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Champions of Courage 2014 Essay Finalists

The “Champions of Courage” Black History Month Essay Competition challenged students grades 6 through 12 to write a brief essay saluting their personal hero who has shared with them The Dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. More than 4000 students representing 80 area schools entered the competition.

Congratulations to the following 20 finalists and their Champions of Courage!

Champions of Courage is presented by:

Name: Brandon T.
School: John Paul Regional Catholic School
My Champion of Courage is Jackie Robinson because he broke the color barrier as the first African American to play Major League baseball. Many fans told him that he didn’t belong because he was black, but he kept on playing. One of his most popular quotes was, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” He inspires me to overcome any obstacles that I may encounter in my life as a young African American boy.

Name: Breann F.
School: Milford Mill Academy
I could remember when I was young. I watched her feed the homeless people on the street even though she didn’t have much to give. She gave with compassion and offered a word of hope to anyone that came along. She touched the lives of many with her generosity and encouraging words. She embraced Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s teaching of unity by striving to build togetherness in the community; she instilled humanitarianism in me and assured me to have faith. My grandmother Rhada Campbell is my Champion of Courage.

Name: Brianna B.
School: Lansdowne Middle School
When I heard the word war I thought of violence, bloodshed, and chaos; but when I heard the term peace, I always thought Gandhi. Gandhi made a covenant to his people that you don’t have to use physical force to make it known what you’re fighting for. Gandhi never made a drop of blood spill, yet he continued to achieve victory on the battlefield. Using integrity and determination, Gandhi changed the meaning of war. Gandhi is the true Champion of Courage.

Name: Cristol W.
School: Patterson Mill High School
Nelson Mandela’s name calls to mind many words, but the one that says it all is revolutionary. Mandela carried out Martin Luther King Jr.’s prophecy in heart, mind and body. In both men’s attempts to create a copacetic world, they gave their entire lives by pushing all their passion towards one goal: equality. I hope to find something in life that I have enough passion to put everything into. Mandela said “Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people,” which explains his passion in the simplest terms.

Name: Divya K.
School: Western School of Technology & Environmental Science
A Champion of Courage fights adversity without losing hope and has no shame in falling. Malala Yousafzai is my Champion of Courage for doing all of this and more. By standing up for her education when confronted by fearsome terrorists, she has created a chain reaction around the world, bringing change and hope to girls across all continents. Malala’s fight for reform has taught me to take my education seriously and equip myself with the tools I need to help others. I salute Malala for being a real hero who raised a thousand voices for her cause when a bullet tried to silence hers.

Name: Duncan R.
School: Oakland Mills High School
He coaches the soccer team at the most racially diverse and least prosperous school in Howard County. Though his players come from twenty different countries and speak a dozen different languages, he teaches us to look past skin color and embrace each other. Under his guidance, we stand together to achieve a higher goal- representing our school through athletics. Every year at Thanksgiving, thousands of cans of food are collected by his sociology class and soccer players, and piled in his room for those who could not celebrate otherwise. Don Shea, my coach, teacher, and role model embraces all people to do something greater- better society.

Name: Emma W.
School: Our Lady of Hope/Saint Luke School
My father has taught me the value of standing strong for change, leading by example and standing behind my beliefs in what is right and wrong. My dad has shared the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. with me. He has shared stories of a strong willed and focused man who was resolute in what he believed to be just and right. My dad shares the words of Dr. King to provide the foundation to make my own decisions on what is just. For this reason, my father continues to be my Champion of Courage.

Name: Eunji P.
School: Loch Raven High School
Just as Dr. Martin Luther King looked onto the world with eyes of hope and determination, my youth pastor, Tae Jin Lee, has done the same by instilling the perspective of change and betterment into the eyes of our youth group. My youth pastor extends beyond his sermons as he helps us realize the necessity of looking beyond stereotypes and unifying with those around us as we march through life, break down barriers, and further kindness, fairness, and love.

Name: Haris M.
School: Woodlawn High School
My Champion of Courage is my teacher, Mrs. Dumler. Mrs. Dumler fosters the principles of betterment and equality in my racially diverse school, fostering love and unity. Many look down on my school as a lost cause because of an outdated reputation in the same way the world looked down on African Americans. Mrs. Dumler, like Dr. King, refuses to stand for this, adamantly fighting to make both our community and our school understand our value. For her hard work, dedication, and service I name her my Champion of Courage.

Name: Julie W.
School: Burleigh Manor Middle School
She believes that through our singing, we can surpass our differences to share the love of music. Like Dr. King, she inspires us to overcome challenges, despite setbacks and difficulties. When we sing, we are not individuals, but a group of students whose voices join to be one. She teaches us to depend on each other, creating a beautiful blend of voices, emotions, and thoughts. A true inspiration and helping teacher, Mrs. Doring in my Champion of Courage.

Name: Khalid H.
School: Milford Mill Academy
As a child he taught me the basics of life. My father displays the teachings of Dr. King. As a 15 year old boy, he inspires me to continue illustrating my mural of life. He pushes me to see the colors of the world. Like, Dr. King, he encourages me to paint with diversity and to see the brush strokes of individuality. He keeps me focused and motivated to never settle for less from my grades to my lifestyle. Kevin Hill, my father, is my Champion of Courage.

Name: Marcello R.
School: Easton MS
My Champion of Courage is Master Chief Bernard Quibilan. He inspires cadets in the Navy League Cadet Corps to believe in themselves and to demonstrate honor, courage, and commitment in everything we do. Like, Dr. King, Master Chief Quibilan reminds us that when you do believe in yourself, you make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.

Name: Matthew K.
Scool: Pikesville High School
In Schnenectedy, New York, I sit across the circular kitchen table from Lola, my ninety-two year old Filipino step-Great Grandmom. Having recently immigrated to America to live with her daughter, Lola exemplifies two qualities to which I aspire; gratefulness and the desire to be an integral part of her community. She radiates contentment and appreciation for her new home – a meager four-room country farmhouse that she shares with her daughter, son and his wife. Having already lived a full life and undergoing a tedious immigration process to America, Lola, striving for the spirit of inclusion beloved by Martin Luther King Jr., recently accomplished her American dream; becoming a United Stated citizen.

Name: Michael C.
School: St. Augustine School
Bernie King’s passion to continue in her father’s footsteps inspires me to step into other’s shoes. I can do this by seeing another’s point of view or where they might be coming from. I’m amazed by her ability to overcome her shy, timid personality and encourage others to take on her father’s legacy. One of the things that struck me most was that when she was five, she lost her father’s physical presence, yet his spirit lives on in her.

Name: Nina S.
School: Patterson Mill High School
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. challenged us as individuals to achieve success and emphasized the importance of accepting others. My orchestra teacher, Mr. Jensen, embodies similar courage Dr. King displayed as he unites an orchestra composed of high school students with different talents, abilities, and social standings. As he encourages us to enjoy everything we do, he pushes us to succeed both as individuals and as a cohesive group. Mr. Jensen is my Champion of Courage because he is talented, and caring enough to unite his students in perfect harmony.

Name: Patrick K.
School: Perry Hall Middle School
Coach Terry Bryant is my Champion of Courage. When I first became involved with AAU basketball, it was obvious I would have to prove myself to my new teammates. There I was an apprehensive white kid joining a predominately African American squad. To Coach Terry, however, I was welcomed as a part of the family, it didn’t matter that my skin color was different. Coach Terry took the time to develop my skills and showed me how easy it is to see beyond color.

Name: Raynisha J.
School: Winters Mill High School
Courage does not always roar, sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying “I will try again tomorrow”. My Champion of Courage inspires me to believe in myself and never give up. Like Dr. King he encourages me to be optimistic about the future. Through his words of inspiration and dedication, he continues to motivate not only me but, many who crosses his path. This is why my hero and Champion of Courage is no other than, my very own, honor world history teacher, Elliott Raymond.

Name: Sabrine T.
School: Fallstaff Elementary Middle School
Like a plane, he soars as high as the sky with his dreams and inspires my brothers and I to lift off to success. I look up to my uncle as a father and a leader. My uncle’s passion for learning has ignited my ascent to academic success. He is dedicated, hard-working, and willing to make sacrifices for what he believes in, like my future and my education. When I lose focus, he is the radar that brings me back on course. He gives me that strength and push I need to lift off and take flight toward my goals.

Name: Shara M.
School: Arbutus Middle School
My parents are the strongest people I know. They have taught and instilled in me acceptance and equality. Being gay, they have gone through not being accepted by their peers. Through everything they stuck by their beliefs and stayed strong. They never planned on having kids, but when they saw my brother and I needed help, they did not hesitate. I have taken from this courage and responsibility. Through them I have learned the importance of acceptance. For that they will always be my champions of courage.

Name: Yasmin M.
School: Loch Raven High School
In October 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot in an assassination attempt by the Taliban. At only 15 years old, her voice was so influential, that she was considered threatening. Her strength and passion for exposing the truth about women’s inequality and the importance of education prevailed. She taught me that even at a young age; I have a voice against injustice, and that light prevails if we’re brave enough to rise against the darkness. Malala rose, and so will I.

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