Humans of Jacksonville: Untold Stories of Unsung Heroes Collegiate Essay Contest


The Atlantic Institute of Jacksonville proudly presents the Humans of Jacksonville Collegiate Essay Contest, open to college students enrolled at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville University, Edward Waters College, and Florida State College of Jacksonville. The contest winner will be awarded a $600 cash prize

Students are invited to submit an essay celebrating an individual who: (1) Resides or works in Jacksonville (or Duval county); (2) Is of distinguished courage, character, and/or ability; AND (3) Who had a powerful, positive, and transformational impact on the student’s life during her or his college or high school years.

FIVE Finalists and their heroines/heroes will be recognized, the contest winner announced, and the $600 cash prize awarded at the Atlantic Peace & Dialogue Awards Dinner  on February 9, 2016 at Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront.

Application Submission DEADLINE: December 18, 2015


(Please keep essays to approximately 500 words):

Why are you nominating this heroine/hero?
How has your heroine/hero influenced you in a positive way during your college or high school years?
What do you know about your heroine/hero’s religious, spiritual, or non-religious identity? What impact do you think that identity might have on her/his courage, values and/or character?
What might your life have been like if this heroine/hero had not provided that positive influence?
What would you like your heroine/hero to know about the impact she/he has had on your life?


Download the application here: HOJ OFFICIAL APPLICATION

Please email your completed application, at least one (maximum of three) photo/s of your heroine/hero, and your 500 word essay (saved in a Microsoft Word compatible format), by the SUBMISSION DEADLINE: DECEMBER 18, 2015 to Matt Hartley, Project Director: HOJESSAYCONTEST@GMAIL.COM

If you have any questions about the contest, contact Matt Hartley, Project Director: HOJESSAYCONTEST@GMAIL.COM

The winner of our Community Service Award was Rev. R.L. Gundy, Pastor of the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church. We recognized his outstanding leadership in promoting diversity, particularly during the contentious debates about expanding inclusivity for Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance and his work to support those forgotten in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

The Educational Service Awardee was John Thrasher, President Florida State University for his outstanding leadership at FSU in working with students to propel FSU to a nationally recognized university for its work on embracing diversity and inclusion.

The awards were followed by guest speakers from the UK, journalist and Pulitzer Prize nominated author Carla Power. A journalist specializing in Muslim societies, global social issues and culture, and author of If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran. Carla Power’s eye-opening story of her year spent studying with longtime friend, traditional Islamic scholar, Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi found a way to confront ugly stereotypes and persistent misperceptions that were cleaving their communities. Through their unique friendship between a secular American and a madrasa-trained sheikh they looked closely at the Quran. Their conversation and study of the controversial text highlighted a faith that preached peace, respect for women and not oppression. Carla was interviewed by FSU student Inam Sakinah, a student at Florida State University where she is a Presidential Scholar and the founding chair of a campus-wide initiative called “The Power of We”

Atlantic Institute Jacksonville are grateful for the evening’s sponsors First Coast Cardiovascular Institute, UNF Division of Continuing Education, WJCT, Yousif & Manar Abubakr and OneJax. Many thanks to all who came and contributed to such a vibrant and successful evening.

‘May diversity not be a token but a tool. May we make a difference with our differences’.

Thanks very much!

Hero & Student Finalist Tamika Martin and D’yaasia Teixeira

Student Finalist & Hero Fulterius King and Tarah Trueblood

Student Finalist & Hero Katherine Sanchez and Amy Derringer

Student Finalist & Hero Nadia Esha and Anna Marie Siegel

Student Finalist & Hero Shawn Stephens and Michael J. Williams, II