Four MWCC students have been honored in the fifth annual President’s Commitment to Diversity Scholastic Competition that sought out poems, essays and artwork highlighting the value diversity brings to learning and working.
This year’s winners are Rachel Adams of Fitchburg, Kennedy Owino of Fitchburg, Rebecca Schlier of Westminster, and Gemini Walter of Leominster. Each will receive a free, three-credit academic course for use during the spring or summer semesters.
The competition was developed by MWCC’s Diversity Committee to highlight the value of diversity to work and educational environments. Students are encouraged to submit papers, posters, essays, research work, art work or other original, creative work related to issues of diversity or identity, such as those involving disability, race, socio-economic status, veteran status, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and national origin.
Adams, a business administration student, wrote an essay entitled “I am invisible” with the goal of showing what it is like to be someone with an invisible disease. Not every struggle is seen and it is important to celebrate even the smallest victories, she said of her piece.
“Some people have a ball and chain around their ankle and it’s called an invisible illness,” Adams wrote in her essay. “It’s time to look at someone and really look at them. It’s time to celebrate small achievements of the day and be proud.”
Owino, a pre-engineering student, was honored for an essay entitled ‘When will it happen’ that explores the difficulty of making choices and being brave in an uncertain world.
“I champion that diversity should bring us together, not tear us apart,” he wrote. “Diversity is appreciating others for who they are.”
Schlier, a Gateways to College student, created a painting called “Mask” that depicts a multi-colored figure removing a theater-style mask. The piece embodies the experience that Schlier has undergone at Mount Wachusett Community College, where she has been able to remove her own mask.
“The mask represents how I had to be at my old school; I had to bottle up stress and sadness in order to fit in,” she wrote in her explanation of the piece.
Walter, a Human Services major, is the competition’s first three-time honoree, following up on his winning essay on what it means to embrace diversity with a free form literary piece designed to get people thinking about the impact of their words.
“When you last said goodbye to a child,” he writes, “did you let them know they are part of the chain of humanity, that they make a difference in this world?”
Walter’s piece asks the reader what message they are giving to children; encouraging the reader to empower children to accept diversity in all its forms and create a more accepting society as a result.
In addition to the awards and free academic course, the students’ work was displayed on MWCC’s campus.