By Bill Durston, MD, Vice President and Essay Contest Chairperson for PSR/Sacramento
The Sacramento Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility is pleased to announce that after a three-year hiatus occasioned by Covid related concerns, we’ll be resuming the tradition of holding our High School Scholarship Essay Contest Finals in person again this year. The prompt for this year’s contest is the following quotation from the renowned primatologist, environmentalist, and animal rights activist, Dr. Jane Goodall:
You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.
The essay contest finals luncheon is at Hilton Arden West, 2200 Harvard Street, in Sacramento, on Sunday, April 30. All are welcome. Please make reservations here Join/Donate page on the PSR/Sacramento website; scroll down to the luncheon reservation at the bottom of the page. The cost is $50 per person. Check-in and “social hour” will be from 11:30 AM-12 noon. Lunch is served at 12:00 and students’ presentations will begin about 1 PM. The program will wrap up by 2:30.
At the essay contest finals event, the 10 student finalists will present their essays orally and a distinguished panel of judges from the community will choose the first, second, and third place winners. We’ll be awarding a total of $15,000 in scholarships again this year, with all 10 finalists receiving at least $1,000, and with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners receiving $3,000, $2,500, and $2,000, respectively.
Our essay contest finals event has traditionally been one of the most inspiring and enjoyable PSR events of the year. In addition to the benefits that members of the progressive community will derive from attending the luncheon, including listening to the students’ presentations and socializing and networking with one another, we believe that it’s particularly important that we have a good turnout this year in order to affirm the importance of the views expressed by this year’s finalists, who are members of a generation of students who have been subjected to unprecedented isolation during their high school careers.
This is the 19th consecutive year that we’ve hosted the PSR/Sacramento High School Scholarship Essay Contest, and with this year’s awards, we will have given over $240,000 in scholarships to deserving high school seniors thanks to the generosity of our supporters, who include not only health care professionals, but also many other members of the greater Sacramento progressive community. The prompts for past essay contests are appended below, and the winning essays from past years are posted on the High School Essay Contest page of the PSR/Sacramento website. We believe that the essay contest is an important way of fostering and rewarding critical thinking on the important issues of our time among high school age youth, and we believe that anyone who reads some of the past essays – and particularly, anyone who attends this year’s essay contest finals luncheon – will agree.
Quotations Used in Past PSR/Sacramento Essay Contests
2005: “War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today.” John F. Kennedy
2006: “Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.” Martin Luther King
2007: “We can bomb the world to pieces, but we can’t bomb it into peace.” Michael Franti
2008: “War is a racket with the profits reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.” Maj. General Smedley Butler
2009: “We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” Albert Einstein
2010: “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Native American Proverb
2011: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” President Dwight Eisenhower
2012: “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis
2013: “Firearm regulations, to include bans of handguns and assault weapons, are the most effective way to reduce firearm related injuries.” American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention, April 2000
2014: “Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela
2015: “The world is over-armed, and peace is under-funded.” United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
2016: “Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.” The 14th Dalai Lama
2017: “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
2018: “The connection between women’s human rights, gender equality, socioeconomic development, and peace is increasingly apparent.” Mahnaz Afkhami
2019: “We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.” President Barack Obama
2020: Peace is not only the absence of war. As long as there is poverty, racism, discrimination, and exclusion, we’ll be hard-pressed to achieve a world of peace. Rigoberta Menchu Tum
2021: “The story of nuclear weapons will have an ending, and it is up to us what that ending will be. Will it be the end of nuclear weapons, or will it be the end of us?” Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
2022: “Americans cannot teach democracy to the world until they restore their own.” William Greider