The national winner in the 2020 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest for High School Students is Cape Fear Academy’s rising senior Noah Durham.
The contest invites high school students from across the nation to write a 700-1,000-word essay on an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official as defined by John F. Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Profiles in Courage. Durham’s subject was U.S. Representative Walter B. Jones Jr., a Republican who represented North Carolina’s 3rd District. Noah’s full essay can be found here: https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/education/profile-in-courage-essay-contest/past-winning-essays/2020-winning-essay-by-noah-durham
This year, 2,787 students submitted essays from across the country, including Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, as well as submissions from U.S. citizens in Colombia, France, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Trinidad and Tobago. The first-place prize is a $10,000 award and trip to Boston to attend Profile in Courage events at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library later in the year.
The winners of both the Profile in Courage Award and the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest for High School Students are selected by the Profile in Courage Award Committee, a bipartisan group of national, political and community leaders. Chaired by Martha Minnow (300th Anniversary University Professor, Harvard University and former dean of Harvard Law School), the committee includes the following:
- Stacey Abrams (former Georgia House Democratic Leader)
- David Axelrod (Political Strategist and Founder of the Institute of Politics at University of Chicago)
- Joaquin Castro, Congressman (D-TX 20th District)
- Christopher Dodd (former U.S. Senator, D-Connecticut)
- Donna Edwards (former U.S. Congresswoman, D-MD)
- Adam Frankel (former speechwriter to President Barack Obama)
- Sherrilyn Ifill (President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund)
- Bob Inglis (R-SC) (former U.S. Congressman and Profile in Courage Award Honoree)
- Caroline Kennedy (former U.S. Ambassador to Japan and Honorary President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation)
- Marne Levine (VP of Global Partnerships and Business Development at Facebook)
- Beth Myers (Principal, Buckminster Strategies)
- Ronald L. Sargent (Chairman, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation)
- Jack Schlossberg (Grandson of President Kennedy)
- The contest has been an annual event since 2000, when the first student winner was Pete Buttigieg, who profiled Bernie Sanders.
The nominating teacher, CFA Upper School teacher Nathan Gergel, also receives a John F. Kennedy Public Service Grant in the amount of $500 to be used for school projects that encourage student leadership and civic engagement. Gergel is also invited to Boston to attend the Profile in Courage events.