Newsroom Archive


The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation Supports John Jay Student Essay Contest

Shelley and Donald RubinJohn Jay faculty judges gave awards to seven out of the fifty-six students who participated in an innovative essay contest started by John Matteson, then Director of the Honors College, and further developed by Director of Faculty Affairs & Academic Integrity Officer Kevin Nesbitt. The one-of-a-kind essay contest, which was made possible by the generosity of The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, was interdisciplinary and open to all John Jay students. It required participating students to conduct research and write about a piece or pieces of art in the Rubin Museum of Art through the eye of justice and, in particular, to think about John Jay as it turns 50 in 2014 and how meanings of justice have changed over time.

The top prize winners were Polina Boman (1st prize, $3,000), George Anderson (2nd prize, $2,000), Nicolas Montano (3rd prize, $1,000), including four honorable mentions, Vitali Kremez, Elena Dain, Chassity Whitman, and Megan McCarthy, with prizes of $500 each.

The essay contest, administered by the Office of Fellowship and Scholarship Opportunities, is part of a larger partnership between the College and the Rubin Museum, known as the Baruch-Rubin partnership, created two years ago between Baruch College and the Rubin Museum. That relationship has expanded to include other schools, such as John Jay, where it promotes the use of the museum and its collections to connect with John Jay’s mission of educating for justice and to broaden the academic experience at John Jay.

Within the partnership, the essay contest is unique to John Jay College. The partnership helps John Jay faculty enhance and enrich curricula and our students to expand their educational horizons. The contest provides a vehicle to promote faculty-student engagement and encourage both to visit, and use, the museum. Students then work with faculty and administrators to develop topics for their essays.

“Central to the success of the essay-competition is the supportive staff and educational partnership team at the Rubin. When students and/or faculty visit the Rubin, its staff contextualizes the experience through historical and tactile exchanges with the collection. The essay competition is another example of the extraordinary ways in which the Rubin-John Jay relationship has tapped into a human need--the ability to have multi-textured ways to understand our world and the issues we struggle to make sense of as lifelong learners,” said Kevin Nesbitt, Partnership Liaison and Director of Faculty Affairs/Academic Integrity Officer.

In the opening ceremony of Research and Creativity Week, April 29-May 3, the essay contest winners delivered presentations on their papers followed by a poster board discussion session.

To learn more about essay contest winners and their Research Week presentations, click here.

Students interested in entering in the next essay contest should contact the Office of Fellowship and Scholarship Opportunities in late fall at 646.557.4804 or connect through Facebook at

About the Rubin Museum of Art: The RMA holds one of the world’s most important collections of Himalayan art. Paintings, pictorial textiles, and sculpture are drawn from cultures that touch upon the arc of mountains that extends from Afghanistan in the northwest to Myanmar (Burma) in the southeast and includes Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, and Bhutan. The larger Himalayan cultural sphere, determined by significant cultural exchange over millennia, includes Iran, India, China, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia. This rich cultural legacy, largely unfamiliar to Western viewers, offers an uncommon opportunity for visual adventure and aesthetic discovery.