Ruth Bader Ginsburg Essay Contest
Rhode Island elementary, middle and high School students are invited to submit drawings, essays on how iconic U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has inspired them
Each year, Roger Williams University School of Law, Rhode Island’s only law school, invites Ocean State students from grades K through 12 to submit essays and drawings on how they have been inspired by the legacy of late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court of the United States, who passed away on September 18, 2020.
“Justice Ginsburg cared about equality for all people,” noted RWU Law Professor Emily Sack, who advises the school’s Women’s Law Society. “When she started her fight for women’s equality under the law, it seemed like an impossible task, but she worked hard and persisted, and made great strides for the things she believed in.
“She also knew that this is not something she could accomplish alone, and that we all have a part to play in making a better world,” Sack added. “She famously said, ‘Fight for things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.’ At RWU Law, we thought this essay contest would be a wonderful way for all of us, and especially our state’s students, to be inspired by Justice Ginsburg’s life and her call to action.”
Rules for the 2023 contest, and past winning entries, can be found below.
2023 Official Contest RulesClick to Open
Elementary School (Grades K-5)
- Create an original piece of artwork that symbolizes How has RBG inspired me? Artwork may not be traced or copied. Only original works will be accepted.
- Give your artwork a title. Place title at the top of your page.
- Use materials that you have. i.e., pencil, crayons, watercolor, and markers.
- Paper size: 8 ½ x 11”.
- Artwork submissions may be photographed or scanned and then uploaded. JPEG format preferred. Use submission link on this page.
Middle School (Grades 6-8)
- Create an original essay on How has RBG inspired me?
- The essay title should be at the top of page one.
- Limited to one page, double spaced (about 250 words)
High School (Grades 9-12)
- Create an original essay on How has RBG inspired me?
- The essay title should be at the top of page one.
- Limited to two pages, double spaced (about 500 words)
Instructions for All Categories:
- The essay/artwork title should be at the top of page one.
- Submissions may be uploaded and submitted via the link on this page. Artwork may be scanned.
- Mailed entries will not be considered.
- Submissions must include student’s name, grade, school, title of artwork or essay, and parent or guardian name & contact information.
One winning submission will be selected from each category.
- Elementary School (Grades K-5): $100 and one copy of I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy
- Middle School (Grades 6-8): $200 and one copy of Notorious RBG Young Readers' Edition: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik
- High School (Grades 9-12): $300 and one copy of Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik
All winning submissions will be featured on the Roger Williams University School of Law website and announced at the annual Women in Law Leadership Lecture to be held in the Spring of 2023. Winning submissions will need to present a W-9 to claim their prizes. Winners consent to submit a quality photograph of themselves to be used in print and social media.
Students* in grades K-12 and attending school in Rhode Island are eligible to participate. The contest is open to private, public, and home-schooled students. Middle School participants in Grade 5 may select to submit in the Middle School (Grade 6-8) Category and submit an essay. Judges will conduct reviews by category.
*Students who are the children of current Roger Williams University and Roger Williams University School of Law employees or students are ineligible to participate.
Judging will be conducted by members of the Women’s Law Society of Roger Williams University School of Law. Entries will be reviewed by grade level.
Tuesday, January 31, 2023 by 5:00 PM EST.
Questions may be directed to RBGessay@rwu.edu
2022 WinnersClick to Open
BRISTOL, R.I., March 22, 2022 – Roger Williams University School of Law is proud to announce the winning entries in its Second Annual Ruth Bader Ginsburg Essay Contest.
In December, RWU Law invited Ocean State students from grades K through 12 to submit essays and artworks on how they have been inspired by the legacy of late Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, who passed away on September 18, 2020.
As part of the prize, Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly generously agreed to publish the winning entries. The winning students also received cash prizes and books.
“Justice Ginsburg cared about equality for all people,” said RWU Law Professor Emily Sack, who advises the Women’s Law Society, which co-sponsored the contest with its members serving as judges. “When she started her fight for women’s equality under the law, it seemed like an impossible task, but she worked hard and persisted, and made great strides for the things she believed in.
“She also knew that this is not something she could accomplish alone, and that we all have a part to play in making a better world,” Sack added. “She famously said, ‘Fight for things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.’” This essay contest ia a wonderful way for all of us, and especially our state’s students, to be inspired by Justice Ginsburg’s life and her call to action.”
This year’s response was once again gratifyingly large and enthusiastic, and the judges found themselves making some very hard choices. But the winners have been selected and (drum roll) they are:
Elementary School Winner
“Justice, Justice, Shall You Pursue”
By Aviva Nierman,North Smithfield Elementary School (Grade 3)
* * * * * * * * * *
Middle School Winner
“How Has Ruth Bader Ginsburg Inspired Me?”
