Ayn Rand Grand Prize Winner, Ashley Yuen

Image via Ashley Yuen

Image via Ashley Yuen

One thousand one hundred and forty-one. That is the number of words in Ayn Rand Grand Prize Winner Senior Ashley Yuen’s first place essay.  

In May, Advanced Placement Language and Composition teacher, Beri Harris, informed students about a global Ayn Rand essay contest, where Yuen ultimately placed first taking home the $2,000 grand prize. Students were asked to write an essay answering a prompt based on author Ayn Rand’s Anthem, a dystopian novel emphasizing the need to preserve individuality. 

“When I am presented with new opportunities, I don’t want to just reject them,” Yuen said. “I want to try them out even though I don’t know what’s going to happen. I always try to do the best I can in what I’m passionate about.”

Yuen’s essay explored the novella’s events through different perspectives and formed deeper connections within the text. She analyzed how Equality’s, a character from Anthem viewpoints fluctuate throughout the story and contrast to those of society today. 

“I wasn’t totally surprised that Ashley had won,” Harris said. “I remember reading her essay and I was blown away by it. So I’m not that shocked, but still to win a global writing contest, I mean that is incredible!” 

Hitting writer’s block multiple times throughout the process, Yuen found taking breaks from writing to focus on other activities most helpful. Whether it was eating a snack or watching videos, she appreciated the moments that allowed her to unwind her brain and compose her thoughts. 

“I’m sometimes hard on myself and think I can always improve and do better,” Yuen said. “I had no idea I would win the grand prize or even place at all. I wanted to just put [my essay] out there and see what happens.”

Seniors Eiman Leung and Annie Wang also submitted their Anthem essays to the Ayn Rand contest and placed as finalists. To read Ashley Yuen’s essay in its entirety click the link here.