SHSU Common Reader Contests

Freshman Essay Contest

Contest details and rubric.

Prompt: The Anthropocene is the current geologic age, in which humans have profoundly reshaped the planet and its biodiversity. In these essays author John Green reviews different facets of our human-centered planet and reveals the contradictions of contemporary humanity.

John Green believes that an overarching  contradiction in contemporary human life is that, as a species, we are both far too powerful and not nearly powerful enough, a paradox that came into sharp focus as we faced a global pandemic that both separated us and bound us together.

Give an example of how the global pandemic both separated you and bound you together with others in your personal experience. Also, as you look back now, reflect on the changes (positive and negative) in your life due to your experience with the pandemic.

The contest is open to all in a freshmen classification who enroll full-time (minimum 12 hours) at Sam Houston State University in the Spring 2024 semester who have read the book.

Submission Deadline: April 19th at 4:00pm

Submit all entries to

Scholarships valued at a total of $600 will be awarded to new freshman students submitting the top three winning essays according to scholarship rules.$300 First Place, $200 Second Place, and $100 Third Place awards.

Questions? Email:

Art Scholarship

Contest details and guidelines

Prompt: “Art is where what we survive survives.” ― John Green. Using this quote as inspiration, create digital art that depicts the theme of human (yours or others) survival. We encourage artists to create art that has a specific and intentional connection to this prompt and is prominently evident in the artwork.

The contest is open to all students enrolled a minimum of 9 hours at Sam Houston State University in the spring 2024 semester who have read the book. 

Student art will be produced and digitally displayed on the Website in the spring/summer 2024 semesters.

Submission Deadline: April 19th at 4:00pm

Submit entries here.

Scholarships will be awarded to three winners. Best of Show: $300; Second Place: $200; Honorable Mention: $100

Questions? Email:

SHSU Common Reader Deliberative Dialogues Scholarship Event

Registration due prior to event. Click here to register.

Groups will compete for prizes (up to $250 per 1st place winning team member, up to $100 per 2nd place team member).

Location: LSC White Ballroom

Date: April 16th

Time: 4:00-7:00pm

Food will be provided for participants.

Questions? Email:

Poetry Slam for SAAM

Poetry Slam bringing awareness to Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Prompt: Write and perform a poem that illustrates or explores central themes of humanity’s impact on the world. Possible themes could include but are not limited to: (a) human impact on each other, (b) the spirit and strength of human survival in the face of adversity, ( (c) overcoming adversity to pursue your dreams, (d) the retreat into fantasy and delusion to mitigate the harshness of the real world.

Registration for performers is highly encouraged prior to event. If time permits, entries will be taken from the audience.

Audience members do not need to register. All are welcome!

Registration link

Students will compete for scholarship prizes.

Scholarships valued at a total of $700 will be awarded to students submitting the top four voted on by the judges and the audience.$300 First Place, $200 Second Place, $100 Third Place and $100 People's Choice awards.

Location: LSC Kat Klub

Date: April 18th

Time: 6:00-8:00pm

Questions? Email:

(The poetry shared at this event may contain descriptions of abuse, sexual abuse, self-harming behavior, and other sensitive content due to the theme and purpose of the event.  This content is included in order to provide awareness to sexual assault and to give victims of abuse a voice. Please plan accordingly.)