Bicentennial Essay Contest

Southern Illinois Senior wins Academic Scholarship in Illinois REALTORS® Bicentennial Essay Contest

A Southern Illinois area high school student was among 23 scholarship winners in an essay contest that celebrates Illinois’ bicentennial.

Emma Nelson a home-schooled senior of Brookport, IL was awarded $750 toward academic expenses by submitting an essay on the theme “Home is Where the Heart Is.” Her entry was selected from among more than 450 essays submitted as part of the contest sponsored by Illinois REALTORS® as part of the association’s celebration of the state’s 200th birthday. (For a full list of winners, see page 2)

“We are so pleased to see the great talent from high school students throughout the state and most of all their interest in the Illinois Bicentennial,” said Vicky Turner, CRS, SRS, GRI, a Dixon REALTOR® and chair of the Illinois REALTORS® Bicentennial Task Force. “Both the quality and the quantity of the essays received strongly show the strength of our youth in Illinois and reinforce the importance this state plays in their lives.”

Nelson’s entry was judged a winner by a 10-member selection committee. In all, the association’s Bicentennial Task Force awarded one $1,000 scholarship, 11 scholarships for $750 and 11 scholarships for $250. A full list of winners can be found at

“It was a pleasure to award this scholarship to such a fine young lady.  She wrote a beautiful essay about the memories she has made in her ranch-style home, which holds a special place in her heart,” said Egyptian Board of REALTORS® representative.

The essay contest is one of several ways Illinois REALTORS®’ members are marking the state’s 200th birthday. Twenty-nine Local REALTOR® associations have undertaken service projects and fundraising efforts for historic properties throughout Illinois. Egyptian Board of REALTORS®provided some of the funding for the storyboards that tell the history of Bald Knob Cross.

On Aug. 26, the state association plans to open Bicentennial Plaza – A REALTOR® Community Partnership in Springfield. The pedestrian walkway which links Springfield’s historic sites will feature interpretive exhibits of people, places and events which connect with Abraham Lincoln’s vision for a nation of equal opportunity for all.

The Plaza’s grand opening is a Signature Event of the state’s Bicentennial Commission’s celebration of the birthday milestone.

Illinois REALTORS® is one of the state’s largest trade associations, representing more than 47,000 members engaged in all aspects of the real estate business.

Illinois REALTORS® Bicentennial Essay Contest winners 

Essay finalist: $1,000 

Hannah Young, Wheaton Academy, West Chicago 

Essay finalist: $750: 

Gabrielle Allen, Warrensburg-Latham High School, Warrensburg 
Jade Bellairs, Woodstock High School, Woodstock 
Bailey Brooks, Forreston Junior/Senior High School, Forreston 
Megan Coakley, Grant Community High School, Fox Lake  
Dillon Davey, Barrington High School, Barrington 
Kennedy Green, Sacred Heart-Griffin, Springfield 
Emma Nelson, homeschool student, Brookport 
Cooper Peterson, Glenwood High School, Chatham  
Amber Tomlin, Heyworth High School, Heyworth 
Clare Turano, Willows Academy, Des Plaines 
Camilla Vazquez, William Fremd High School, Palatine 

Essay finalist: $250: 

Kolten Conklen, Sterling High School, Sterling  
Miranda Dianovsky, The Chicago High School for the Arts, Chicago 
Sydney Minssen, Prophetstown High School, Prophetstown  
Michael Murray, Joliet Catholic Academy, Joliet  
Cecilia Nam, Vernon Hills High School, Vernon Hills  
MacKenzie Orozco, Belvidere North High School, Belvidere 
Andrew Ottoson, Waterloo High School, Waterloo 
Heidie Raine, Byron High School, Byron  
Kylee Rus, Sterling High School, Sterling 
Melissa Singleton, Mahomet-Seymour High School, Mahomet  
Ashley Wagge, Manteno High School, Manteno