Glenmuir High School student, Yashae Mitchell, is the 2013 winner of the Access to Information (ATI) National High School Essay Competition.
The very articulate and confident, 18-year-old copped the top prize, after beating out some 21 rivals, during an awards ceremony held at the Medallion Hall hotel in Kingston on March 26.
Yashae received high praises from the judges for her exceptional essay, which even got a score of 100 per cent from one judge.
“This essay was a clear, clear winner in a very close competition,” said Public Education Manager, Access Information Unit, Tricia Cameron-Anglin.
For her winning essay on the topic: ‘The Access to Information Act (2002) encourages and facilitates an informed public and public participation in Governmental affairs. Discuss’, Yashae received a cash prize of $30,000 and the ATI Unit trophy.
Speaking with JIS News, the Upper Six student said she was overjoyed to be recognised for her hard work.
“I feel elated, because I worked really hard. My teachers were really busy, so I had to do it all on my own. So, it feels good to know that you put your effort into something and it turned out really good,” she said.
Yashae, who is known among her peers as the “dictionary head”, said she is interested in pursuing a career in law, specialising in international business.
Munro College’s Kerron White and Andwayne Davis from St. Mary High School received the awards for second and third place, respectively.
The second place finisher was presented with a cash prize of $20,000 and the ATI Advisory Stakeholders Committee trophy, while third place received $15,000, along with the ATI Association of Administrators trophy.
Nineteen-year-old Kerron said he was “emotionally moved” at placing second in the essay competition.
“It was a tough competition and the marks were very close, so I am very pleased with my performance,” he said.
The Upper Six student, whose dream is become a criminal lawyer, said he entered the competition because he is interested in “anything dealing with law, government or democracy.”
Kerron also made special mention of his teacher, Janice Williams, who not only encouraged him to enter the competition, but supported and assisted him throughout the process. “Without her none of this would be possible,” he said.
Meanwhile, Andwayne said he was a bit disappointed with his placement, but said he was grateful nonetheless for the opportunity and recognition.
“I actually started my essay and finished it on the very day that it was supposed to be submitted, so I’m feeling satisfied,” he said.
Andwayne, who has not yet decided on his career path, said he will be attending the University of the West Indies, Mona in September, where he will be pursuing studies in International Relations and Marketing.
In the meantime, Principal Director, Information Division, Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Joan Archibald, said the competition embodies the co-operative partnership that the government supports with civil society stakeholders.
“The partnership between the ATI Unit and the ATI Advisory Stakeholder Committee is a good one that seeks to promote transparency, accountability, and greater public participation in national decision-making,” she noted.
The ATI National High School Essay Competition, which is in its fourth year, is open to registered high school students between third and sixth forms.
The contest is sponsored by the ATI Unit and the ATI Advisory Stakeholders Committee and is designed to give Jamaican youth the opportunity to become more aware of the Access to Information Act (2002).
It also aims to: encourage academic excellence among high school students in the area of English Language; get youth interested in governance issues and issues of national importance; get students to appreciate the value of the Access to Information Act (2002) as a research tool; and for students to learn more about and explore the ATI Act (2002) through research.
The ATI Act gives all citizens the legal right to see and get copies of official documents held by Government bodies. Citizens may also ask for personal information to be changed if it is incomplete, misleading, out of date or incorrect.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter