Rsa Essay Contest 2016

2017-2018 Student Essay Contest

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis announces the 30th Annual Student Essay Contest open to all high school students in the Ninth Federal Reserve District.

2017-2018 Question:

Should the federal government increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour?

Topic Primer

Writing Guide

Contest Rules and Submission Information


Thirty student finalists will receive $100. In addition, a first-, second- and third-place winner will be selected. The third-place winner will receive an additional $200, and the second-place winner will receive an additional $300. The first-place winner will receive an additional $400 and a paid summer internship at the Minneapolis Fed during the summer of 2019. The winning essays will be published online.

Teachers with one or more students who are selected as finalists will receive a $100 cash prize.

Contest Timetable

Student essays due

April 20, 2018

Finalists announced

May 4, 2018

Awards Program at Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

May 18, 2018

If you have any questions, email or call 612-204-5168.

Essay Contest Archive

Congratulations to our winners and thank you all for participating. Happy DNA Day!

Thank you for making this our most successful year yet! We received a record high number of submissions from students in 44 U.S. states and 23 foreign countries, including Colombia, Antarctica, New Zealand, and Ukraine. We would also like to thank the more than 400 ASHG members who participated in judging the essays, as well as our sponsor for this year's contest, Embi Tec, creator of the MiniOne System for real time electrophoresis in the classroom!

2016 Winners

Click the names below to view essay excerpts.

Stella Ma


Grade 11 ($1,000)

Teacher: Cindy Kellor

James Madison Memorial High School

Madison, WI


Jillian Pesce


Grade 11 ($600)

Teacher: Maria Zeitlin

Smithtown High School East

St. James, NY


Alexis Schneider


Grade 11 ($400)

Teacher: Megan Gallagher

Upper Dublin High School

Fort Washington, PA


Dhruv Sharma


Grade 11 ($400)

Teacher: Pippa Haley

United World College of South East Asia, Dover Campus

Singapore, SG


Ilan Bocain
Yeshiva University of Los Angeles,
Boys High School
Los Angeles, CA
Teacher: Vickie Bellomo Zanzan Brink
Oregon Health & Sciences University Partnership for Scientific Inquiry Program
Portland, OR
Teacher: Richard Rosenbaum Sanjana Eranki
Smithtown High School East
St. James, NY
Teacher: Maria Zeitlin

Norah Gordon
Bergen County Academies
Hackensack, NJ
Teacher: Carol ZepatosZoe Klein
Northern Secondary School
Toronto, ON
Teacher: Danielle GauciStacy Okin
North Shore Hebrew Academy High School
Great Neck, NY
Teacher: Amie Roberts Elizabeth Phelan
The Davidson Academy of Nevada
Reno, NV
Teacher: Martin Braik

Sarah Sachar
Winston Churchill High School
Potomac, MD
Teacher: Virginia BrownArjun Somayazulu
Oregon Health & Sciences University Partnership for Scientific Inquiry Program
Portland, OR
Teacher: Richard Rosenbaum Ruojia Sun
Stuyvesant High School
New York, NY
Teacher: Maria Nedwidek-Moore

About the Contest

The contest aims to challenge students to examine, question, and reflect on important ideas and issues related to human genetics. Competitive essays are expected to convey substantive, well-reasoned, and evidence-based arguments that demonstrate deep understanding.

Essays are evaluated through three rounds of judging, and every essay is read by a minimum of three judges. Top-scoring essays have typically been scored by a dozen or more judges. 

Questions/Comments: Contact

2016 Question

Choose a genetic test that is currently available for a condition or disease that does not cause symptoms until adulthood
(i.e., an adult-onset condition such as hereditary breast cancer). Describe how the test works and how certain the test results are. Then, either defend or refute the recommendation below from ASHG’s recent position statement on pediatric genetic testing.

"Adolescents should be encouraged to defer predictive or pre-dispositional testing for adult-onset conditions until adulthood because of the complexity of the potential impact of the information at formative life stages."

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