By Carter Mi, TIMES² Academy, Providence (Grade 6)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has inspired the world in many different ways, especially for women. But here is how she has personally inspired me. The first way is that she was one of only nine women in her class of 500 hundred at Harvard Law School. She even graduated at the top of her class! How this inspires me is that when I grow older I want to become a lawyer. At the time being a lawyer was a rare job for women since they were thought to be less intelligent or less capable than men. This fact makes it more inspiring because she defied the expectations of society at that time.
In addition to that statement, another way she has inspired me is that she did many things for women’s rights. How this inspires me is that women at the time were oppressed. Even though I am not a woman, I feel inspired by this because I am an Asian-American and quite a few Asian hate crimes occur throughout America due to the spread of COVID-19. People of my culture are currently being oppressed, kind of like how women were at the time, so seeing someone stand up for their people in order to prove what they think is right truly inspires me.
Lastly, the final way she has inspired me is that she kept working at the Supreme Court even though she was sick with colon cancer. How this inspires me is that throughout my life I’ve experienced a few deaths and have seen loved ones struggle to stay alive while they were sick. Now, to see someone who has the strength and willpower to work even though they’re sick with a disease like cancer is truly inspirational.
In conclusion, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an inspirational figure, not just for women, but the entire world as a whole. Even though she’s gone now, she will not be forgotten for the ways she has inspired the world.
* * * * * * * * * *
High School Winner
By Isabella Montini, North Kingstown High School (Grade 12)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg not only paved the way for feminists, but she demonstrated what true leadership looks like. Throughout her career she worked with others and led a nation to fight for what they believed in and to encourage others to join them, no matter their beliefs.
She practiced what she preached through the friendship she found with Justice Scalia. Although the two Justices had differing ideologies, they battled in good faith and had a lasting friendship. Her actions and words have inspired me because not only did she fight for justice, but she fought for civility among differing opinions.
This is a key value that I impose as I lead a non-partisan political action committee called Students4Change. Giving students and young members of society a voice in local democracy is a powerful skill to cultivate meaningful change. Ruth Bader Ginsburg inspired me to lead this platform to give everyone a collective voice, no matter their viewpoint.
Our country is lacking good-faith actors on the local, state, and national level. Citizens can become cruel and vile when fighting for what they stand for, as demonstrated during the insurrection. RBG never gave in to foul play or bad actors. She chose to lead in a way in which others will follow. Her passion and leadership inspired me to fight for what I believe in during local municipal meetings, as well as encouraging others to do so despite controversy in opinions.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was also an avid fighter for voting rights and wanted to grant equitable access for Americans to exercise this right. In the case of Shelby County v. Holder, RBG specified that she believed any states with a history of racial discrimination in voting under The Voting Rights Act of 1965 should be required to get federal approval before changing their voting laws.
Because of the history across the country of gerrymandering, limiting ballot drop boxes, and stigmas around mail-in ballots, RBG’s fight for equitable voting rights inspired me to join the Let Rhode Island Vote campaign and work with elected officials to ensure voting rights in Rhode Island. These provisions include no excuse mail voting, a permanent absentee list, rigorous voter registration list maintenance, early voting, enhanced signature verification, online mail ballot request, ballot drop boxes, no witness requirement, and new primary dates.
I door-knocked in Providence to inform citizens on this new act, and encourage them to send Let Rhode Island Vote postcards to their state senators and representatives. My political action committee also met with Alana DiMario, one of the lead state senators sponsoring the legislation, to discuss how efforts can be increased to ensure its passing. As RBG put it, “throwing out preclearance, when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes, is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”
As a feminist, Ruth Bader Ginsburg continuously stood up for women’s rights and equal representation. She gave us a seat at the table and showed so many that the voices of women need to be heard and respected. Her perseverance has inspired me to fight for equitable access to abortion in Rhode Island. Under the current system, not all healthcare covers this cost. This disproportionately affects women of color and women with lower incomes. We all deserve equitable access to these programs.
Throughout her career, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has worked to protect the rights of so many Americans. Her actions and words of wisdom inspired me to fight for what I believe in in my own town and state. She leaves behind a great legacy of leading in a way where others will follow, and she proved that what makes a great leader is inspiring others to also fight for change as she laid the groundwork for so many after her.
2021 WinnersClick to Open
BRISTOL, R.I., March 3, 2021 –Last December, Roger Williams University School of Law invited Ocean State students from grades K through 12 to submit essays and artworks on how they have been inspired by the legacy of late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court of the United States, who passed away on September 18, 2020.
As part of the prize, Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly agreed to publish the winning entries. The winning students also received cash prizes and books.
“Justice Ginsburg cared about equality for all people,” said RWU Law Professor Emily Sack, who advises the Women’s Law Society, which co-sponsored the contest, with its members serving as judges. “When she started her fight for women’s equality under the law, it seemed like an impossible task, but she worked hard and persisted, and made great strides for the things she believed in.
“She also knew that this is not something she could accomplish alone, and that we all have a part to play in making a better world,” Sack added. “She famously said, ‘Fight for things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.’ We thought this essay contest would be a wonderful way for all of us, and especially our state’s students, to be inspired by Justice Ginsburg’s life and her call to action.”
