In this year’s annual essay competition, 40 District of Columbia Housing Authority interns wrote about their desires to change society, who they admired, and what leadership means to them.
All participants in the Summer Youth Employment and Do Your B.E.S.T. Summer Youth programs were invited to participate in the annual competition that encourages the young people to pursue their academics and inspires them to do more in the future.
“I always love this part of the summer. We get to celebrate budding authors and others receiving merit for their writing skills and their message,” said DCHA Executive Director Adrianne Todman.
She then quoted Calvin Coolidge when she said, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, ‘Press On,’ has solved and always will solve the problem of the human race.”
Todman added, “If you work hard at something you love, you will feel successful. It is so important for all of you to hear that.”
Each student was tasked with writing an essay on one of three topics: If you could change one thing in today’s society, what would it be, and how will today’s society benefit from the change; If you can be anyone in the world (past or present), who would it be, why and what would you do different or alike; or What makes a leader; are they born that way, made through mentorship and experience or both? Explain what a leader should look like. Explain how she/he should make their presence known in today’s society.
First place winner Destine Freeman, who interns in the Office of Administration Services, said he would change “the way police officers and people communicate” in a way that would not be “inciting or leading to violence in the world.”
In his essay he referred to the shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge as an example of a situation that should have been handled in a much different manner. He said that “each side is viewing each other with negative connotations” instead of trying to find the good in the other one.
Kevin Godfrey, second place winner and an intern in the Office of Public Safety, chose Malcolm X as the person to emulate. He drew parallels between Malcolm X’s experience and quest for education to his own life.
He said, “The struggle for equality still exists in 2016.” Godfrey said he wanted to go college to learn everything he could to bring back to his community at Woodland Terrace. He would share his education to help inspire them, he said.
“Education is the passport to the future,” he said.
All participants were given a $50 gift card and certificate. The top 10 essays also were given a $100 award.