Freshman Studies Office

Summer Reading Essay Contest

    Life is full of scary crevasses….Finding resilience for surviving and thriving through adversity is part of everyone's climb. (The Ledge, p. 249).

College students need both grit (the ability to tough it out) and resiliency (the ability to bounce back from adversity) if they expect to persist and graduate. The summer reading book that our first-year students selected, The Ledge by Jim Davidson and Kevin Vaughan, shows us how grit and resiliency transformed a life-altering crisis on the icy surface of Mount Rainier. 

Write about a time when you or someone you know faced a situation that called for a profound degree of grit and resiliency. Be sure to describe the situation, share the transformational nature of the situation and explore the role that grit and resiliency played in the outcome. 

Additional guidance to consider while writing your essay
Before discussing that situation, articulate your understanding of grit and resiliency as they are depicted/exemplified in The Ledge. In other words, you're going to develop a deeper, more elaborated definition of grit and resilience, showing how you developed it by referencing the text. Use this new definition to analyze the role that grit and resiliency played in the outcome of your situation (or that of someone you know), especially to reflect on any ways that you were transformed in the process.  

Your essay will be evaluated using the following criteria:     

  1. Have you developed an insightful definition of grit and resilience based upon a careful reading of The Ledge?
  2. Have you cited passages (through paraphrase or direct quotation) from The Ledge that effectively make your point in #1?
  3. Have you used that definition of grit and resiliency to articulate how you (or someone you know) dealt with a challenging situation?
  4. Have you narrated key moments of your experience in a way that engages the reader and reveals the transformative nature of the experience?
  5. Is your language grammatically correct, with effective sentence structure?

Entries must be postmarked by August 7, 2015.  All submissions should be attached in Microsoft Word document and emailed to  Winners will be announced at Convocation on August 30, 2015.


  • First Place Winner will receive a $400 gift card to the SHU bookstore
  • Honorable Mentions will receive a $100 gift card to the SHU bookstore
Contact Us

Freshman Studies Office
(973) 761-9740
Mooney Hall

Sign In to PirateNet