National Day on Writing

Pen-to-paper Writing Contest

Winners and Finalists of the 3rd annual
Arnold H. Kossoff Pen-to-Paper Writing Contest


Thank you to everyone who participated in this year's Pen-to-Paper writing contest! We had over 50 people join in to our virtual award presentation, including Mrs. Kossoff, who shared how much her husband would have loved the event and reading all the pieces.


2020 Finalists and Winners

Graduate Category

Winner:  "Shamba" by Daphne Kiplagat 
1st runner up: "Sand in the Passenger Seat" by Samantha Trail
2nd runner up: "What is Hope?" by Maya Elias


Undergraduate Category

Winner: "Growth" by Marc Kaneko 
1st runner up: "Fit the Description" by Santonya Smith 
2nd runner up: "What’s in a Name" by Tomislav Lukic 



  …I’m still picking up a pencil and letting my thoughts flow onto a sheet of paper. …

I’ve been expressing myself in written essays since I was a teenager without wondering who might have an interest in them in the future. It’s been an outlet for me to reflect on events that have affected my life in over 70 years gone by. ... I’ve got a pile of essays documenting my efforts I graduated from college; entered the business world ...; discovered the wonderful girl who has given me almost 60 years of happiness and 2 lovely daughters; pursued a new career ..., and shared so many adventures thereafter with my family, friends, and others. But, I don’t have enough paper to present all of the marvelous days I’ve enjoyed.  

                                                                                           --Arnold Kossoff, "Tracks in the Sands of Time"


The Kossoff family has provided a generous donation to sponsor a university-wide writing contest in fond memory of Arnold Kossoff. Mr. Kossoff wrote daily, reflecting on life, happiness, truth, and more mundane concerns like the significance of his first car.


This annual writing contest is an opportunity for you to reflect on your life and values and to honor the memory of Arnold Kossoff.

Essays should be 450-650 words

Topics can be broad-ranging but must be focused and purposeful. We are open to any style of essay (personal, persuasive, expository, lyric, and so on) and hope contestants will be inspired by the spirit of Mr. Kossoff’s work.

Writing will be judged by staff from the University Center for Excellence in Writing who will narrow the pools to three finalists in the graduate and undergraduate categories from which a winner will be selected. 

In the spirit of Mr. Kossoff’s writing, essays will be evaluated on:

  • originality
  • clarity
  • thoughtfulness
  • significance
  • organization
  • development
  • impact
  • writing quality

There will be a $400 scholarship prize awarded to the best undergraduate and graduate essays (presuming at least 8 entries are submitted in each category). The prize will be dispersed via your FAU student account. The prize is not transferabe and cannot be awarded as cash, OWL Bucks/Flex Bucks, gift cards, etc.  Eligible writers must be currently enrolled students at the time of the award. Winning essays will be published in Coastlines Literary Journal and then made available online. 

Submit your entries to Arnold Kossoff Pen-to-Paper Contest Submissions, Fall 2020

The submission form will ask you to provide the following information:

Student status (undergraduate or graduate)
FAU Z Number
Submission Title
Phone #
Email Address
A file upload of your piece in .doc or .pdf format

On the essay itself, please only provide the essay's title and the last four digits of your phone number as the only identification.

Timeline for submission:

September 1: Contest officially opens university-wide.
October 1: Submission period ends.

You will find samples of Mr Kossoff’s writing linked below. 

April 12th, 2013 . . . Tracks in the Sands of Time

October 12th, 2002--"Hineni" . . . A Very Special Word to Me

7/25/94 . . . . . . A Very Special Friend, My Car!

July 23rd, 2001 -- "Who can You Trust?"


Archive of Previous Winners