Halloween Express Fall 2018 Scholarship Contest

We're sorry. Our annual Scholarship Contest has been suspended for 2020. Check back with us in 2021. Thank you to everyone who participated previously.

FALL HALLOWEEN 2019 ESSAY CONTEST IS HERE! Each year we sponsor a scholarship essay contest in the fall. Contest winners are posted on our website here and promoted on our social media pages. Previous contest winners and their essays appear at the bottom of this page. Our scholarship contest is open to all fields of study for students who are at least 18 years of age or older and have been accepted to an accredited post secondary undergraduate program or college located in the United States for the specified school year. The program can be a two or four year vocational, college or university. Financial need is not a consideration for this scholarship. The best overall submission will be determined and judged by the Halloween Express team. Our scholarship essay contest encourages recent high school grads or college students to examine America's history and pop-culture along with their own experiences by submitting a 500 to 2500 word essay expressing their views on the contest topic. The best overall submission will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship. For details, rules and terms and conditions, read on. This is not a loan. This is a FREE scholarship. There is NO FEE and no purchase requirement.   


Topic: Our topic from last fall was so popular, we're going to use it again!

In recent years there's been a lot of debate about Halloween costume standards. Some cities have banned or at least strongly discouraged certain types of costumes such as clown costumes. Some costume retailers have faced outrage from various groups protesting certain ethnic or religious dress costumes (e.g. Native American costumes). And there are groups who protest the selling of costumes which in their view either glorify violence (e.g. military costumes) or are overly sexual. The fall ritual of dressing up in costume and trick-or-treating seems particularly challenging for college campuses where some university administrations have gone as far as to issue warnings about costume choices. 

Are the standards for Halloween costumes changing? Or, are these protests simply one more example of some who want to force their point of view on others?    Are there some costumes which should be off-limits? If so, what are those costumes?  And, who gets to decide what those limits are? Why? Is freedom of expression no longer relevant?  Have we reached the point at which we're being conditioned to be offended by everything we see and hear? What type of costume did you wear last year? What will you wear this year? 

Give us your perspective and then defend your point of view. The best essay will win $1000! 

Entry Period: October 1 - 31, 2019      

Scholarship Eligibility

Our scholarship contest is open to all fields of study for students who are at least 18 years of age by the entry deadline and have been accepted to an accredited post secondary undergraduate program or college located in the United States for the stated school years. The program can be a two or four year vocational, college or university. Financial need is not a consideration for this scholarship.

How to Enter

Submit your essay along with the information requested using the ONLINE FORM available on this page. You will be asked to provide some personal information. All information provided will be used only to compete in this contest. We will never sell or give away your information to anyone, ever. Essay must be submitted by the entry deadline specified in the scholarship contest period. All entries must use the online form. Entries cannot be accepted any other way. Only one essay per person (based on email) will be accepted.

Funding Award

The winner will receive the scholarship funds directly via Paypal. If you don't have a Paypal account, it only takes a few minutes to set one up and it's free.

The Essay

Essays must be typed in English, have no less than 500 words and cannot exceed 2,500 words. All essays will be judged by the Halloween Express panel. Essay will be judged based on the knowledge of the theme, development of the theme and clarity of the ideas presented. Write your essay in an easy-to-understand format. Leave the reader with a clear understanding of your explanation and thought process of the theme. The essay must be the contestant's original work and a product of the contestant's own thinking. The approach to the essay theme should be positive and clearly focused. Poetry is not acceptable. Quotations may be used sparingly if plainly identified wherever used.

All entries subject to our  privacy policy. Scholarship program subject to  these terms and conditions.

Not a student? Even if you don't qualify to enter our essay contest, you can still save money on your Halloween costume. Halloween Express has more costumes in more styles and sizes than anyone. So whether you're a student on a budget looking for a cheap costume or a mom in search of this year's cutest costumes for kids, we hope you'll consider Halloween Express.

Halloween Express FALL 2019 Scholarship Winner - Heather S. / Boise, ID (Boise State University)

December 12, 2019: Congratulations to Heather from Boise, ID! Heather is the winner of our FALL 2019 Scholarship Essay Contest.

