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University of Texas at Austin
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Latino History Essay Competition FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

  • The essay guidelines specify original research - what does this mean?

An essay based on original research should add material to the historical record of Latinos in Texas. This could mean focusing on an individual who is not well-known outside your own community, but who made important contributions in culture, in education, in politics, etc. Those contributions might have affected primarily your community, or they might have also had a broader impact in Texas.

Original research could also mean focusing on a person or group who played an important but not necessarily widely known role in a larger event or movement.

  • What type of research should I focus on?

Firsthand accounts are the best sources - look for opportunities to conduct an interview with your subject. If your subject is deceased, find people who knew or worked with him or her and interview them.

You should also search for supporting primary sources of information such as letters, speeches, newspaper articles from the time you are researching, etc.

Secondary sources such as encylopedias and history books can be helpful in finding and documenting primary sources, as well as finding material that provides context and background.

  • How do I begin?

Once you've selected a potential topic, secondary references can help you find primary source material, as noted above. Consult your teachers for guidance. Librarians can also be important resources in helping you find and document your sources.

  • Can I use the Internet?

The Internet is a valuable tool for research - some primary source documents are available online, and there are websites that contain useful reference material. HOWEVER, your essay should not be based entirely on Internet sources. Extra consideration will be given to works that include first-person interviews and documentation that is not readily available on the Internet.

Remember also that personal websites can be unreliable sources of information. Information gained from a personal website must be corroborated with a more reliable source.

  • Do I need an annotated bibliography?

Only a bibliography is required, not an annotated version. However, you might want to consider the use of an annotated bibliography, since it could be helpful to judges in better understanding the elements of your research.

  • If I am selected as a state finalist, am I guaranteed scholarship money? If I receive a state medal (1st place - 6th place), am I guaranteed scholarship money?

No. Students who are selected as state finalists and medalists are not guaranteed a monetary award. Instead, all state finalists are automatically eligible to apply for the hundreds of scholarships available through the Texas Interscholastic League Foundation:

Students selected as state finalists are highly encouraged to apply for TILF scholarships as seniors. If a student is a finalist before he or she is a senior, that student should wait until being a senior to apply.