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The Book of Unknown Americans



Past Events

Essay Contest


Previous College Books

Nomination Form
nominations for
2018-19 are now CLOSED


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2017-18 Essay Contest
[printable pdf]

After their daughter, Maribel, suffers a traumatic brain injury, Alma and Arturo bring her from Mexico to the United States in pursuit of specialized education that they hope will aid in her recovery. The family settles in a Delaware apartment complex where they meet a diverse cast of Latin American immigrants. Among them are the Toros, a Panamanian family that includes a teenaged son who falls in love with Maribel. The memorable characters and events in The Book of Unknown Americans convey the allure and the disillusionment of the American Dream and remind readers that every dreamer has a story.

Chaffey’s One Book, One College Committee invites you to tell your own story in an essay that relates to the 2017-2018 College Book. You might write about a time you took a risk, left your old life behind, or pursued the American Dream. You can describe an instance when you felt homesick, out of your element, lost, or misunderstood. You may choose to share an anecdote about your first day at a new job, buying a car, falling in love, coming of age, or experiencing some other life-changing event. You can relate a tale of pride or guilt, lying to or disappointing a parent, struggling to make ends meet, exploring a new culture, helping a stranger, or feeling a sense of community. In fact, you are welcome to submit any essay that clearly connects with The Book of Unknown Americans.

Deadline: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 by 1:00 pm

Submit a hard copy of your essay to Mary Thomas in Language Arts Room 107 on the Rancho Campus any time before the deadline. Late submissions and entries by email will not be accepted. Please do not write your name on the essay; instead, include a separate cover sheet with the title and your name, phone number, email address, and student ID number. Please also include the title on page one of your essay and number your pages. Essays should be between two and five double-spaced pages and will be judged on originality, compelling content, and the quality of written expression.

Up to ten finalists will receive a cash prize and will read their essays at an awards ceremony on Monday, April 16th, 2018 from 6-8 pm in Student Life (CCE).

For more information, contact Professor Neil Watkins (652-6952,
or Professor Deckard Hodge (652-6924,

Rev. 9/14/17

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