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The Future is Ours to Write

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Today’s world is a new and confusing place, and we’re being faced with all sorts of fresh challenges—you know the drill; you’re living it. But what if we flipped the script?

Instead, consider this: With newfound challenges comes new ways of looking at things, new potentials that seemed impossible even this time last year. Communities are taking to the streets demanding justice, scientists all over the world are working together to create solutions to contemporary problems in record time, and, in this moment, the systems we’ve created as a society have abruptly found themselves open to fruitful questioning and change.

To help imagine what might come next, the Marian University Department of English invites future leaders across Indiana— students in grades 9-12— to submit a creative essay that offers imaginations of a hopeful future. What challenges do you see? What concerns you, your community, or your family?  How might we rise to these challenges and build a better world?

We seek submissions that think big— submissions that take on large and complex problems and offer radically hopeful visions of a pathway to solve these problems that leads to a better future.  We seek submissions that focus on the personal: how has COVID-19, inequality, racism, or another similarly significant issue impacted you? How might this current moment inspire you to think and act differently?  What changes do you want to see in the world and what will you do to make these changes? 

The Future Is Ours To Write will recognize creatively written essays that build from personal experiences and insights to develop a pathway for socially just and progressive responses. How might you draw on your home, community, cultural and social media experiences to encourage others to take action and imagine a more hopeful future?

Awards & Recognition

An Opportunity to Publish Your Work, Win a $1000 Scholarship, and Score a Prepaid Visa Gift Card.

The Future Is Ours To Write will recognize excellence in writing through Honorable Mention awards as well as two 2nd place awards and one 1st place award in each grade level. Award winners will be invited to publish their submission in an anthology, which will be released in Summer 2022. An awards ceremony will take place at Marian University in early April 2022. 

In addition to publication, each 1st place winner will receive a $100 Visa gift card, and each 2nd place winner will receive a $50 Visa gift card. And what’s even better than a prepaid Visa card? Scholarship money! Each 1st and 2nd place winner in the 12th grade category will receive a $1,000 Marian University Future Writers Scholarship, eligible for tuition at Marian University.

Essay Submission Details

  • Submissions are due by 11:59pm Friday, November 5, 2021
  • Complete the submission form and upload your essay at
  • Essays should be up to 1,500 words; submissions above the word limit will not be accepted
  • Only one submission per author will be accepted
  • Authors must reside in Indiana and be currently enrolled at the 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade level.

Enter your submission

Evaluation Criteria

Winners will be determined by a panel of judges who will evaluate essays based on their ability to:

  • Identify a social issue that impacts a community and propose an imaginative and equitable response
  • Ground a larger issue within the context of a personal narrative or insight
  • Develop appropriate, specific and compelling content
  • Present content in a cohesive and sequenced manner
  • Texture experiences, settings, images, and descriptions with rich detail
  • Consider the impact of the proposed response
  • Edit sentences appropriately for the occasion and/or for stylistic effect

Authors are invited to visit the Marian University Writing Center or Flanner Community Writing Center for assistance in shaping and developing their essay. Visit to schedule a free online or face-to-face appointment.

 Award winners will be announced by December 17, 2021.

2020 Winners

12th Grade

  • 1st Place: Angel-Hannah Akinleye , How Was Your Day?, Riverside High School, Clifford Kocian (teacher)​
  • 2nd Place: Rebecca Suarez​, Society and Acceptance: Out and Proud, Herron High School, Collette Nicolini (teacher)​
  • 3rd Place: Joey Cattedra​, Quarantine and its Effects on Mental Health, Riverside High School, Clifford Kocian (teacher)​

11th Grade

  • 1st Place: Genevieve Horvath, A Future for the Kind, John Adams High School, Megan Twietmeyer (teacher)​
  • 2nd Place (tie)Seth Holland, The Future Is Ours to Write, Edinburgh Community High School​
  • 2nd Place (tie): Ava Kalscheur, Homelessness: The Obstacle of Understanding, St. Mary's Homeschool (Indianapolis)​

10th Grade

  • 1st PlaceDanielle Hensley​, Vacant Stares, Franklin Community Schools, Eric Jenkins (teacher) ​
  • 2nd PlaceGavin Fisk​, The Existential Threat to Humanity, Franklin Community Schools, Eric Jenkins (teacher)​
  • 3rd Place: Andrew Haddock, The Undiscussed Hardship of Immigrant Life in a Systemically Racist America and a Second-Generation Immigrant's Solution on Bettering Such, Franklin Community Schools, Eric Jenkins (teacher)​

Honorable Mention (all grades): 

  • Ta’Niya Calahan, The Time for Change is Now, Junior at Decatur Central High School, Sarah Wilson (teacher) ​

  • Alina Molina, The Power of Youth in Our Communities, Junior at Decatur Central High School, Kevin Marler (teacher)​

  • Jessica Moran, The Future Is Ours to Write, Junior at Decatur Central High School, Kevin Marler (teacher)​


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