Sun City Hilton Head's writing club decided last year it wanted to get more seniors involved in writing. But not the community's typical seniors -- they were looking for teenagers heading to college.
Members of the Sunscribers club sponsored a "Seniors to Seniors" essay contest with prize money as incentive for the winners. The club invited seniors from all Beaufort County public high schools to submit essays between 350 and 500 words on the topic, "What I Want to Do with My Life and how I Expect to Prepare Myself."
"We wanted to get kids involved in writing because we like it, and we think it's very important," member Frank Cinami said. "I came from a different background ... but even when I was working as an engineer and an engineering manager, I saw that it was so important for people -- when they write reports, when they write letters -- to be able to get their points across succinctly and in a way that people could understand."
A panel of Sunscribers members judged the essays and chose first- and second-place winners. First place went to Sheree Antoinette Williams of Bluffton High School. She wrote about an experience at College of Charleston that helped her realize she wants to be an athletic trainer. Sheree received $200 for her essay.
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Second place and $100 went to Allyson Morgan of Battery Creek High School, who wrote about her dream of being a mother. Before starting a family, Allyson plans to study accounting at Brigham Young University.
"It was awesome," Allyson said about winning second place. "When they sent me the letter saying they picked mine, it was a great feeling."
Here are Sheree and Allyson's essays:
'My Destined Future'
Sheree Antoinette Williams
Bluffton High School
Last summer, I had the opportunity to visit the College of Charleston. While touring the gym area, I observed an athletic trainer working with the girls' basketball team. As he taped the ankle of one girl who had incurred an injury, he told her, "You'll be fine -- I'll get you back to where you need to be."
She smiled, and at that moment I knew that his words meant more to her than anything else.
I realized that while he was doing his job, the athletic trainer was also feeling the satisfaction of knowing he had helped someone. The relationship he had with his players was more intrinsically valuable than any paychecks he would receive. He had given this player renewed confidence in her ability to succeed, something that cannot be measured quantitatively, as in dollars and cents. I've always been told that helping others is its own reward, but I had never actually believed it until I witnessed this scene. It was a true epiphany for me.
Inspired by that moment, I knew right then and there I wanted to be an athletic trainer. I have always been active in sports and have personally benefited from the attention of athletic trainers; even though I've always been on the receiving end of such care, I know the basics of what is involved. To further my skill level and knowledge of the profession, I enrolled in the sports medicine course at my high school as soon as I could. I feel that this class has given me a good academic foundation. Now, the next step is to continue on to college to gain the post secondary education needed to succeed in this job. I plan on doing course work in anatomy, physiology and biomechanics. To prepare me in a concrete sense, I hope to gain hands-on experience by interning with an athletic trainer and shadowing the best of the best. At the end of four years, I want to have achieved my bachelor of science degree in sports medicine. Then, I'd like to continue by earning my doctorate in sports medicine at a school such as the University of Michigan at Ann arbor. As of 2010, Michigan is considered to offer one of the top athletic training programs in the nation.
Such an ambition might be lofty, but I believe that through my desire to succeed and my strong work ethic, this goal is attainable. I am willing to make sacrifices and work long, hard hours to become the type of sports medicine professional I saw on that basketball court at the College of Charleston. To accomplish this, I will need some additional help, though, because the cost of college attendance and related expenses is too great a burden for my family and me to bear. Financial aid will help me reach my goal. I feel that it is my destiny to become an athletic trainer, and I am anxious to make this dream come true!
'What I Want to Do with My Life and how I Expect to Prepare Myself'
By Allyson Morgan, Battery Creek High School
I want to be a mother; a loving, well-educated and prepared mother and wife. I want to share what I have learned in all my schooling with my children. I want to encourage my own children to learn and obtain knowledge, just as my parents did for me. Obtaining knowledge is essential to keeping and assuring a bright future.
I am the oldest of eight children. I have learned many things from my own mom that I will use to raise my own children. I have many responsibilities that have prepare me for my future. I have learned through service to my family that when we are helping we are the happiest. The experience of growing up in a large family has also shown me how to have patience with people I come in contact with.
I have learned many things in my education so far. I enjoy learning. I like being "graded." I am currently the No. 1 student academically in my graduating class. I have taken a variety of classes that have helped pinpoint he direction of my future. After taking a lot of different business classes, I have found that I enjoy and do well in accounting. I like accounting because everything balances in the end!
I want to attend college to further my education. I am doing my best to keep my spot as valedictorian of my class so I have a better chance of being accepted into a university so I can further my education. I know that by having a degree I will be able to prove I am competent in the area of focus I choose. I choose to earn a degree in accounting. By having a degree in accounting, I know I will be able to help provide for my family. I will also use my knowledge from my accounting degree to run and efficient household, making sure we do not get into any unnecessary debt and planning and saving for our future.
Growing up is an essential part of life, and I am hoping to go into the "real world" in the most prepared way possible. If I continue to prepare myself by working hard in school and at home, I believe that I will be able to do what I want to in my life, achieving my goals one at a time.