Essay Theme: In recent years there's been a lot of debate about Halloween costume standards. Some cities have banned or at least strongly discouraged certain types of costumes such as clown costumes. Some costume retailers have faced outrage from various groups protesting certain ethnic or religious dress costumes (e.g. Native American costumes). And there are groups who protest the selling of costumes which in their view either glorify violence (e.g. military costumes) or are overly sexual. The fall ritual of dressing up in costume and trick-or-treating seems particularly challenging for college campuses where some university administrations have gone as far as to issue warnings about costume choices. 

Are the standards for Halloween costumes changing? Or, are these protests simply one more example of some who want to force their point of view on others? Are there some costumes which should be off-limits? If so, what are those costumes? And, who gets to decide what those limits are? Why? Is freedom of expression no longer relevant? Have we reached the point at which we're being conditioned to be offended by everything we see and hear? What type of costume did you wear last year? What will you wear this year? 

Here is Heather's essay:

The dead were coming.  The sun was setting low in the sky as the villagers shuffled into the center square, eagerly anticipating the night to come.  The bonfires were being built; their flames so high they could have licked the stars.  The desperate bleating of a sheep rang out in the darkness, and the Druids foretold the future from its' fresh blood.  The villagers, young and old, all clad in animal bones and skins, took turns throwing their sacrifices into the flames in the hopes that the mischievous spirits of the dead would spare their crops and leave them in peace during the desolate winter months to come.

While this may sound like the opening scene from a cheesy horror flick, this is how Samhain, or Halloween got its start two thousand years ago.  Those people were wearing flesh and bone as a way to hide from, and scare away potentially dangerous spirits.  It was part of their survival.  The Celts were not concerned with what was appropriate. They were too concerned with warding off the literal Dead. 

Today, the idea of Halloween is fanciful and frivolous.  Trick or Treating happens out of the back of a minivan.  Children worship the almighty candy bar.  The costumes are mass produced by strangers, and the only mischief grownups worry about is a few smashed pumpkins and some eggs on the garage.  While everyone makes corny jokes about ghouls and goblins, no one genuinely believes they are in real danger of any.  So how did we get here?

Romans, Christians, Protestants, Native Americans, and even immigrating potato farmers in the nineteenth century have all put their own spin on Halloween.  In the early twentieth century, it was even encouraged by the media of the time to remove anything ghoulish or unsettling from Halloween celebrations on a local level.  Each time the holiday has been altered, it has been to reflect the culture and times of those celebrating it.  Evolution of a practice is common and normal, but how far can it, or should it go before it becomes something else entirely?  With each passing year, that line becomes thinner and thinner, and the evolution of this particular celebration is having unforeseen consequences on how people view the world around them; primarily reflected in our costume choices.

I dressed up as Dr. Frankenfurter last year.  When I went to a party downtown, people were worried about me because I was wearing something so revealing.  The flaw in that is thinking that my clothing would influence whether or not the people around me would be dangerous.  If the people around me had been dangerous, I could have been wearing a beekeeper suit, and it would not have invited any less calamity, but when costumes like that are banned it creates an attitude of victim shaming.  It teaches both men and women that if they dress in a suggestive manner, they are asking for trouble and deserve it when trouble finds them.  That attitude gives predators a pass that they should never receive.

That same level of regulation has also befallen any costume that glorifies violence.  This includes everything from classic movie villains to the portrayal of military or uniformed officers.  Neither of which is a fair metric to judge violence in our society.  To ban violent costumes sends the message that the people wearing them are violent.  It promotes an unnecessary fear of others, and on a deeper level, promotes fear in what those costumes represent. The person dressed as a tube of toothpaste is just as prone to violent behavior as the person dressed as a Navy SEAL, but by restricting one over the other, all it has really done is generate distrust of soldiers on a subconscious level.  Over time, people learn to fear what they are told to.  Even if it was originally something that they trusted. 

Then there are those costumes that get banned for being just too darn scary; the costumes that deliberately trigger fear.  To those I say Thank you!  Those terrifying little gems are the only things giving Halloween any kind of valid authenticity these days.  Yes, they do a great job of inspiring nightmares and making our skin crawl, but on a deeper level, they teach people to face their fears.  To ban them is to discourage...courage. 

The definition of brainwashing is the process of pressuring someone into adopting radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible means.  That sounds pretty intense when it is applied to the subject of Halloween costumes, but it is the correct answer to the previous question how did we get here?  Brainwashing; two thousand years of countless cultural interferences that have trickled down into a time where we even need to have this discussion at all.   If people do not start paying attention to the subtle changes that limit creativity and individuality, how many more years will it be before we are all choosing our costumes off a list that has been accepted and approved to be socially appropriate? How many years after that before anything different is considered inappropriate, and we are so regulated that our own individuality is just as dead as those old Celtic ghosts?

Halloween Express FALL 2018 Scholarship Winner - Kaitlin A. / Newberry, FL

Nov 15, 2018: Congratulations to Kaitlin from Newberry, FL! Kaitlin is the winner of our FALL 2018 Scholarship Essay Contest.

Essay Theme: In recent years there's been a lot of debate about Halloween costume standards. Some cities have banned or at least strongly discouraged certain types of costumes such as clown costumes. Some costume retailers have faced outrage from various groups protesting certain ethnic or religious dress costumes (e.g. Native American costumes). And there are groups who protest the selling of costumes which in their view either glorify violence (e.g. military costumes) or are overly sexual. The fall ritual of dressing up in costume and trick-or-treating seems particularly challenging for college campuses where some university administrations have gone as far as to issue warnings about costume choices. 

Are the standards for Halloween costumes changing? Or, are these protests simply one more example of some who want to force their point of view on others? Are there some costumes which should be off-limits? If so, what are those costumes? And, who gets to decide what those limits are? Why? Is freedom of expression no longer relevant? Have we reached the point at which we're being conditioned to be offended by everything we see and hear? What type of costume did you wear last year? What will you wear this year? 

Here is Kaitlin's essay:

Candy tastes better with a little fear on top. At least it does in my experience. As a kid, I skipped down the curly roads of my neighborhood with my dad's hand in mine. But my soon to be cavity filled smile dissipated when I saw it. It was a house not like the others. The lights were off and the door was cracked open. On the doorframe twiddled nothing but a set of horrifying monster claws.

"Go on," my dad told me. I protested, but went anyway after much convincing. I thought I would be eaten for sure, but instead of a horrible monster popping out, a happy man greeted me.

"You take as much candy as you want. You were the only one brave enough to come up here!"

As my sugar high subsided and sleep threatened that night, I replayed images of my harrowing adventure over and over.

Experiences like these will no longer be possible if the recent trends of costume regulation continue. The standards for costumes are changing. When I was a kid, scary costumes that included monster claws were normal. But now, at many college campuses and fall festivals, scary costumes are discouraged or prohibited. These rules have been put in place to discourage violent or inappropriate behavior, but have come at the cost of self-expression. Last year, I dressed up as sushi and this year, I'll dress up as a giraffe. Both of these are fairly innocuous costumes, but that doesn't mean that others should be forced to dress up like me. In our click bait culture, Americans are becoming conditioned to be offended before appreciating self-expression. The beauty of Halloween is that it belongs to the creative, and banning certain costumes are killing that spirit.

The first way that costume regulation hurts imagination is that it blames a complex problem on something superficial. Those in favor of banning certain costumes think that it prevents the glorification of violence. While this theory looks reasonable on paper, it doesn't hold up in the dynamic world in which we live. Banning violent Halloween attire is like saying that a serial who wore a red shirt should mean that red shirts should be banned. The issue is not dress, but intention and action. What most people enjoy about scary costumes is the adrenaline rush that comes from those who are frightened by them, not by the idea of violence.

In addition to superficial solutions, dress restrictions for Halloween are contributing to our click bait culture as Americans. Thanks to online news sources and cultural climate, we are training ourselves to be offended by what we see rather than celebrating creative expression. The joy of the human experience comes from the truth that we are each made differently, so it is natural to want to reflect this reality in how we dress. As a community, we have to change our focus from extremist stances to appreciating individuals, even if we don't agree with every decision they make.

No costumes on Halloween should be off limits. We as individuals ought to decide what is and what is not appropriate, not the media. Since a singular person chooses their own costume, no conglomerate entity should dictate what people should wear. The only time costume restrictions are admissible is when businesses allow their employees to dress up for the holiday. Since employees are considered a part of one cooperate entity, businesses should reserve the right to veto some costumes for the sake of professionalism. But in all other instances, individuals should reserve the right to express themselves however they see fit.

Finally, costume restrictions reduce the holiday to another American convention. Holidays have come to represent a break from the ordinary. However, putting extensive restrictions on who can wear what puts Halloween in the same family as a school assignment or a work report, with lists of specific requirements and prohibitions. Putting costumes on the banned rack encourages kids to think robotically about dress up, instead of dreaming up things that walk the edge of sanity. Instead, we must let Halloween be expressed without demands to color in the lies.

Halloween celebrates childlike behavior. Streets are lined with sweets, gourds are etched with smiles, and the sky rains leaves. All throughout neighborhoods children run about dressed as creatures previously only existing in storybooks, but for one night, they all are real. So let's quit trying to stop real violence with superficial dress codes. Let's click away from the click bait culture and realize that we don't have to like everything, but we also don't have to prohibit everything either. Let's take a break from the normal and become adventurous kids again. I believe that allowing full freedom of expression when it comes to Halloween costumes will lead to more experiences like the one I had as an eight year old. Deciding your own costume gives you the power to face your fears, even when that fear is a monster claw on the edge of a door frame.

Halloween Express FALL 2017 Scholarship Winner - Dominic N. / Tuskegee, AL

Oct 25, 2017: Congratulations to Dominic from Tuskegee, AL! He's the winner of our FALL 2017 Scholarship Contest.

Essay Theme: With October being National Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog month, share a story or memory about a dog you know/knew, the impact the dog had on you and whether or not the dog is/was an adopted shelter dog. Here is Dominic's essay:

After my best friend, Alex, died last year I was completely heartbroken. We had been friends since birth as our mothers had served in the Air Force together. After they was honorably discharged they decided to both relocate to Magnolia Springs, Alabama. Our town was too quiet and slow for two young boys ready to take on the world together. However, as an army of two, we found adventure in the dullest of places. For Halloween, we would often spend from weeks to months preparing pranks to scare our unsuspecting victims; every year our pranks improved!

Alex was the creative type and I managed the details. His energy and excitement helped me develop confidence in myself that I would have never have uncovered without him. I am naturally an introvert and often shy away from challenges. If it wasn't for Alex I wouldn't be in college today. I was content with my limited surroundings but that all changed during my Junior year of High School. We made promises to each other that we would continue the legacy our parents had established defending our country and enroll in the reserve army training corps to continue our amazing adventure together.

A few years later, our mothers were proud as we continued to demonstrate a fearless passion for all endeavors in College. On September 12, 2015, our dreams met a huge hurdle as Alex was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer. As always, he was optimistic and fearless, unfortunately I was not as courageous. I never understood how it was so easy for him to always smile even as his condition worsened. Roughly a year later, my best friend took his last breath and I had no desire to exist anymore. Continuing college was a distant thought and I returned to my natural shell.

Magnolia Springs also felt a wave of energy leave our town. I believe they still expected me to continue our traditional Halloween pranks but I just couldn't. Just as soon as one tragedy started another followed as our town was struck by severe weather that devastated everything. Most importantly precious crop and buildings were destroyed and people were hurt.

That day the town was torn apart was a special day in my life because I found my friend again. While I was aiding the rescue crew our community had put together I had stumbled across a peculiar sound; Scratching and whining beneath untouched rubble of an abandoned barn. Consequently, I hauled the planks of wood to uncover the mystery. I had found the most beautiful chocolate Collie with one blue eye and one brown eye pleading for aid. She had no collar and look as if she had been homeless for a while. I immediately feel in love with her. I felt she understood me, that she was alone just like I was.

Although, I subconsciously hoped she had been abandoned so that I could keep her; I thought the responsible thing to do would be to take her to the nearest shelter in case someone had lost their adorable friend. For the following two days I visited with mixed emotions of excitement and uncertainty. I was ecstatic that in visiting my new friend my light was rekindled but also never knew if she would be there the following day. The veterinarian advised me that I if nobody claims her the following morning that I should adopt her otherwise she will be euthanized.

I woke up the following morning with more energy than I had ever felt since Alex had passed away. I felt his spirit serge through me and find refuge in the chocolate Collie that I had recused not too long ago. Surprisingly, nobody had claimed her which had provided me with the opportunity to find my happiness again. I adopted her, and named her Alexandria after my best friend.

It's unbelievable the change that occurred in me through my connection with Alexandria over the years. I began to thrive in leadership positions in the reserve officers training corps and my story empowered the other cadets going through their own personal challenges. I will always remember the impact Alex had on me through Alexandria and I am forever grateful to her for entering my life.

