Introducing the 2015 Anthem Essay Contest Winner

ARI has held worldwide essay contests for students on Ayn Rand’s fiction for more than thirty years. The goal is to expose young people to the thought-provoking ideas in Rand’s works. ARI is happy to announce the winner of the 2015 Anthem essay contest. Jessie Yates, a sophomore at Knob Noster High School in Knob Noster, Missouri, has been awarded the coveted top prize, $2,000 in cash.

ARI interviewed Yates about the contest and what she gained from the experience:

Q: How did you hear about the Anthem essay contest?

A: I heard about the Anthem essay contest from a school counselor. I had not heard of Anthem before being exposed to the essay contest. I entered mostly because my counselor expected me to do so. But, once I started reading the book, I was greatly intrigued.

Q: Had you read an Ayn Rand novel before the contest?

A: I didn’t know of Ayn Rand before the contest. This is the first time I have participated in the essay contest.

Q: Describe what you learned from the experience.

A: During this particular writing process, I learned that it’s often best to simply start writing, even if you don’t like what you’re writing yet. It’s also necessary to be able to tell yourself when enough is enough. Something else I hadn’t done before is having a great discussion about my opinions. I found it very beneficial to bounce my ideas, thoughts, and opinions off my dad. Then he would tell me his opinion, and I would be able to improve and clarify my opinion expressed in the essay.

Q: When did you hear you had won the contest?

A: I found out that I won on July 31st this summer. That day I was at my grandparents’ house. I read the email on my phone and thought, “It says that I won?” Then I was like, still in my thoughts, “Hey, I won. I WON!” Later that day, I showed my dad. When I turned my essay in, my dad didn’t think it was good enough to do very well. So when I told him, I actually said “Haha! It WAS good enough!”

Q: Do you plan to participate in future essay contests?

A: I am definitely going to read Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and enter that contest this year. Aside from the contest, I really enjoyed contemplating the ideas evoked by Anthem.

Q: Please share any final thoughts.

A: I would like to say that if a student, just like me, hears about and reads Anthem, he or she should enter! You can’t know how the contest will turn out. This goes for anything you might try, enter, or do. You might win. Somebody has to.

To read the winning essay, click here. For more information on the 2016 Anthem essay contest, visit