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Undergrad Essay on 9/11 Part of White House Interfaith Challenge

Winners of the President

From left, Stephen Patrick (C'13), Vivian Ojo (SFS'14), Kieran Halloran (SFS'14) and Colleen Tapen (NHS'13), who all participated in Georgetown's version of the President Obama's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge essay contest.

December 14, 2011 – Georgetown’s winning essay as part of a contest for President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge is by a student who lost his father in the Sept. 11 attacks.

The contest at the university focused on living as “men and women for others.”

“While this experience fostered the greatest amount of anger and hatred that I have ever felt in my life, it has also, through a roundabout way, fostered the greatest motivation to love and serve others that I have,” Kieran Halloran (SFS’14) wrote in his winning essay.

The student stays active with the Knights of Columbus, Campus Ministry and the Center for Social Justice through the Hoyas Global Initiative. He also helps out with a weekly adoration with the Catholic Student Association.

The winning essays touched on how each student’s religious background and spiritual journey at Georgetown affect how they give back and embrace people of different backgrounds, culture and faiths.

Stephen Patrick (C’13), who won second place in the contest, wrote about what it is like being a Mormon attending a Catholic university.

He wrote that he initially worried he might not fit in, but that his fears dissipated after discovering how many diverse religions and faiths are represented at Georgetown. “I have found that religions have so much in common – like the focus on love and service, faithfulness and devotion,” Patrick wrote. “I [am] surrounded by people who value hard work and service.”

Reflection and Promise

To be considered for the challenge, students submitted a two-to-four-minute video or a written essay of up to 2,000 words. For those who participated in the contest, it was a perfect excuse for much-needed reflection.

“This essay was just one of those moments in life when you put pen to paper to truly explore and challenge those ideas and beliefs that have been floating around in your head,” said Vivian Ojo (SFS’14), who tied for third place with Colleen Tapen (NHS’13). “We hardly ever stop to think philosophically about the spiritual and emotional things we do.”

The essays also implied lasting promises to service.

“I am confident that no matter my path after Georgetown, I will continue to be a woman for others,” Tapen wrote. “I am a Hoya, and I will make a difference in the world.”

The winning entries can be viewed here.

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