Last summer, Alexis Stinger, like all incoming La Salle University freshmen, was given a writing assignment before she even arrived on campus. As part of the University’s The Essential Question initiative, all freshmen were required to write an essay based on the initiative’s topic—“As members of a Lasallian community, what is our moral obligation to promote economic justice in our city, in our country, and in the global community to which we are inevitably tied?” Stinger was shocked when she learned her essay was chosen from more than 700 submissions.
“When I learned I had a writing assignment to complete over summer, I wanted to make sure I did a good job with it because it was my first assignment for college,” said Stinger a nursing major from Pennsauken, N.J. “I turned my essay in, and honestly I forgot about the essay until I found out that mine was chosen—I was so surprised and happy.”
The prize for having her essay selected is a $6,000 scholarship called the Brother Daniel Burke Essay Scholarship Award, named for the Christian Brother who served both as University President and founded the La Salle University Art Museum.
For the essay, freshmen could choose to write about a moral obligation to promote economic justice within one of the three themes of The Essential Question—the city of Philadelphia, our country, or our global community. Stinger chose to write about the global challenge of health care. “My grandmother and my mother are nurses, and I plan to be one as well, so this topic interested me the most because it plays a key role in my future,” she said.
Stinger’s essay on global health care was based on the question, “Given the current economic recession in America, what obligation do you think Americans have to address the health crises of those living in developing nations? Does our government have an obligation to help Americans first or should it be looking beyond our borders to help those in developing nations face disease, violence, and natural disasters?”
In her essay Stinger wrote, “Yet contrary to belief, I feel the United States cannot fully give to others until it has fully given to itself. Now, to some this may seem selfish or outright egotistical. I am all for helping those in need, but why flee the country to help when your own people need you?”
In comparison, Stinger discussed the pre-flight emergency instructions on an airplane. “The one segment advises you that if oxygen masks are lowered, to be sure to secure them on yourself before helping any fellow passengers,” Stinger wrote. “At first you might think, ‘that’s selfish,’ but if you didn’t take that oxygen for yourself how would you be able to help anyone else?”
Stinger took her essay to heart this May when she and 17 other La Salle students volunteered with Habitat for Humanity as part of a University service trip that built houses in Dade City, Fla. “It was such a great experience,” she said. “I’ve done service projects before, but this was my first with La Salle; and I hope to do more.”