Rochester AAUW Announces Essay Contest Winners

And the winners are…

The Rochester branch of the American Association of University Women announces the winners of the 2015 Eighth Grade Essay Contest.

Winners of the Eighth Grade Essay Contest from left to right: Geetanjali Rastogi, Leighann Heim, Ryan Mathews, Helayna Shackelford, Nicolette Patsarikas, Sydney Reed

Winners of the Eighth Grade Essay Contest from left to right: Geetanjali Rastogi, Leighann Heim, Ryan Mathews, Helayna Shackelford, Nicolette Patsarikas, Sydney Reed

Ryan Mathews, a student at Van Hoosen Middle School, is the first place winner with his essay about Mother Teresa. Ryan has always believed that being a good student was a key to success. Reading the life story of Mother Teresa, however, altered his perspective and he now plans to “dedicate my medical career to provide services to those who are underserved.”

Helayna Shackelford, a student at Hart Middle School, is the second place winner with her essay about the gymnast Gabby Douglas. Helayna observed that “Gabby Douglas showed me that it doesn’t matter how old you are or what color you are, you can achieve your goals, if you work hard and are persistent.”

Nicolette Patsarikas, a student at Van Hoosen Middle School, is the third place winner with her essay about Mrs. Mary Tangalos who was instrumental in helping Nicolette overcome her fear of public speaking. Nicolette shared how Mrs. Mary guided her through a speech festival thus giving her confidence in speaking that “will benefit me for the rest of my life in school and my career.”

Geetanjali Rastogi, a student at Van Hoosen Middle School, is the winner of the Kathy Watson Memorial Award for her essay about her mother. Geetanjali’s goal is to be a doctor like her mother, a doctor who works hard to care for her patients while also devoting time to the care of her family. Geetanjali ended her essay by saying “although I take pride in calling her my mother, I cannot wait until I have achieved all of these goals so that she can take pride in calling me her daughter.”

Sydney Reed, a student at Van Hoosen Middle School, is an honorable mention winner for her essay about her mother. Sydney spoke of the constant support she has received from her mother as well as the times she was humbled when she became too cocky. “Most importantly, she always tells me to strive for my goals. Her guidance keeps me focused on the important things in life.”

Leighann Heim, a student at Van Hoosen Middle School, is an honorable mention winner for her essay about her piano teacher, Mrs. Katherine Hedlund. Seeing how her teacher has gone through struggles in her life, Leighann has gained the confidence to work for her goals with a positive attitude. “Mrs. Katherine Hedland shows me that being confident and positive during life’s hardships ultimately make you a better person.”

Congratulations to this year’s winners and to the other 61 students who shared their stories. The world is sure to be a better place as you move into leadership roles.

Thank you to Claire Poynter from the Rochester Hills Public Library and Jennifer Sunderhaus from the Auburn Hills Public Library for sharing your stories about a significant woman in your life.

The eighth-grade essay contest about “A Woman of Significance to Me” is sponsored annually by the Rochester branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Students living in the Rochester and Avondale school districts are invited to submit their essays. Additional sponsors of the contest are the Rochester Hills Public Library and the Auburn Hills Public Library.

About Sarah Hovis

Word manipulator, arts appreciator, sports spectator, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at [email protected].

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