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USIP Names National Winners of Peace Essay Contest
High school students from the District of Columbia, Minnesota, and Arizona took top honors in the 25th annual National Peace Essay Contest, sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). The winners were announced during a ceremony Thursday night at USIP.
Emily Fox-Penner of the Maret School in Washington, D.C. was named the national first place winner. Her essay, “Awakening Witness and Empowering Engagement: Leveraging New Media for Human Connections,” addressed the essay topic of new media and peacebuilding by examining its role in Egypt in 2011 and Kenya in 2007. As the national winner, Emily will receive a $10,000 academic scholarship.
Minnesota student Renee Holzknecht of Elk River High School was recognized as the second place winner and recipient of a $5,000 scholarship. Renee’s essay is titled “Egypt, Iran, and Beyond: How New Media Is Their Voice and How Their Voice Can Be Protected.”
Third place winner Gabe Salmon of Arizona looked at Tunisia and Syria in his essay “Social Media for Unification and Accountability.” Gabe will receive a $2,500 scholarship for his achievement.
The national winners were announced by Dr. Richard Solomon, president of USIP, at the conclusion of a week-long program for the individual state winners in Washington, DC. During the week, the students met with foreign policy professionals, visited their elected officials, and through a computer-based simulation exercise further explored the role that new media can play in peacebuilding.
Kate Massinger, Oregon's winner, was elected by the students to speak at the ceremony. “Peace is not an end point, a state we must achieve by a set date in the near future,” she said in her remarks. “Rather, it is a way of life that involves communication, discipline, and a heavy dose of selflessness.”
For 25 years the NPEC has challenged students to evaluate critically the international issues related to the work of the Institute. The 2012 topic drew upon the work of USIP's Science, Technology, and Peacebuilding Center of Innovation which identifies promising new practices, conducts research and develops innovative strategies for applying science and technology to the challenge of peacebuilding in fragile states, active conflict and post-conflict societies.
Next year, students will be asked to explore the intersection of gender, war, and peacebuilding. USIP’s Center for Gender and Peacebuilding collaborates with national and international organizations, governments, military, and civil society to enhance the role of women in peacebuilding and develop a better understanding about the impact of gender on conflict management.
More information about the contest is available online at: www.usip.org/npec.
This story originally appeared on USIP.org on June 22, 2012.