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James "Rhio" O'Connor Memorial Scholarship Essay Contest

The James "Rhio" O'Connor Memorial Scholarship Fund offers an essay contest open to all college students. The essay's subject, cancer, is inspired by Rhio O'Connor's battle against the disease. Rhio O'Connor was diagnosed with a deadly mesothelioma and given a year to live. Instead of giving up he found his own path to health and outlived his prognosis by more than six years. 

Undergraduate and graduate students at colleges and universities in the United States are invited to honor Rhio's spirit of self determination and intellectual curiosity by writing an essay.

Writing Prompt

Please write an essay about how Rhio’s story inspires you and what you would do if you faced the same challenges that he faced. What steps would you take if you were given a dire cancer prognosis? How would you conduct your research and make an informed decision when choosing a treatment? Would you look beyond chemotherapy, radiation and surgery if they had little to offer? Do you think alternative approaches should be accessible to you? What should be done to improve progress in curing or preventing cancer and giving cancer patients the greatest chance of survival?

Essay Length

The essay must be no fewer than 700 and no more than 1,500 words in length.

Award Amounts

$5,000 First Prize
$2,000 Second Prize
$1,000 Third Prize
$500 Fourth Prize
$100 Fifth Prize
$75 Honorable Mention (there are thirty Honorable Mention awards)

Students can receive more information and request an application packet at this website: