On Thursday, May 14th, Sarah Santiago, a 10th grader at Esperanza Academy, read her essay as the Grand Prize Winner out of 342 submissions in the Student’s Speak city-wide competition announced by Mayor Michael Nutter, joined by Dr. William Hite, Superintendent of the Philadelphia School District, and Jerry Jordan, President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers just last month. Students Speak encouraged Philadelphia public school students to make their voices heard regarding the importance of full and fair school funding through essay and video submissions.
“The individuals most adversely affected by the lack of full and fair education funding are young Philadelphians, but they rarely have the opportunity to be a part of this discussion. ‘Students Speak!’ allows Philadelphia public school students to tell their fellow students, parents, teachers, school staff and concerned adults why they deserve a fully-funded, high-quality learning experience,” said Mayor Nutter about the initiative.
Esperanza is incredibly proud of Sarah and students like her who are able to authentically articulate the triumph of education within the plight of the barrio.
Watch her read her powerful essay at City Hall:
Read her full essay here:
Fully fund my education because it is my right to have one. I have the right to knowledge, and I have the right to learn about the world and what is happening in it. I have the right to know of all the hate and misery that is in our world, but I also have the right to gain the tools that I need to change that.
Fully fund my education because I am a young Latina, and we live in a world where the odds are always against the favor of myself and those just like me.
Fully fund my education because I want to be a leader, and I want to be a leader without having to be looked down upon because I am female and a Latina. I feel and see the problems that are happening in my community firsthand, and I know how to go about fixing them.
Fully fund my education because I deserve to have a voice, especially when young girls like me seldom have one in today’s society. I have bright eyes and a big mind, and my opinions and thoughts do matter.
Fully fund my education because I come from a background of adversity. My father passed away when I was 6 years old, and my single mother has struggled for a long time to support me and my brother. No matter what I went through, my mother always told me that education was the key to success. I make sure to study hard every day, and I make sure that I don’t come home to my hard-working mother with anything other than a great grade.
Fully fund my education because I go to school in a city where violence is on every block. My classmates and I risk our lives every day to come to school on public transportation, but we still get up in the morning because we want an education.
Fully fund my education because I am strong, determined, and persevering. I know what it’s like to be a shy, insecure girl, but when I want something I go and get it.
Fully fund my education because I am a dreamer, and I have only dreamt when I was in class learning. I want to see the world and everything it has to offer, and I can only do that with an education.
Fully fund my education because I am not the only one who deserves it, and because I am not the only one who knows that.
Fully fund my education because students, especially those who are dedicated and intelligent but come from underprivileged backgrounds deserve an education.
Fully fund my education because having an education means having a voice, and when we have the money to get an education so that we can become lawyers, doctors, journalists, and teachers, we will look back to those who gave us that education and we will forever be grateful to those who gave us a voice.