The response was gratifyingly large and enthusiastic, and the judges found themselves making some very hard choices. But the winners have been selected and (drum roll) they are:
* * * * *
Breaking Glass Ceilings
By Millin Licht, Jewish Community Day School, Providence
* * * * *
Jackpot and Ruth Bader Ginsburg
By Mairead Lapierre, Lawn School, Jamestown
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “Fight for the things that you care about but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” RBG has inspired me in my life to fight for the things I care about.
RBG inspired me by not being afraid to work with almost all men. The first time I saw the boys playing Jackpot at recess, I thought “that looks fun.” There were seven boys throwing and catching a football and yelling out numbers and different sayings, like “Pac Man” and “Mystery Box,” as they were throwing the ball. There were no other girls playing with them. I was really bothered, because while the boys were playing Jackpot, all the girls were playing Four Square.
I went over to the boys and asked if I could play Jackpot with them, because it looked like fun and I wanted to try playing something new. The boys said that I had to be able to throw and catch a football. I remember getting ready to throw the football and all the boys moved up close to me –clearly thinking I wouldn’t be able to throw the ball far. I threw the football in a spiral just like my Dad taught me and it went over their heads. Steve turned to Liam and said, “She throws better than you!” My throw impressed them enough, and they let me join the game. Once the other girls saw me playing, a few of them came over and asked if they could play, too. Steve asked them, “Can you throw the ball?” And I said, “Just let them play!” And the boys let them play.
RBG has inspired me in my life to help adjust things that are not equal. She inspired me to play games with boys, and that got some girls to join so that it wasn’t just boys playing with boys and girls playing with girls.
* * * * *
A Seat at the Table
By Jasmine Stevens, St. Mary Academy - Bay View, East Providence
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the epitome of a visionary. She knew what the world could be, and she sought to ensure that her vision became reality. Ginsburg was undeniably a mastermind, her levels of valor and genius were truly unmatched. And even though she grew up in a world where she was told to be quiet and proper by the society around her, she never let that affect her goals and ambitions.
Ginsburg’s mind worked like clockwork: everything had a place and, if all parts were moving together and correctly, the clock would tick in harmony. She held herself with a silent confidence: she had nothing to prove, no need to justify herself or her actions, no second guessing, just her self-assurance keeping her going. I aspire to acquire the level of confidence she held, and use her as the visualization of what that would look like.
Ginsburg accomplished so much throughout her career. She adjusted with the times and, most of all, she was an excellent listener. She had the ability to empathize with those around her; the ability to see things from a third person’s perspective. She was able to step back and view things from the perspective of those she was listening to, and to understand the disproportionate ways in which individual policies affected certain marginalized groups. Ginsburg seemed to hold all the qualities of an empath, in ways that make me want to see the world in the way she saw it. Her actions have made me strive to be more understanding and compassionate, to think of others and not only myself.
I cannot even fathom into words the level of genius which she possessed. The execution of her argued Supreme Court cases were unbelievably and undeniably brilliant. When I first listened to her court hearings, I was confused at first. I struggled to understand why she was so keen on finding male gender bias victims. It was upon hearing and reading the Califano v. Goldfarb case that it all clicked. Ginsburg got the judges to unknowingly admit the existence of gender bias, an institution they refused to admit exists. Instead of attempting to discuss gender bias against women, where it was strongest, to non-listening ears, she thought to establish it first against men: genius.
Ginsburg understood that people, especially men, did not believe in gender bias, especially against women. Instead of trying to explain that gender bias against women existed, a topic that was and is still currently being forced into silence, she established gender bias against men. In establishing that gender bias against men existed, she established that the fundamental idea and policy of gender bias does in fact exist. And in establishing its overall existence, she established that gender bias against women exists as well. It never ceases to amaze me to look back on Ginsburg’s accomplishments. This case specifically taught me that when people won’t listen to what you have to say, you must make them listen. It taught me that tactical skill and execution are just as important as the facts in front of you, and that confidence in the information you are relaying is so utterly important.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg taught me to not apologize for existing in a world where the odds are stacked against me, to question outdated and biased authority, and make the world a place I can openly and happily exist in. Not only was Ginsburg a women’s rights activist, but she was also an LGBTQ+ ally. She fought against racial injustice, and sought to abolish classist infrastructures within this country. Ginsburg taught me to be confident in who I am, and to fight for what I believe in. She told me and many other girls my age and those older, that we deserve our seat at the table.
While we may have to fight for it more than our male counterparts, we are every bit as deserving as those who have been handed a seat, if not more. Ginsburg earned all that she had. She paved her own path, made her own way in this world, and that is exactly what I intend to do. This past year of 2020 has taught me to be myself even if society will not accept me for it. And with Justice Ginsburg’s guidance throughout my adolescence, I feel as though I’m finally owning my identity.