Dominican University

Dominican University Sister Mary Ellen O’Hanlon Essay Prize in Social Justice and Diversity

Dominican University Sister Mary Ellen O’Hanlon Essay Prize in Social Justice and Diversity


Sr. Mary Ellen O’Hanlon (1882-1961) was a pioneer in working for racial equality in the mid-twentieth century. She used her expertise as a scientist to counter prevailing notions of the time about the supposed “genetic inferiority of the negro.” While a professor at Rosary College—now Dominican University—she worked on social justice and diversity initiatives with various individuals and social action groups in Chicago, including Dr. Percy and Anna Julian of Oak Park. She was especially concerned that higher education institutions not promote misinformation, biases, and distorted views of other races and called for a review of textbooks and other teaching materials. This essay contest honors the work of Sister Mary Ellen, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others in the ongoing dialogue about and struggle for social justice and diversity in America and abroad. Each year, in anticipation of its annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration, Dominican University invites undergraduate students to submit essays on themes related to social justice and diversity.

Recent Submissions

  • Zwijack, Jamie
    This essay is a reflection of my experience at Dominican University as it relates to the four pillars on which the university is based. I touch on study, prayer, community and service as they became apparent in my own life ...
  • Skeehan, Willa
    This essay is about my journey to Cuernavaca and social justice. It describes how this study abroad opportunity changed my life. This experience helped me to gain a deeper understanding of how education is related to the ...
  • Holtzman, Branden
    This essay addresses the growing lack of socioeconomic diversity in our communities and its subsequent effect on communities’ ability or inability to adequately, equally, and fairly fund a public education system for our ...
  • Pryce, Gabrielle
    "In Search of Me: A Global Perspective on Race and Identity" highlights the various perspectives on what it means to be a "black" individual in different countries. The essay highlights my experiences as a black woman in ...

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