The John Locke Institute holds an annual essay competition that encourages students from all over the globe to write critical, thought-provoking essays. Out of 19,000 candidates, only a small number are shortlisted and asked to visit a conference in Oxford, England. The competition asks students to choose from a wide variety of essay topics, ranging from economics to theology. The essays are judged by a panel of senior academics from Oxford and Princeton, who then choose the shortlisted entrees. This year, Molloy senior Bridget Jiang ‘24 was one of those students!
Bridget has been writing for years, submitting work to be featured in different publications since her freshman year at Molloy. Her interest in submitting to the John Locke Global Essay Contest piqued when she read prompt number two for the Theology category, If you cannot persuade your intelligent, sympathetic friends to embrace your religious belief system, do you have enough reason to believe what you believe? Feeling inspired, Bridget wrote about “the challenges for the persuader to post an argument and challenges imposed by the audience,” and that “persuasion is insufficient in determining the validity of a religion.” She concludes, “The validity of one’s own religious beliefs rests on internal coherence and personal conviction.”
As a writer whose essay was shortlisted, Bridget was invited to attend the award ceremony at the University of Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre, a gala reception at the Ashmolean Museum, and an invite-only academic conference led by academics from Oxford and Cambridge! Because of Bridget’s essay topic, she was invited to lectures on the philosopher Hume and his argument for miracles, as well as seminars in theology. She also had the opportunity to debate students from around the world, defending her essay argument and countering the arguments of others. At the ceremony, she was awarded a Commendation.
Bridget said she was grateful for the contest and the opportunities it afforded. “It was a really interesting experience, and I couldn’t believe that I was shortlisted for something so prestigious!” She continued, “The contest also really helped strengthen my persuasive writing skills and helped prepare me for the writing I’ll be doing in college.” Congratulations on your achievements, Bridget!