Alex Kim, Rachel Pfarrer

The Rochester branch of the American Association of University Women announces the winners of the 2014 Eighth Grade Essay Contest.

Rachel Pfarrer, a student at Hart Middle School, is the first place winner with her essay about her mother, Michelle Pfarrer. Rachel tells of growing up with the constant support of her mom; whatever Rachel was passionate about her mom supported her. When Rachel struggled with math in middle school, her mom made it fun and they worked on it together. Rachel’s mom is her hero!

Benjamin Person, a student at Van Hoosen Middle School, is the second place winner with his essay about Mrs. Howell. Benjamin tells of entering middle school in sixth grade with no particular love of science but having his vision completely changed by the “awesome” and “great” Mrs. Howell who was able to transform her students with her passion for science.

Jonathan Li, a student at Van Hoosen Middle School, is the third place winner with his essay about Helen Keller. A host of food allergies set Jonathan apart from his peers through much of elementary school and caused him to wonder why he couldn’t be like other kids. From the life of Helen Keller he became aware of other people with disabilities and how they overcame them to lead a productive life and not just feel sorry for oneself.

Alex Kim, a student at Van Hoosen Middle School, is the winner of the Kathy Watson Memorial Award for his essay about his sister. Growing up Alex often believed, as others did, that older siblings were only there to make fun of younger siblings. Only after she left for college did Alex realize how much he had learned from her in their time after school when she drove him to activities, helped him with homework and encouraged him to achieve his goals.

The eighth-grade essay contest about “A Woman of Significance to Me” is sponsored annually by the Rochester branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Students living in the Rochester and Avondale school districts are invited to submit their essays. Additional sponsors of the contest are the Rochester Hills Public Library and the Auburn Hills Public Library.

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Presentation of Awards: Oakland University Essay Contest Winners

1st place winner, Rachel Dale; AAUW-Rochester Liaison Team, Sharon Postnieks; and 2nd place winner, Whitney Caldwell

1st place winner, Rachel Dale; AAUW-Rochester Liaison Team, Sharon Postnieks; and 2nd place winner, Whitney Caldwell

The Rochester Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) has chosen the winners of the 2013 Oakland University Essay Contest for students, “A Woman of Importance to Me.” The contest is held in honor of National Women’s History Month for March.

The purpose of the contest is to encourage both male and female students to become more aware of the important ways women have made the world a better place. The essays were 400 words or less and about a woman who is or has been an inspirational force in their lives or the lives of others.

Certificates and monetary awards were made at the WGS Annual Film Festival, on Saturday, March 16, 2013 at Oakland University Campus.

This year the Festival presented “Bully,” a documentary film that explores the violence experienced by young people. The film tells the stories of several of these children and explores how society should deal with bullying. Besides the viewing, the audience participated in an active discussion with a panel of experts from educational, legislation and medical fields.

    • 1st Place Award: Rachel S. Dale $100.00
    • 2nd Place Award: Whitney M. Caldwell $50.00
    • 3rd Place Award: Samantha Wolf $25.00
    • Honorable Mention: Jillian Tillman
    • Honorable Mention: Maryann Osinski

For more information about the AAUW Oakland University Essay Contest awards, contact Sharon Postnieks at spostnieks@yahoo.com.