State essay contest winners announced at UH Manoa College of Arts and Sciences Nisei Forum

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Arikka Johnson, (808) 956-5790
College of Arts and Sciences
Posted: Mar 17, 2006

HONOLULU — Winners of the 2006 VALUES FOR LIFE statewide high school essay contest were announced March 9 at the UH Mānoa College of Arts and Sciences‘ bi-annual Universal Values for a Democratic Society—Nisei Veterans Endowed Forum Series held at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaiʻi. The forum theme was "On Being Different."

Caitlin P. Godwin, Nicole Antonio, and Casey Fern took first, second, and third place, respectively, for their outstanding essays. Each responded to the prompt: "VALUES FOR LIFE are those principles and ideals that help guide one to do the right things. Interaction with people who are different, or who we feel are different, from ourselves—because of appearance, gender, ethnicity, background, sexual orientation, status, point of view, or behavior—may produce challenges, including the questioning of our values. Write about such an interaction and its positive or negative effects upon living in accordance with values important in a democratic society."

Godwin, from ʻIolani School, discussed the importance of accepting all sexual orientations with her essay "Awakening with a Passion for Gay Civil Rights." Antonio, also from ʻIolani, shared her opinions of our tendencies to discriminate with her essay "Self-Segregation." Fern, from Ho‘ala School, described how it makes for a better society to embrace all people for their differences through his essay "Challenged?"

In keeping with the spirit of the contest, the forum series made a donation to a charitable organization of the student‘s choice in the student‘s name. The forum donated $250 to Ho‘ala School in Fern‘s name, $500 to the VH1 Save the Music Foundation in Antonio‘s name, and $1000 to the Susannah Wesley Community Center in Godwin‘s name. An unexpected monetary gift was also given to the individual prizewinners in the amount of $125 for third place, $250 for second place, and $500 for first place, among other prizes. Hawaiʻi State Governor Linda Lingle provided a certificate of commendation to each prizewinner. All public and private high school winners were recognized with a certificate of merit.

This free public event also promoted reflection on issues of religion, culture, and current events affecting the world today through the thoughts of featured guest speaker, Dr. Saleem Ahmed, PhD, a former Fulbright fellow and author of several books on the subject. His presentation, "Celebrating Diversity in Unity," focused on acceptance of religious pluralism through reflections on Islamic teachings and Muslim practices as compared to spiritual principles of other religions.

Universal Values for a Democratic Society—Nisei Veterans Endowed Forum Series was established by the Colleges of Arts and Sciences at UH Mānoa to foster thoughtful discussions on values and their role in enhancing a democratic society by examining those values from all perspectives and from people of all walks of life. The monetary prizes of the essay contest were made possible by the Kosasa Family Fund of the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation.