Selam Wolday, a senior at Mt. Hebron, recently wrote an essay consisting of only 64 words that ended up winning her a position as a finalist in the 2016 WBFF Fox 45 Martin Luther King, Jr. “Champions of Courage” essay competition. The essay prompt was to write about someone inspirational, but the catch was that writers had to follow in the steps of Dr. King. Wolday chose to write about her younger brother, Hiyab.
Her essay reflected on the fact that our elders have wisdom because of their lengthy life full of experiences; however, she believes Hiyab encompasses pure wisdom. She related the characterization of her younger brother to someone who in the future will be able to bring our divided society together due to his loving and non-judgmental personality.
Her inspiration was clearly seen through the purity and innocence of the younger generation. From what is gathered from the essay, Wolday sees this younger generation as the answer to all of the world’s problems. She believes that their innocent help is the “courage” that will win the world over.
Wolday wrote this article right after the 2016 presidential election due to the fact that the country became separated in their ideologies. The anger in everyone, as well as the separation within the nation, sparked an idea in Wolday. She was looking for someone to write about who embodied undiluted kindness, and the first name who came to her mind was her brother’s. His helpfulness and affection reminded Wolday about the good still evident in the world, and his effort to help out was the exact example of courage that she was looking for.
Wolday’s essay was entered by English teacher Ms. Lisa Vitali. Since Wolday became a finalist in this competition, she is now invited to a luncheon that will be aired on T.V. The date for the Luncheon is January 29, but the date of the airing is yet to be announced. Wolday will be reading her essay on live television.
Ms. Vitali was not the only help that Wolday has had along the way. She would like to give a shout-out to her friend, Arushi, “who helped me with the ending when I was stuck,” she said. “We jokingly made a bet that if I won, I would share the winnings with her, so I owe her $25.”
Sometimes it does not take many words to express true passion. In Wolday’s case, her 64 words led her to be recognized nationally. Through her essay, she was able to share a brief story delivering the message that kindness and helpfulness are the steps that people need to take to close the divide in our society. Help is the primary symbol of courage because people are willing to take on others’ problems before theirs. Wolday teaches us that maybe the real role models are those who are the purest because they encompass the courage that the rest of the world is void of.