The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Central States announces the regional winners of the 20th annual Public Policy Essay Contest. The contest is open to Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and other Anabaptist youth of high school age and to all youth who attend Mennonite high schools within the United States and Puerto Rico. Youth were required to write a four to six-page essay on one of three topics – gun violence, immigration or North Korea.
Kaitlyn Epp, a senior at Freeman Academy in Freeman, South Dakota won first place for her essay, “Gun Violence and Mental Health Illness” winning the top prize of $100. Meridith Graber, a senior at Freeman Academy in Freeman received second place for her essay, “Trigger Warning.” Third place was won by Maximillian Birkey a junior at Fort Dodge Senior High School in Iowa. Graber and Birkey received monetary awards of $75 and $50 respectively. All three essays will advance to the national level of the contest.
The judge of the contest was Michelle Armster, Executive Director of MCC Central States in North Newton, Kansas. When asked about the experience of judging the essays she said, "I was honored to read the essays. They challenged my thinking about gun violence as well as the relationship between the U.S. and North Korea. I realized that young people are struggling, with the prevalence of gun violence and the challenge of finding solutions. Ultimately, the young people give me hope. I saw the evidence of deep thinkers, compassionate human beings and faithful followers of Jesus.”
The three winning essays have been submitted for competition in the national essay contest. The MCC Washington Office will announce winners soon. Through this contest MCC encourages youth to explore the relationship of faith and public policy as well as increase awareness for the advocacy work of MCC’s Washington office. To learn more about the work of MCC’s Washington Office, see mcc.org/washington.