Halloween Express WINTER / SPRING 2017 Scholarship Winner - Bailey A / Myersville, MD

July 1, 2017: Congratulations to Bailey from Myersville, MD! She's the winner of our Winter/Spring 2017 Scholarship Contest. Bailey submitted her essay on the topic of 'How did your favorite Superhero influence your childhood and what does he/she represent to you then and now?'. Bailey is attending Towson University.

Here is Bailey's essay:

Of all the heroes that we fabricate in society, Spiderman is one of the most admirable. He is not invincible. Yet, with hard work and dedication he gets the job accomplished. We look to super beings as the perfect disposition, perhaps to affirm the qualities that we lack. Spiderman saves and gives us hope when we need it. Unpretentiously, he is gracious for his gifts, using them to benefit others without seeking recognition.

While most come to know Spiderman through books and television, I have come to know him through my cousin, Adam. From childhood to his adult years, Adam battled cancer. He lived with my family, modestly sharing his gifts. Throughout his seven bouts of osteosarcoma, his visits to St. Jude's were frequent and lengthy. Adam deflected his pain by dressing up like Spiderman and spending time with the sick children at the hospital. His stories inspired me at a young age not to take what I have for granted and to use the gifts that I have to help and comfort others.

As a ten year old, I dreamed of becoming a Supreme Court Justice because it would allow me to be fair and just. Although my aspiration has slightly changed, my desire to work for the good of others is still present. Adam became a super hero to me. Like Adam, I have reached out to others in need through various projects, camps, and retreats, growing along the way by serving others. From teaching children to renovating buildings, I have become a more compassionate person.

Spiderman embodies leadership, while remaining humble. He is the first person to respond to a situation. Similarly, Adam was the first to congratulate me, explain difficult concepts in school to me, and be there for me, despite his own battles. Adam taught me to put others first, which became crucial in my life as a big sister, knowing my words and actions influence my siblings.

What Spiderman and Adam have taught me is to demonstrate modesty and humility. From my sisters and friends to strangers and teachers, I can implement this in the simplest ways.

To be the hero that I see in Spiderman will come with great responsibility. Metaphorically, I will soar through the air, setting my sights high. I will scale skyscrapers, reaching my goals. My identity hidden behind a mask will give me the power to do whatever I please, while knowing what is expected of me. I will be the hope that others need in their darkest hours. They will want to epitomize me, but I will give of myself without recognition.

Halloween Express HOLIDAY 2016 Scholarship Winner - Kali R / Evanston, IL

Jan 3, 2017: Congratulations to Kali from Evanston, IL! She's the winner of our HOLIDAY 2016 Scholarship Contest. Kali submitted her essay on the topic of 'What Christmas Means to Me'. Kali is attending Northwestern University. 

Here is Kali's essay:

Let the record show that not once has my family ever been described as "festive." Sure, every year we go through the motions of Christmas: We get a tree (usually plastic), stick a few Santas, reindeer, or snowmen around the house, watch some holiday movies, and call it Christmas. Apart from some last-minute gift shopping and obligatory decorating, day-to-day life doesn't change for my family around the holidays. It's not particularly magical, nor is it steeped in tradition or holiday cheer, and yet it's my favorite time of year. Why? Because I'm guaranteed to be with my family, and that's more than enough.

At my university, where I battle the dreaded beast known as Sophomore Year, I rallied at the very idea of Christmas. When the most grueling of exams and extracurricular duties tried to overpower me, the shrillest carol on the radio or the most obnoxious holiday TV commercial raised my spirits from the depths of collegiate despair, reminding me that I'd be home for Christmas and in the arms of the ones I love most. Now that I'm in college, Christmas is one of the few times I see my family. Christmas is a promise of togetherness, and it is a promise we keep year after year.

When I was little, I thought Christmas was about the presents, but now I don't care if I receive one gift or one million. I don't care if I'm given nothing at all, because after being at school most of the year, even during the summer, I think the real gift is going home. My family's Christmases are not catalogue-worthy, and yet they are perfect beyond compare. Each year holds something new. Perhaps we'll see a movie, or eat at one of the few restaurants that isn't closed. Or maybe we'll watch A Christmas Story and cook a feast with enough leftovers to keep us satisfied all week. We don't bake cookies for Santa anymore, but we still bake them just for us to share. Whatever we do, we do it together.

