collage of photos showing the center facilities

Essay Contest

The Montclair Book Essay Contest winners were honored at a celebration held April 23rd in the CWE. You can see pictures from the event on our Twitter page:@Montclair_CWE. Thank you again to all those who participated in our contest. We were very impressed with your essays, which made choosing winners all the more difficult. Congratulations to those who were selected!

The Devil’s Highway 

In May 2001, a group of 26 men attempted to cross the border into the desert of southern Arizona, through the deadliest region of the continent, a place called the Devil’s Highway.  They were led by a “coyote” who abandoned them.  Only 12 survived.  Luis Alberto Urrea explores the politics and policies that can lead to such tragedy, including the personal and social costs of illegal immigration. But at its heart, The Devil’s Highway is the story of a journey in the hopes of starting a better or different life.  The book also presents the metaphor of invisible borders.

Consider these questions as you write an essay about crossing borders in your own or your family’s life.  What borders, real or metaphorical, have you crossed?  How have they challenged you?  What aspects of The Devil’s Highway connect to your experience with crossing borders, visible or invisible?  How do borders separate people?  How can we bridge them?  What meaning does your story have for others?


Length: Between 1,000-1,500 words
Format: Double space and use a 12-point font
Submission:  Entries must include a separate title page with your name, essay title and contact information: phone number, email address and mailing address.
Evaluation criteria: Each essay will be judged based on the extent and effectiveness with which it:

  • Engages audience
  • Communicates an argument effectively
  • Uses persuasive evidence
  • Exemplifies excellence in writing

Eligible contestants: Open to all undergraduates enrolled at Montclair State University during the Fall 2013 or Spring 2014 semester
One winner will receive $100
Two runners up will receive $25 each
Submission Deadline: EXTENDED to Tuesday, April 1, 2014.
How to Submit:  Send an electronic copy to and in the subject line enter “Montclair Book Essay Contest.”  In the email message, indicate the college or school in which you enrolled, the degree for which you are a candidate, and when you expect to graduate.  If you have not yet declared a major, please indicate that as well. Entries must include a separate title page with your name, essay title and contact information: phone number, email address and mailing address. Entries without these requirements will not be accepted.