Winning Essays and Essayists


Here are the Winning Essayists






Ashlan Schofield 


























































Adam Allen


























































 Jared Maxfield


By Ashlan Schofield

 Heroes. The very word evokes a sense of thrill, respect, honor. Names come to mind of those who have gone before us, those whose names are permanently imprinted in our hearts and in our minds. They are those who have stood up for the betterment of mankind, those who died to ensure our freedom, and those who changed our world. These are men and women who will be remembered in the pages of history long after we are gone. Their fingerprints on the face of our society, an everlasting impression of greatness. But what, I ask, constitutes a hero? Is it a calling only for the extraordinary? How will our names be remembered?

What constitutes a hero? What is it that triggers our respect when we hear names such as Mahatma Ghandi, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, or Martin Luther King Jr? They were people of different eras, of different opinions, of different circumstances, none of whom could have possibly predicted the lasting impact that they would have on the world.

Ghandi was truly a man of divine calling. He saw in the world a need for change. He saw inequality and hatred among his brethren and would not let circumstances drive him down, but fought back with peaceful persistence. We remember him as a father of peace. But what did he say of his contributions to society? " The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."

Florence Nightingale championed the rights of female nurses. She cared for the sick and the wounded, and held her ground against opposition from those authorities who would try to drag her down. We remember her as a mother of mercy and sacrifice. And what did she say in response to those who asked her to write down her experiences? " You ask me why I do not write something...I think one's feelings waste themselves in words, they ought all to be distilled into actions and into actions which bring results."

Thomas Jefferson, one of our most dearly beloved Founding Fathers penned the Constitution of the United States of America. He battled in the constitutional convention to unify a country, under God, at the expense of many personal sacrifices of time and opinion. He is remembered as the father of the Constitution. Yet, he always looked beyond himself. For he said, " Too old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall do it for my posterity."

Albert Einstein contributed to the discovery of theories about relativity, matter, and our relationship with the Universe. Remembered as the father of E=mc^2, his discoveries have changed the face of the scientific community forever. Yet his recollections on the purpose of life reveal, " Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living."

Even Martin Luther King Jr., the father of civil liberty, rights, and freedom. A man who, at the expense of his life, was dedicated to the peaceful union of brotherhood between people of all color said, " Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

What constitutes a hero? Ordinary people who in a moment of time are called upon to be extraordinary and rise to the challenge. A hero is one who does not fear excellence or settle for anything less than the best we can do. The power of the hero lies hidden in our abilities and knowledge to choose the right. The power of the hero lies in the service of our fellow man.

Our loving Savior portrays this poignantly. He is the Father and the Son. He is our Redeemer and the Rock of our Salvation. He spent his life doing normal things. He brake bread and blessed it. He healed the sick. He taught. He showed mercy unto the beggar, and His whole ministry was dedicated to empowering his disciples to exercise the very same power. This is the confidence he has placed in us, to act in His name. He said, "For when ye are in the service of your fellow man, ye are only in the service of your God." This is a hero!

As we lose ourselves in the service of our fellow man, we grow in love, compassion, intellect, ability. We access the power of God, which is charity, the pure love of Christ. Students of Brigham Young University...rise to the challenge, exercise this power, do not fear excellence. Serve. Serve. Serve those around you. What constitutes a hero? YOU! 




By Adam Allen

 Why do we know the names of people like George Washington, Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Florence Nightingale, William Wilberforce, Martin Luther, Christopher Columbus, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, Isaac Newton, Beethoven, Robert E. Lee, Thomas Aquinas and Jesus Christ?  Because these people changed the world forever. All these names will be remembered for hundreds or even thousands of years to come. Will your name be remembered for 1000 years after you have died, or even 100 years? What could you do in your lifetime so that people 100 or 1000 years from now will remember your name? 

I think that for you and me, and for every hero in history, at the root of greatness and achievement are singular moments of decision—moments where courage and discipline and lifelong determination all culminate in a decision that shapes the lives of generations to come.   

I don’t think that the greatness in Jefferson or John Adams or Captain Moroni was born in a moment where all their inherent genius suddenly exploded onto the scene.  It came after paying the price.  Part of that price, I believe, is to prepare with fierce discipline. And then when that defining moment occurs, we will be ready act with supreme confidence in our cause. 

A few examples.  General Eisenhower was in charge of the greatest military invasion in the history of the world.  As the fateful night of June 4, 1944, approached, weather conditions called for a very critical decision.  The 400,000 men, 6,900 boats, and 12,000 aircraft all awaited his word to carry out an attack that he and thousands of others had planned for over 2 and a half years.  During a quiet moment he penned his backup speech and put it into his pocket.  “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops…[They] did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.” 

With that in mind, he made the decision to hold the invasion back a day and strike the next night.  And then, with full confidence in his cause, he wrote to his fellow soldiers, “I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”  Discipline and confidence in the cause. 

Thomas Edison fought a different battle.  At age 67 his whole livelihood burned down before his eyes. Only then did he move ahead on a journey that led to the light bulb.  His victory came after 10,000 moments of decision to try again.  That’s discipline.  He said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”  

Another of those culminating moments of life-defining decisions occurred in a cockpit above Germany in 1944.  Bob Newey, the co-pilot, was in charge of giving the ‘bail-out’ command to the six men in his B-26 bomber.  Bursts of anti-aircraft flack were pierced the darkness, and suddenly an explosion lit the sky to his right.  The pilot in a fellow Allied plane yelled over the radio, “You’re hit!  You’re hit!”  His training had taught him to hold off on giving the signal, yet he knew that the lives of his fellow airmen, and his own, hinged on his decision.  Moments later a different plane in their squadron went down in flames, and Bob and all five airmen finished their mission. Confidence backed by a lifetime of discipline. 

May we learn from those who paid the price.  It was George Washington who said, “We ought not to look back, unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors and for the purpose of profiting by dear bought experience.”  We each have personal heroes in our lives, the General Eisenhowers and Captain Bob Neweys, and we should each evaluate how we can learn from them to live a more disciplined life.   

Today, you and I will make decisions that will begin to shape the rest of our lives, that lead up to our own singular moment of decision.  I believe that discipline, for us, means giving up whatever we choose to do that doesn’t add up to greatness in the end.  Discipline means choosing to develop talents and serve others  rather than watching reruns of the Simpsons.  And then, when our moment of decision comes, we will act with supreme confidence.  In the end, maybe those who remember us for 1000s of years won’t come from every nation on earth.  Maybe they’ll be our own children and grandchildren, just like I look up to my hero, Grandpa Bob, for his discipline and confidence in the cause.  The day he voluntarily made the decision to leave his training squadron and go to Europe, he knew that one out of every two B-26 pilots came back from a mission over Germany. He was ready to be in the action.  Maybe our moment of decision hasn’t come.  But when it does, may we have decided long before, may we decide today, to reflect the same discipline as the heroes in our lives.  Then, with supreme confidence, “accept nothing less than full Victory.”







By Jared Maxfield

"Why do we know the names of people like George Washington, Gandhi, Albert Einstein, Florence Nightingale, William Wilberforce, Martin Luther, Christopher Columbus, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, Isaac Newton, Beethoven, Robert E. Lee, Thomas Aquinas and Jesus Christ?  Because these people changed the world forever. All these names will be remembered for hundreds or even thousands of years to come. Will your name be remembered for 1000 years after you have died, or even 100 years? What could you do in your lifetime so that people 100 or 1000 years from now will remember your name?

      You may ask yourself “how can I do this?”  or “why should I do this?”  The answer to these two questions is simple.  Learn from history, find a hero or heroine.  Learn what made them great and you will find that you will want to do great things.  If you study further you will find ideas of how you can do great things coming to you.  

      This is what I would call inspiration.  Thomas Edison, a personal hero of mine, once said “Genius is one percent inspiration 99 percent perspiration”.  You are now on your way.  Now all you need to do is believe in what you are doing and work for it.  To quote Edison again “If we did all the things we are capable of we would literally astound ourselves”. 

      Think of some of the other great heroes.   Some times the great ideas aren’t theirs, but they pick up where they are and do their best to make sure the idea works. Like George Washington.  Do you think this country was his idea?  No, certainly not.  But without him do you think this country would be what it is, if at all.  George Washington heard of this great Idea called liberty, justice, and freedom.  Things that were not available in his country.  He wanted these things for his people, but he couldn’t do it alone.  Then one day something happened.  A shot was heard, someone unnamed, fired a shot in concord that echoed in the hearts of men all around the word.  Someone stood up and said “I will fight for liberty,  I will fight for right, justice and freedom!”  George Washington, though not at concord, heard the sound in the hearts of men, realized this was the moment he had waited for and was willing to face life or death for it.  You have heard the stories.  You know he willingly faced winters cold, the heat of summer. To say the least, he was forged in the furnace of affliction, but like a flint he knew what direction he faced and what he had to do.  Figuratively speaking, if he had to fight through cold steal or hot lead, he would have done it. He carried the banner of freedom for his people. And millions today, both you and me should thank him for it.  

      How about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  This was a man who dared to have a dream, and work for it.  He walked his dream into the hearts of millions.  He too faced what others thought to be insurmountable odds.  In his time many thought he was an enemy, but now we see the fruits of what he did.  He both lived and died for his cause.  But his dream continues to live in, and inspire, millions of people who today treat others with dignity and respect. As Dr. King said: "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: we hold these truths to be self evident that ALL men are created equal". That dream has in many ways come to pass.

      Then there is Christopher Columbus. He knew he needed to sail west.  He faced all sorts of problems getting things going but he never gave up.  Under threat of mutiny he sailed on.  Why?  He had a vision, and knew this was his chance to do it and the time was then, or never.

      What about Florence nightingale?  She was willing to step outside the social norms and do a job looked down upon, because she felt it her Christian calling. Thousands of lives were saved because she stepped out of her comfort zone and stepped IN to the zone of the Lord's comfort.  

        What of The Savior.  What did he do?  Healed the sick, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, calmed the troubled heart, and taught us how to love one another and much, much more.  I can not tell you all the things he did for me personally, just that he did, and does.  

      Why do we remember these peoples names?  Because they had vision, opportunity, and work ethic. They seemed to have all been guided by what many of them called Divine Providence.  Seek for vision, take the opportunity when it comes, and work with all your heart and soul.  “Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; for the power is in them…”! All of these great heroes realized that the power was in them and they did bring to pass much righteousness. My prayer is that you will realize the power that is within YOU my fellow student. When you realize this, you will, without a doubt become a hero of today's history.