We do have one tradition. It's small, but unwavering. A lot of kids got to open one present on Christmas Eve, and I was no exception. Now I'm 19 years old, and this year I'll still unwrap a small present by the glow of the Christmas tree's multi-colored lights the night before Christmas. These days, the element of surprise is all but gone as far as gifts go, and my wish list could fit on a Post-It note. But opening that one present is a tradition that has remained unchanged after more than a dozen Christmases, and it's comforting to look forward to something constant in my life.

So my family Christmases aren't going to win any awards for tradition or festivity. Some holidays have been happier than others. I have weathered Christmases after a loved one has passed, and sometimes giving gifts strained our finances. But in spite of everything, Christmas is the only holiday that holds any sentimental meaning for me. It's a day when our only obligations are to each other, and as long as I'm with the ones I love, it is sure to be the most wonderful time of the year.

Halloween Express FALL 2016 Scholarship Winner - Rachel B / New Berlin, WI

Nov 1, 2016: Congratulations to Rachel from New Berlin, WI! She's the winner of our Fall 2016 Scholarship Contest. Rachel submitted her essay on the topic of 'What Autumn Means to Me'. Rachel is attending Marquette University. 

Here is Rachel's essay:

The smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls and warm, home-brewed, spiced coffee rouses me from a deep slumber. As I slip out of bed into my slippers, I feel a slight nip in the air. Slowly, I make my way into the kitchen to find not only the cinnamon rolls and coffee, but also a beautiful cornucopia filled with squash, mini pumpkins, and other various fall treasures resting on the table. Finally,…it is autumn.

When I was little, autumn meant soccer games and pizza parties; piles of leaves and pumpkin patches; Halloween and continuous occurrences of the classic "Booing" game; and, of course, candy! Now, I view autumn as the season of haunted houses and football games; the season of fashionable clothing; the season of endless Instagram photograph backgrounds; and, how could I forget, the season of pumpkin spice lattes. Although my feelings surrounding autumn are still relevant, I believe that it has so much more to offer us than just the newest boots or best pumpkin pie recipe. Autumn, to me, is the season of family and giving.

Giving back and spending time with others invokes a feeling of satisfaction inside of me, something that is spurred with the onset of autumn. Each year, no matter how hectic my schedule may become, my dad and I make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, my mom and I make homemade apple sauce, and my brother and I volunteer our time sorting food for the St. Vincent DePaul Society's annual Thanksgiving drive. Though the spirit of giving rushes through me every season of the year, autumn tends to create a tangible feeling of giving inside of me. Every October, I fervently await the smiling faces that rush to my door as I hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. I look forward to coming home to play with my dog in the leaves outside. I even eagerly embrace raking leaves outside, for I get to spend time with my family while also helping out my parents and neighbors.

In my experience, fall seems to bring out the best in people, yet so many people view fall as the "season where everything is dying." Contradicting this common saying, I believe that autumn gives people the opportunity to grow. We are able to grow in our relationships with our friends and family, to grow in the ways in which we give back to those around us, and to grow simply by enjoying everything our world has to offer us. The next time someone asks you to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with them, say yes. The next time someone wants to carve a pumpkin with you, say yes. The next time someone wants you to dress ridiculously for a Halloween party, say yes. Who knows, by saying yes, autumn could open a whole new world of giving. Remember, giving is not something that needs to cost money or take up a lot of time. It is something that brings us together, and for me, that togetherness is fulfilled throughout the entirety of autumn.

Halloween Express SUMMER 2016 Scholarship Winner - Mataya L / Warrensburg Missouri

May 13, 2016: Congratulations to Mataya from Warrensburg, MO! She's the winner of our SUMMER 2016 Scholarship Contest. Mataya submitted her essay on the topic of 'What does Democratic Socialism mean to you AND is it good for America?'. Mataya is attending St. Luke's College of Health Sciences. 

Here is Mataya's essay:

Webster's Dictionary defines democracy as, "a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting" and socialism as, "a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies". Despite popular belief our government is not a democracy. In order for our government to be a complete democracy, everyone of legal age would have to vote on every law and legislation passed. This type of government was most successful back in ancient Greece but would not be successful for the United States. Instead, our government is a republic. We vote for representatives who then vote for our state. Bernie Sanders often uses Denmark as the Utopian society and the type of government he would like to bring to the United States. However, Denmark's type of government would never work in the United States for many reasons. While it is great in theory it has not worked for countries with large populations in the past. Russia tried socialism after WWI but it later branched into communism. The United States population is too large for socialism to work. Socialism is successful in Denmark because they have a small population of 5.6 million compared to the United States population of 322.7 million.

