UAA student's award-winning essay on democracy featured in Forbes

by Michelle Saport  |   

Is voting a privilege, a right or a responsibility? That's the question students answered for UAA's inaugural Democracy and Civic Action Week essay contest.

Judges awarded the Civil Liberty Grand Prize to Phillip Granath, undergraduate English major at UAA, for his essay, "Bullets And Ballots: Voting Is Our Responsibility." Granath's essay recounts his experiences in Iraq as the nation prepared to hold its first democratic elections in nearly five decades. As the contest's grand prize winner, Granath received $500 and had his essay published on Forbes' website. Head here to read the essay.

Congratulations also go to UAA student Nicholas Schwantes, winner of the Informed Voter Award, and Chugiak High School student Amber Brady, winner of the Youth Voice Award. Nicholas and Amber each received a $250 prize along with the award, thanks to a sponsorship by the League of Women Voters Alaska.

Judges and winners for UAA's inaugural Democracy and Civic Action Week essay contest

In the back row: George Martinez, special assistant to the mayor of Anchorage, helped judge the inaugural Democracy and Civic Action Week essay contest; Jackie Cason, associate professor of English, organized the contest. In the front row: Eagle River High School student Amber Brady, UAA student Phillip Granath and UAA student Nicholas Schwantes composed the contest's winning essays.

Special thanks go to the community leaders who volunteered their time and expertise to serve as contest judges:

  • Moira Gallagher, director, Live. Work. Play.
  • Lourdes Linato-Crawford, president, Bridge Builders of Anchorage
  • Sarah Lukin, chief operating officer, Pt Capital LLC
  • George Martinez, special assistant to the mayor of Anchorage
  • Jeff Landfield, editor-in-chief, Alaska Landmine
  • Kengo Nagaoka, youth civic engagement coordinator, The Alaska Center
  • Peg Tileston, board of directors, Alaska Common Ground
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