The Kay Nelson Memorial Essay Prize
Established in 2013 by Prof. Alison Sainsbury to honor her aunt, Kay Nelson, a prolific
writer of short and often humorous essays whose work is a testament to the personal
essay’s most essential truth: individual voice and idiosyncratic vision enliven even
the most quotidian of experiences.
To enter the Kay Nelson Memorial Essay Prize, students should submit one essay, double-spaced,
of no more than 5,000 words (shorter essays are more than acceptable!). Traditional
as well as more experimental forms of the essay are welcomed.
2022 Winner: Nina DeBoni, "My Grievances with Math, As a Concept"
Honorable Mention: Farah Bassyouni, "Tahrir Square: The Story of a Childhood"
2021 Winner: Gabrielle Ghaderi, “Silent Flames: Barcelona after Uprising”
Honorable Mention: Nicole Brennan, "I am an Idiopathic, Not a Crazy Drug Addict”
2020 Winner: Rachel Williams, for her essay "Cancer Can't Take It All"
Honorable Mention: Paraskevi (Vi) Kakares, for her essay “ή E”
2019 Winner: Kathryn Halford, for her essay "Vulnerability in 5 Stages"
2018 Winner: Emily Salomon, for her essay “The Devil’s Playground”
2017 Winner: Mayra Gonzalez for her essay “Assests-Liabilities=Equ[ality]”
Honorable Mention: Vandhana Rajarathnam, for “The Garage”
2016 Winner: Hanna Peterson, for her essay “My Own Way.”
Honorable Mention: Savannah Feher, for “Four Plywood Walls.”
2015 Winner: Olivia Anderson, for her essay, “Blood Tide.”
Honorable Mentions: Olivian Heffernan, for “In the Same Bed,” and Jasmine
Wright, for “As Best He Could.”
2014 Winner: Colleen O’Connor, for her essay, “Darling, It’s Better”
Honorable Mentions: Olivia Anderson and Mack Rivkin
2013 Winner: Sydney White, for her essay, “Hallways and Home”
Honorable Mentions: Savannah Davis and Shane McGowan