The second reason why democratic socialism would never work in the United States is because of our diversity and demographics. The United States used to have the title the "mixing pot" with the belief that settlers from different countries would give up their cultures and everyone would act the same. This did not happen. Instead of "melting" all the cultures together to create one, they were mixed together like a big salad bowl. While the majority of the United States speaks English, people with different ethnic backgrounds still choose to use their native languages even if it is just in their homes. This is very different compared to Denmark, with more than ninety percent having Danish ancestry. This is important for democratic socialism to work because studies show that ethnic groups share many of the same beliefs which affect the way they think and vote. Lars Christensen, a Danish economist, was quoted saying, "Maybe if you wanted to introduce such a scheme in Utah, you could do that. But doing it across the U.S., I find it completely and utterly impossible just for the mere fact that Americans are all so different." I completely agree with Christensen. If the people from the United States shared the same demographics then democratic socialism would be more of a possibility but our country has many ethnicities.

If democratic socialism was introduced in America I fear that it would cause great uproars. Since, the United States demographics are so diverse, it is impossible to get everyone to agree with the change in our governmental structure. Many people would go on strike and others would probably be killed. I also believe that the transfer of wealth would also cause our economy to crash. I strongly believe that the only type of government that will be successful is the government we have now, a capitalist republic. Our society is very market driven and would not adjust well to all receiving the same things. Americans want to have choices on what brands they buy and how much they spend for that item. If Bernie Sanders was to become president and change our current government system our country and economy would fail.

Although, I like the idea of free college, nothing is ever free. Denmark is only able to offer free tuition to their students because of the high taxes that the citizens pay. The taxes in Denmark double and sometimes even triple what Americans pay. Because college is not free in the United States, I do have a large tuition fee to cover. Federal Direct Loans will cover approximately one half of the tuition amount for St. Luke's College. I will have to take out additional loans to cover the remaining one half tuition, as well as, living expenses and books/supplies.

Halloween Express Fall 2015 Scholarship Winner - Erika P / Provo, Utah

Dec 1, 2015: Congratulations to Erika P. from Provo, UT! She's the winner of our Fall 2015 Scholarship Contest. Erika submitted her essay on the topic of 'Is American Exceptional'? Erika is attending Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. 

Here is Erika's essay:

As a person who has had much exposure to the conditions of other countries, I am convinced that America truly is exceptional and that we should appreciate and celebrate the great opportunity that has been given us to live here. I believe that schools should teach children to be proud of American exceptionalism and also allow them to be aware of and sympathetic to the conditions of others that are less fortunate. Those who would denigrate the idea of American exceptionalism simply do not understand what it truly means. As a nation, we have never declared that we are better than anyone else. We believe that the founding principles of freedom can lift all people, everywhere. American exceptionalism is rooted in our founding documents. No country had ever been founded on principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. No other country had ever put so much trust and promise in the hands of the people. The freedom and liberty guaranteed by our founding documents opened the floodgates of invention, ingenuity, creativity and prosperity beyond what the world had ever known.

A year ago, I returned from living for almost two years in Chile. I loved the people, the food and the beautiful landscapes, but many things I saw made me grateful to be a citizen of the United States of America. The longer I lived in Chile, the more I realized how much I had taken for granted growing up in America. . Chile, although presently considered one of, if not the most, advanced countries of Latin America, is very different from America. The older generation still remembers the terror of Communist rule, and tensions with neighboring countries are constantly running high. Frequent strikes by state-run organizations delayed visas and passport processes, brought mail services to a halt and even left the streets of Santiago under piles of trash. During my time in Chile, I met many people that had left their countries to escape even worse conditions such as failing economies, corrupt governments, and violence.

Outside of my experience in South America, I currently major in Middle Eastern studies and have learned much about the way of life for people in that conflict-stricken region. The news has recently revealed the atrocities of ISIS, the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe, escalating conflict in Israeli-Palestinian relations and the disastrous stampede during the pilgrimage to Mecca this year. As I have studied this region, I have grown to love and appreciate the language, culture, and religion. I have also grown more aware of why there are wars, uprisings and conflicts. Failed attempts to implement democracy, corrupt governments and extreme economic decline has made life very difficult for many people in the Middle East.

