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Winners announced for Thomas Jefferson essay contest

The three winners of the contest, endowed by the late Philip L. Carret, were celebrated at a March 7 banquet. 

Students Annaliese Jaffe, Greg Fulcher and Julia Guilfoyle have been selected as winners of the 18th annual Philip L. Carret Endowment Thomas Jefferson Essay Contest. The students were honored at a banquet held March 7. 

Winners of the 2017 Philip L. Carret Endowment Thomas Jefferson Essay Contest are, from left, Julia Guilfoyle '17, Annaliese Jaffe '18 and Greg Fulcher '17. 

The 10 students who participated in this year's competition wrote about the following: 

On March 4, 1801, Thomas Jefferson gave his first presidential inaugural address after a bruising, contested election involving painful personal attacks as well as 36 separate ballots in the House of Representatives. Over 200 years later and after a bruising election of his own, Donald Trump faced a divided nation when he gave his address on Jan. 20, 2017.

Compare these two men’s inaugural speeches addressing their rhetorical styles, specific arguments, and/or receptions after their delivery. What, in your view, are the most significant differences between the two, and what might these differences suggest about the changing values of our nation?

Essays were to be between 1,500 and 2,000 words and to be accompanied by a 300-word summary. The American Studies Advisory Board evaluated all submissions for depth of insight, felicity of expression, creativity of approach, rigor of research and power of argumentation. The contest is coordinated by Cassie Kircher, professor of English. 

The 2017 winners, who were honored at a banquet held March 7 in the Isabella Cannon Room in the Center for the Arts are:

First Place Winner: Annaliese Jaffe
Yardley, Pennsylvania
Junior (English with teacher licensure)

Jaffe's essay was titled, "This American Carnage: Donald Trump, Thomas Jefferson and the Rise of Anti-Intellectualism in the United States." She won the $1,000 prize and an all-expenses-paid trip to Thomas Jefferson’s home in Monticello, Virginia.

Second Place Winner: Greg Fulcher
Queens, New York
Senior (English)

Fulcher's essay was titled, "Exceptionalism and the Modern American Consciousness: Comparing the First Inaugural Addresses of Thomas Jefferson and Donald Trump." He received the $500 second place award. 

Third Place Winner: Julia Guilfoyle
Senior (History and International Studies)

Guilfoyle's essay was titled "Fear, Disunity, Discord and Reunifying a Divided Nation: America and the World's Reception of Thomas Jefferson and Donald Trump's First Inaugural Addresses." She received the $100 third place award. 

In addition, the three winners wll present their ideas at a Carret-themed session on Student Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF) Day on April 25. 

The Philip L. Carret Thomas Jefferson Essay Competition is an endowed essay contest created in 1997 when Carret, a longtime New York investor, fell in love with Elon University after a visit to campus the previous year. Carret promoted the contest to have students reflect on the ideals and principles embodied in Thomas Jefferson's life and career.

Owen Covington,
3/9/2017 1:20 PM