Student Writers: The Mayborn Could Be An Impressive Part Of Your College App

Young Spurs of 2014 included two Youth Journalism International reporters. Here, the group stands with author Bryan Burrough, who led the group of young writers last summer. (YJI)
If you are a student at a high school or community college in the United States and want to inject excitement, inspiration and purpose into your writing, consider entering the Young Spurs competition.

The Young Spurs is a contest held each year through the Mayborn Literary NonfictionConference. 

2014 Young Spurs and YJI reporters Kiernan Majerus-Collins of Connecticut on the left and Johanna Boedenauer of Georgia on the right, with Pulitzer Prize- winning journalist and author Sheri Fink. (YJI)

The Mayborn, which is put on by the University of North Texas, is held each July at a swanky hotel in Dallas.
This year, the 11th annual conference, is July 17-19. But the fancy digs aren’t the best part of the amazing weekend.
The best part is the people you’ll meet at the Mayborn. They’re dedicated to the craft of writing, to making their work better and some of the friendliest, most welcoming folks around.
Young people who like to write can enter a piece of narrative historical non-fiction, from five to 20 pages in length, with sources, to compete for a chance to take part in the Mayborn for free.
It’s not an easy task, but it isn’t supposed to be a breeze. Put your mind and heart to the task and you can do it.
Judges will select 10 winners from the entry pool of young writers. Those lucky students will get attend the conference, but for a full day before that, they’ll get to work in a small group setting with an acclaimed professional writer on their winning stories.

YJI co-founders Steve Collins and Jackie Majerus flank George Getschow, the brains and heart of the Mayborn. (YJO)

Ultimately those pieces will be published in the prestigious Dallas Morning News.

After their one-day workshop, the student writers join professional writers in listening to incredible speakers – accomplished writers who are among the best in the business. During the conference the speakers are also often accessible for questions and discussion.

The Mayborn theme this year is the great divide between the Haves and the Have-Nots in American society and the social, economic, racial, cultural and political fissures created by this divide.

YJI writer Katie Lothrop won the Young Spurs contest in 2012 and 2013. In this 2013 photo she is with biographer James McGrath Morris, who led the group of young writers that summer. (YJI)

Students, not only is it a thrilling experience to go to the Mayborn, learn, improve and be published, but you earn a national writing award.
That’s a pretty impressive bullet point on any college application or resume.
Even more, though, you’ll likely meet friends for life that weekend. There’s something about the spirit of the Mayborn, the idea that all the writers there are part of a “tribe” no matter their age or
At YJI, we know this from experience since three of our students have had the honor of being part of the Mayborn. All of them found it an amazing, life changing experience. You can, too.
What are you waiting for? Go to this link for more details and get writing. Your entry is due March 31. Good luck!
Your tax-deductible contribution can help support this nonprofit at