American Exceptionalism: Is America Exceptional?

Here in America we are fortunate enough to be able to exercise freedom of speech and not fear for our lives. Young people have many educational opportunities and are free to express themselves. The economy, though sometimes up and down, consistently fares better than that of other countries facing extreme inflation and other economic crises. There are two main reasons that America enjoys these exceptional qualities. The first is our constitution that protects our rights and freedoms. The second is the commitment of the American people to elect leaders that uphold and protect the constitution. If we lose sight of these things that made this country exceptional, we could very well be facing many of the problems that plague other countries.

For this reason, I think it is very important for American children to be taught that they live in an exceptional country and that no other country in the world affords the same rights, opportunities and prosperity. However, I also think that it is important for schools to teach about conditions in other countries. With greater global awareness, young Americans will not only be able to better recognize the blessings they have, they will be able to recognize the role and responsibility they have in keeping America exceptional.

I feel like America will only be truly exceptional as long as its people recognize what it is. Many are quick to frown on exceptionalism, because they feel like it makes Americans put themselves on a pedestal and look down on other people. I believe that recognizing the exceptionalism of America allows us to appreciate what we have and sympathize with those less fortunate. Just as important as acknowledging the exceptionalism of America is recognizing that it is not something set in stone, it is something that we can lose as other great civilizations in the past which have risen and fallen. We must protect and preserve our freedoms, by teaching American exceptionalism in our schools. We should encourage young people to learn the importance of participating in government by voting, expressing their views and above all protecting their constitutional rights. And thus, the rising generation will be able promote and even increase the things that make America exceptional and it will continue to be a beacon of hope to the other countries of the world.

Halloween Express Summer 2015 Scholarship Winner - Jessica S / Clearwater, Florida

July 17, 2015: Congratulations to Jessica S. from Clearwater, FL! She's the winner of our Summer 2015 Scholarship Contest. Jessica submitted her essay on the topic of 'What Freedom Means to Me'. Jessica is attending Florida Gulf Coast University in the fall. 

Here is Jessica's essay:

Coming to America from a Communist background at one year of age, I did not realize the wonderful gift my adopted parents had given me. My life would have been dramatically different if I had grown up in China. In America, freedom provides everyone with a choice. Personally, freedom means I can express my faith, and set personal goals, knowing that with hard work and determination I will be able to achieve my highest potential. The government does not dictate what job I can ascend to, what god I must follow, or what the future will hold for me.

In China, women are not seen as equal, unlike in America where everyone has the same opportunities. If I want to be a Senator, the President, or a stay-at-home mom, it is my decision. In the fall, I will be majoring in Business Marketing and plan on opening my own business. Because I live in a democracy, I am able to establish a business, without government's absolute control (socialism). We are not judged by the color of our skin, the political party we support, or the gender to which we were born.

Freedom means sharing my religious beliefs without being oppressed. Coming from a Christian background I have different values than some. In many other countries people are persecuted for sharing their thoughts, their holy books, and meeting together for worship. I, on the other hand, am able to go on missions trips, pick the church that suits me, speak openly about my convictions to others (and they to me) without interference or threat of punishment.

I am able to choose what college I want to go to and how far I want to take my academic career. The sky is the limit for those with freedom to pursue higher education, including achieving a Ph.D. and going onto teach others. In contrast, I can choose not to go to college but enter right into the workforce and pursue my dreams, make my own money, and save for a house or car.

When I decide the time is right, I can marry the person that I choose, and he can be from any socioeconomic background, be of any race or religion, and of any age.

Freedom has given me endless opportunities to express my personality, but I need to remember the many lives were lost fighting for America's freedom. There are two popular sayings "freedom isn't free" and "freedom doesn't come cheap". Getting an American education meant learning about the Revolutionary War in which colonists felt leaving England and going to war for an independent New World was worth their very lives. We followed war after war in which America stood up to protect the rights of others in various countries, knowing that democracy is the only way people can live with joy and have a voice in those who govern them. Even today we continue to fight against those in the Middle East who would suppress those freedoms, and deny women and minorities (like myself) the same opportunities to be all they were created to be. Isis torments those who speak up for religious freedom, walking in a way that they don't condone. Through threat and intimidation they seek to quiet the voice of freedom.