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Cost and Financial Aid

Jan Egerton & Don Smitley Mesothelioma Scholarship

Important Dates and Deadlines


  • Essay submissions open: Mar. 7, 2018
  • Essay submissions close: Mar. 25, 2018
  • Essay judging complete: Apr. 18, 2018
  • Top 4 finalists notified: Apr. 21, 2018
  • Public voting period opens: Apr. 24, 2018
  • Public voting period closes: May 11, 2018
  • Winners contacted by: May 15, 2018
  • Winners announced: May 16, 2018


    This essay contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students who are 18-years-old or older and are currently enrolled in a college or university located within the 50 United States or the District of Columbia. U.S. territories are excluded.

    Previous first place winners are not eligible for participation.

    Essay Topic

    Mesothelioma is a terminal cancer diagnosed in close to 3,000 Americans each year. The only established cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Most victims were unwittingly exposed to asbestos at work or while serving in the military. Still others developed mesothelioma through exposure from family members coming home from work with their clothes covered in asbestos fibers.

    Unfortunately, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the annual number of mesothelioma deaths is increasing. According to experts, over 20 million people in the United States are at risk of developing malignant mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure.

    We believe it is important to get the facts out about mesothelioma and asbestos exposure, and especially, to help educate young Americans. Please address some or all of the following questions in your essay:

    • Share your personal story dealing with asbestos disease or cancer. Talk about how it affected your life and how/whether it impacted your education/career choice.
    • What do you hope to do with the education you are receiving to help cancer patients?
    • Why is raising awareness and educating the public about the dangers of asbestos and the impact of mesothelioma on a family important?
    • What would you say to someone who is fighting mesothelioma or to a family member who recently lost a loved one to the disease?

    Essay Length

    The essay must be no fewer than 750 and no more than 1,500 words long.


    • Essays will be judged by Jennifer Gelsick, former caregiver for her father, Don Smitley, who passed away from mesothelioma in October 2013, and Lisa Hyde-Barrett, a thoracic surgery nurse.
    • Submissions will be judged on content, correctness of facts, grammar, style, and originality.
    • Judges will look for clear, original essays that are logically organized and well-supported.

    Selection Process

    Due to the popularity of social media and the ability to reach a wide number of people to educate them about mesothelioma, this year’s contest will include a public voting aspect. The judges will select the top 4 essays through the criteria listed above. The top four finalists will then have an opportunity to use social media to help determine their final placement.

    A page will be created on for the essays. A link to the essays will be provided to the finalists when they are notified of their placement.

    The top four winners will be notified on the dates found on the sidebar on the right and will have three weeks to garner votes for their essays and to request citations (links) from other academic sources. Finalists should encourage their friends and families to read their essays through sharing on Facebook, Google+ or via Twitter postings. A specific #hashtag will be used to track the activity.

    The winners will be determined by a combination of the number of votes for their essays and for the number of citations (links) from other academic works. Note that links are weighted more heavily than votes and each citation counts as 100 votes. Please note that we reserve the right to exclude any websites from the final tally that we deem inappropriate or irrelevant.

    At conclusion of the voting period, the top five finalists will be selected and notified.