Sophomores Win First Amendment Essay Contest

By Wed Jassar

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Sophomores Amina Dzananovic  and Negin MotlaghArani have won a first amendment essay contest sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League.

Both students and their English teacher, Sally Graham, will attend a Freedom Award Dinner Wednesday, Dec. 4 at Hilton Chicago to celebrate this honor. Dzananoic, who won first place, will receive $1000; MotlaghArani will received $250 for her second-place award.

First-place winner Dzananovic  gave a brief summary on her winning essay and what motivated her to write it.

“I wrote this mostly thinking about my parents, because it was them who raised me with the mindset shown through my essay. And on an even more personal level, I really wanted to show myself that writing was something I could achieve in and that it wasn’t just another thing I was “okay” at. My essay is about how Freedom of Religion effects my life personally, especially since I moved here from Bosnia during the war. Many, many people have been killed in Bosnia during that war, and one of the motives was religion. I also wrote about my hijab (scarf), and the way the freedom of religion effects my daily life and will effect it to the future as well, ” Dzananovic said.

Second-place winner MotlaghArani  also gave a summary on her winning essay that she is going to read a part of in the dinner.

“My essay was about how the teachers in Iran treated me because of my religion and how the teachers also influenced students so that they treat me with cruelty because of my own beliefs. The essay also shows a contrast of how life in America is so different than Iran. It shows how in this country there is an unlimited amount of freedom and there is no judgement made by people because of who you are and what you believe in,”  MotlaghArani said.

Graham said the students deserve their recognition.

“Amina and Negin are two admirable young women who work hard to achieve their dreams.  They have both overcome difficulty and deeply appreciate the freedoms in the First Amendment.  They won this contest because they are able to articulate, with imagery and insight, their own experiences,” she said.

Dzananovic believes that her teachers have a big role in her success.

“My teachers played a big part in my success so i’m hoping that the teachers will get a special place in the dinner and be acknowledged as they should,”  Dzananovic said.

 MotlaghArani  also agrees that Graham, her teacher, played a big part in her win.

“I think that my teacher, Mrs. Graham and my parents are were my inspiration for the writing. Mrs. Graham helped me a lot because she helped me brain storm my ideas and got me started on how to start the essay. She also helped me to put my ideas in well organized essay. On the other hand, my parents helped me get through the problems that I faced and were always there for me and supported me through whatever. They also decided to come to the U.S.A which helped me in becoming successful and I was able to get a better education than I was in my country,” MotlaghArani said.