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The goals of the Matters of Life & Death Scholarship Writing Contest are to help California students develop awareness of the issues surrounding aid in dying and to financially assist college-bound scholars.

To participate in the Matters of Life & Death Scholarship Writing Contest you must meet the following requirements:

  • Currently attending a California high school (or home-school),
  • Currently a high school junior or senior,
  • Planning to pursue a degree at an accredited college in the United States, and
  • United States citizen or Permanent Resident of the United States.

$1,000 for First Place,
$500 for Second Place, and
$250 for Third Place

Each applicant must answer the question:

Why should a mentally competent, terminally ill adult family member have the right to choose aid in dying? What would you say to another family member who disagrees?

Use the “Useful Information” (below) to familiarize yourself with the issue of aid in dying; including appropriate terminology for your essay. Be creative with your writing, well organized, concise and clear, and show familiarity with the issue.

Please follow these guidelines when submitting your entry:

  1. Submit a typewritten essay, no more than 1,000 words, in Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF. The essay must be in 12-point Times New Roman font and single-spaced.

  2. In the same document, provide a cover page with the following information:
    Your name, address, phone number, email address, school’s name, your grade level, and number of words in your essay (word count should not include the cover page, title, or bibliography).

    NOTE:  Do not send the cover page and essay as two documents. They should be submitted as one single document.

  3. When saving the document, name the file as “your last name, your first name” (for example, “Washington, George.doc”).

  4. All entries must be submitted by email no later than May 1, 2014. Email your entries to ncaessay@compassionandchoices.org and in the email subject line, write: “your last name, your first name”.

When writing your essay, keep in mind:

  • Use correct use of terminology (see Language Matters link below);
  • Essays are judged on creativity, quality, organization, clarity, and familiarity with the issue;
  • Do not plagiarize. If you quote from a source, cite the source (either in a bibliography or footnote);
  • Good, fresh writing has no cliches;
  • As you write your essay, show us your understanding of the essay question;
  • Remember: this is not a term paper—your creativity counts, and
  • Re-read your essay (and ask someone else to), to see if every sentence adds strength to your essay.

Winners will be selected and notified by May 31, 2014. Winners will be featured in the Compassion & Choices Northern California newsletter and Web site. The first-place winner may be invited to present the winning essay at a public meeting. All other applicants will receive an email by the same date notifying them of our results.

Copyright: All entries submitted to the Matters of Life & Death Scholarship Writing Contest become the sole property of Compassion & Choices Northern California.

Reservation: Compassion & Choices Northern California reserves the right to not award prizes.

Parental Consent: Your parent/guardian must sign a consent/release form before you can be declared a winner. We will send this form only to those notified of having been selected as a winner.
Compassion & Choices Northern California seeks to educate terminally-ill individuals and their families about their rights to a dignified, humane, and peaceful death. We provide services appropriate to a diverse community with a focus on comfort care and pain management. Additionally, we strive to increase awareness of, and access to, the full range of end-of-life choice by educating the public at large and by advocating for change to existing laws. For more information please visit www.compassionandchoicesnca.org.

For more information about the Matters of Life & Death Scholarship Writing Contest, please visit www.compassionandchoicesnca.org/essay.php.

Compassion & Choices Northern California believes mentally competent people with terminal illnesses should be able to ask their doctor to prescribe medication which they can, if they choose, self-ingest to achieve a peaceful death. Below is useful information to familiarize yourself with aid in dying; including appropriate terminology for your essay:

  • Appropriate Terminology:
    When talking or writing about end-of-life choices, the use of appropriate language matters. Find out why it is important to use appropriate terminology in the links below. Always use aid in dying in your essay instead of physician aid in dying, assisted dying, physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia. (All forms of euthanasia are illegal throughout the United States.)
  • In the Cause(s) of Justice from the Huffington Post blog
  • ‘Aid in Dying’ Movement Takes Hold in Some States from The New York Times
  • Accepting Applications for the Matters of Life & Death Scholarship Contest
    Please click here to find out about upcoming events planned for 2013 and 2014.

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