Today@Sam Article

Essay Contest Winners Emphasize The Value Of Giving Back

April 28, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd

By Fadia Braktia

This year, the winners of the “Measure of a Life" Essay Contest have shown a deep understanding of the value of service in life. They shared personal experiences that highlight the impact of even small acts of kindness and how a life devoted to helping others can bring satisfaction and meaning.

Jessie Ventimiglia The first-place winner, Jessie Ventimiglia, is a third-year homeland security studies major with a Middle Eastern studies minor, concentrating in Arabic language at Sam Houston State University. She is a Smith-Hutson Scholar, serving as vice-president of the Scholars’ Leadership Council and a former Performance Assessment for Leadership leader. In addition to her studies and leadership roles, Jessie works as a challenge course facilitator Bearkat Camp and a youth soccer coach for Soccer Shots The Woodlands.

Ventimiglia wrote about the importance of giving back to one's community. She was inspired by a fellow student's selfless service and learned that serving others is a tangible way to improve the community and bond with others. Her essay emphasized the importance of measuring our lives by the rubric of love within our service.

Kayci Pharaon The second-place winner, Kayci Pharaon, is a sophomore communication studies major with a technical and professional writing minor. Kayci has logged over 100 volunteer hours and was a co-leader of the 2022 Bearkat Service Break. She is also active in the college ministry and guest experience teams at Zealhouse Church.

In her essay, Pharaon expresses the belief that service can be achieved through small, everyday acts of kindness. She believes collaborating with peers and viewing academia through an outreach lens can foster a sense of belonging and connection on campus. She aspires to identify the needs of others and meet them in a way that fosters community, inspired by the Bearkats who served them in times of need.

Lydia WilliamsThe third-place winner, Lydia Williams, started college at 14 and is on track to receive her bachelor’s degree at 18. She wrote about her belief that a life of service is the measure of one's life. She has always found fulfillment in helping others, from volunteering with Plano Homeschool Volunteers as a child to working at the food pantry on their college campus. She aspires to dedicate her entire life to service, eventually becoming a therapist. She believes that everyone deserves mental healthcare, regardless of their financial situation.

These three winners remind us that service can be a central part of our lives and contribute to building a more compassionate world. We can all take inspiration from their examples and seek ways to assist others, whether through volunteering, work or daily acts of kindness.

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