NeW is excited to announce the winner of the College Category of the 2020 NeW Essay Contest is Hannah Kim, a student at the University of South Florida and Vice President of her NeW chapter. Congratulations, Hannah!
To read Hannah’s essay that was published by the Washington Examiner, co-sponsor of the 2020 contest, click here.
How did you hear about the 2020 NeW Essay Contest and why did you choose to participate in it?
After joining the NeW National membership, I received an email announcing an upcoming essay contest where we can submit a piece expressing why we believe it is important that women celebrate the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which abolished discrimination on the basis of gender in extending voting rights. I initially did not plan on participating, doubting that I would have any chance of winning, nor feeling very compelled to do so. It was only after attending the NeW Leadership Retreat this summer—where I had the opportunity to meet so many accomplished women who shared their testimonies and words of encouragement—that I was inspired to take on the challenge and try something new. I remember one of the girls telling us, “NeW works for you if you work for NeW; you get out of NeW as much as you put in.” That definitely lingered in my mind as I returned home and sat down to contemplate whether or not I should dedicate the time and effort to write this essay. After much thought, however, I realized that the current mindset of the young women in this country— where they seem so discouraged despite living in the land of opportunity—is a result of the lack of knowledge of the progress made in the past 100 years. This prompted me to begin writing immediately as I came to the conclusion that it was imperative I draw attention to why we must shed more light on the efforts and achievements of women throughout U.S. history. It is an issue we seldom focus on addressing, and as a result, so many people are misinformed of the immense progress that has been made to allow them to prosper today. After being pressured into silence for my unpopular opinions for so long, this essay contest felt like a chance for me to finally speak up and voice my thoughts; and I am so glad I did.
What was your favorite part about writing this essay?
I have a love for American history, and simply reminiscing on the past—playing the black-and-white images of suffragists marching the streets and crowding in front of President Wilson’s lawn—made me feel a sense of pride in, not only our country, but especially the people who made it so great. As I wrote the essay, I took the time to reflect on how far we came in this nation during the past century, which sent chills down my back multiple times. Through the juxtaposition of the despair of victimization with the joy of recognizing liberation, I sought to emphasize the message of hope I wished to deliver to women of all ages (though it also managed to make me feel inspired and hopeful of my future too). I definitely feel as though the writing experience gave me a chance to not only plant a seed of hope in others but rekindle the flame of ambition within myself as well; and that was my favorite part about writing this essay.
Why is it important for women to vote?
We are all unique individuals with the capacity to think for ourselves and make choices accordingly. Though in many other aspects of life, women and men are not completely identical, when we vote, we enter an equal playing field, where our voices are heard impartially. I believe that we should not vote simply because we are women. We vote, as women, because we are equally important members of society who are able to independently compose our thoughts, and are entitled to the same dignified treatment and privileges granted to all others. It is a freedom that was fought for by numerous brave Americans throughout our history and we must not let their sacrifices be in vain by taking for granted the victories they won. Rather, it is important that we take personal responsibility and elect someone who mirrors our values and prospects for our futures because we now have the freedom to do so.
Why is NeW important?
Had it not been for NeW, I would not have had the opportunity to meet so many other like-minded women to inspire and challenge me to strive for what I once deemed unattainable, or even have the chance to express my thoughts in writing and have it published as well. A possibility like this is something I would have only dreamed of just a few months ago, and it was only through NeW that I got to take advantage of the resources and opportunities provided to me and channel it into a stride towards greatness. I am so deeply grateful for NeW for opening doors in, not only my life, but the lives of so many other young women across this country. Creating a community of individuals who support you and wish for nothing but your success is so crucial to the further advancement of women towards their goals, especially conservative and independent-minded women who often feel voiceless. That is why the work NeW does, the values they stand for, and the opportunities they provide are so important to me, and many more ambitious future leaders all over the nation.