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Tate Hurvitz
Project Director


Essay Contest

Download a PDF of the Contest Specs 





Entries due by December 16, 2011.

Submit by e-mail to:



Submission Requirement: 

Scholarly Content: 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is an account of the relationship between "Henrietta Lacks" the person and the "HeLa cells," the cultured cell line derived from her cancer.  This story can be read at many levels including, but not limited to, ones that are social, historical, ethical, educational, scientific and spiritual.   Choosing one or more of these contexts as the focus of your discussion, consider what is/are the most compelling question(s) raised by the story of the Henrietta Lacks, her cells and her legacy.


You may reflect and write about this book directly, or you may use it as a springboard into a discussion of another text or modern dilemma related to any of the issues introduced in this book.


You may cite outside sources, but it is not a requirement. 



Your essay should be 1200-1500 words.  



Regional Judges

Jeffrey Kirsch, Director of the Fleet Science Center

Grant Barrett, A Way With Words

Bill Higgins, President of the Board of Directors of ACLU for San Diego and Imperial Counties



Judging Criteria

Essays that meet the Submission Requirement will be scored on the four criteria listed below.


Significance: Identify and address a challenge that is of significant concern in the area of 

science and/or social justice stemming from your reading of The Immortal Life of Henrietta 



Social and/or Ethical principles: Explicitly identify the principles that are relevant and 

important to your consideration of the issue(s).


Stakeholders: Identify those who are directly or indirectly affected by the conduct or 

products in question, and explain why.


Solution: Explore one or more solutions (general or specific) to the ethical/social dilemma(s),

(at least) briefly detailing some of its/their likely implications.




The winning essay on the Grossmont College campus will automatically be submitted for consideration in the regional competition, which will also include essayists from UCSD, SDSU, USD, CSU San Marcos, and Point Loma Nazarene College.


Grossmont Awards

1st Prize - $300

2nd Prize - $150

3rd Prize - $50


Regional Awards

1st Prize - $600

2nd Prize - $300

3rd Prize - $100

Last Updated: 07/29/2017


Tate Hurvitz
Project Director

  • Grossmont
  • Cuyamaca
A Member of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District