John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum Foundation Scholarship Essay Contest

“And so my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” – President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum Foundation invites Cape and Islands high school seniors every March to participate in an essay competition to explain the meaning of this famous quote from President Kennedy’s inaugural address, relating the quote to your civic engagement experiences.

 2022 Scholarship Recipients

(HYANNIS, MA) –May 20, 2022 – The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum Foundation announced this year’s essay winners, who each received $2,500 scholarships. Sadie LaBonte of Sandwich, a Barnstable High School student and Etzer Lindor, of South Dennis, a Cape Cod Technical High School student were selected from over a dozen submissions.

The Museum Foundation presents the scholarships to students based on essays that illuminate President Kennedy’s famous inaugural quote: “And so my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” High school seniors shared their personal interpretation of the quote, relating it to their civic engagement experiences, including how those opportunities helped them to become better citizens.

“The selection committee was so inspired by the stories of successfully overcoming challenges that Ms. LaBonte’s and Mr. Lindor’s essays rose to the top,” said Anne-Marie Litchfield, foundation vice-chair, and member of the review committee. “They give us great hope for the future,” she said.

“Scholarship funds were generated by donations of visitors to the museum and a gift made by a generous donor, said Wendy Northcross, executive director. “We are very pleased to have restored this important program,” she said.
The essays will be shared on www.jfkhyannismuseum.org.

The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum Foundation preserves and promotes the legacy of President Kennedy, his family, and their deep connection to Cape Cod. The museum located at 397 Main Street is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4 PM.

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 2022 Essay Winner Sadie LaBonte
and Museum Executive Director Wendy Northcross
2022 Essay Winner Etzer Lindor

Scholarship Essay by Etzer Lindor

And so my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do
for your country.” – President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

John F. Kennedy’s inaugural quote serves as a reminder that we must not focus solely on our
own interests, but also on how we can benefit the lives of others. Our world functions best when
it operates interdependently. So, it is in our collective interest to provide a helping hand to one
another, because as a society, we cannot thrive without each other.

Since the beginning of my freshman year, I have been blessed to be involved in SkillsUSA, a
student-led organization that promotes leadership and service among its members. As president
of my chapter and head of the leadership committee, I have had the privilege of working
alongside my local Habitat for Humanity and Salvation Army chapters to raise over $2,500 for
our community, as well as donating 15 bicycles to children living in Habitat homes. I’ve also had
the unique opportunity to become affiliated with the Be Like Brit Foundation, an organization
committed to providing food and education to the children of my home country of Haiti.

The work I do in my community is meaningful to me because it allows me to step outside of my
own world and become an agent of change in someone else’s. Although my journey as a high
school student will soon come to a close, my devotion to my community persists, because it is
only by continuing to ask what I can do for others that I can truly fulfill my promise to make a
positive difference in this world.

Etzer Lindor
March 31, 2022

Scholarship Essay by Sadie LaBonte

And so my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for
your country
”- President John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy spoke to America during a time of tremendous social unrest. The Civil Rights
Movement was at a fever pitch and war was the word of the day: The Cold War, the Nuclear
Arms War, the Vietnam War. Americans were jaded but they felt hope had come with their new,
young president. JFK’s inaugural speech was meant to inspire everyday Americans to have
compassion for their neighbors. With a fresh face and ideals aimed at a new generation,
Kennedy appealed to people to live their lives in a new way. Today his words seem as relevant
as they ever have been. With Russia invading Ukraine and threatening the use of hypersonic
missiles, turmoil over race relations, and deep political divisions polarizing the country it‘s hard
to see how 2022 is different from 1961.

With such struggle in the world it’s hard to know where to find neighborly compassion. A place
where I have felt community is Cotuit Center for the Arts. I have volunteered there for years and
have met and worked with kids struggling with depression, adults with disabilities and senior
citizens coping with loss and loneliness. For these people the Center is a place where they can
find hope.

I have been inspired by my time at the Center and plan to earn a masters degree in psychology.
My focus is on the accessibility of mental health for all. Connection between people is
necessary for the good of a population. I feel that I can connect with people through a career in
therapy and in that way I am doing exactly what JFK asked us to consider in his infamous
speech- to do what I can for my community and country.

Sadie LaBonte
March 18, 2022

About the Scholarship Essay Contest

Essay must include:

  • An introduction that outlines the main ideas of your essay, including your personal interpretation of President Kennedy’s famous Inaugural quote.
  • A description of your own civic engagement experiences and how those efforts relate to trying to make a difference in your community, state, and/or country.
  • Explain how these experiences will shape your future.
  • 150-250 words in length.

Award:

  • The winner may be asked to read their essay at the museum on President Kennedy’s birthday, May 29, subject to student availability. 
  • All contestants agree to allow the museum to publish their essays on the museum website.
  • Scholarship(s) will be paid to the student directly upon proof of acceptance to college or institution.
  • The deadline to apply is March 31, by sending an attachment containing the essay to wendy@jfkhyannismuseum.org.
  • Transmit by email the following information:
    • Student name
    • Home address
    • Cell phone number
    • Email address
    • College acceptance letter copy
    • Or attach a copy of your school’s scholarship application

The John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 (A1) non profit organization.

Have Questions? Contact Wendy Northcross, Museum Director at wendy@jfkhyannismuseum.org or call 508-790-3077 x 2.