15th Annual Barbara Jordan Historical Essay Competition Winners Announced

Cameron Smith, a senior at Smith Academy Home School in Fort Worth, has won first place in the 15th annual Barbara Jordan Historical Essay Competition for his essay, "A Woman's Place is in the Dome: The Story of Lorraine Miller."

Smith received a $2,500 scholarship and a gold trophy presented at the closing ceremonies of the 24th annual Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights at The University of Texas at Austin on April 22.

Ashley Nicole Green, a junior at Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, won second place, receiving a $1,500 scholarship and a silver trophy for her essay, "Activist, Educator: The Story of Dr. Christine Benton Cash." James Kim, a junior at the Robert E. Lee High School in Midland, won third place, receiving a scholarship of $1,000 and a bronze trophy for his essay, "The Ballad of Edward Pleasant, Baritone Extraordinaire."

Sponsored by the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin, the Barbara Jordan Historical Essay Competition is open to Texas students in grades 9 through 12. The annual competition encourages students to conduct research and interviews and write essays about African Americans in their local communities, preserving their elders' oral histories and inspiring exchange between the generations. Winning essays are archived in the Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin and are available for scholarly research.

Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement, said, "The essay contest gives high school students throughout the state the opportunity to engage in primary research and connect with their elders. It also encourages students to think critically, engage in historical analysis and write clearly -- all important skills as they prepare for college."

In addition to the top three essayists, 16 students from across the state were selected as regional winners and were honored at the ceremony on April 22. Regional winners received medallions for their essays on the theme "African Americans in Texas: Past and Present."

The competition commemorates the life of the Barbara Jordan, state senator, congresswoman and teacher, and one of Texas' most influential leaders during the second half of the 20th century. Since 1996, more than $75,000 has been awarded to Texas students through the competition. The scholarship awards may be used at any college or university.

Regional winners for the 2010 Barbara Jordan Historical Essay Competition are as follows:

Jasmine Ali
Health Careers High School
San Antonio

Brittany Baggett
Linden-Kildare High School

Paige Buck
New Braunfels High School
New Braunfels

Amber Chambers
Central Medical Magnet High School

Jacob Crawshaw
West High School

Jaci DeLoach
Linden-Kildare High School

Matt Fitzgerald
Midland Freshman High School

Ashley Green
Pittsburg High School

Duncan Hall
Lago Vista High School
Lago Vista

Katelyn Jackson
Lago Vista High School
Lago Vista

James Kim
Robert E. Lee Senior High School

Jessica Ortiz
Dunbar High School
Fort Worth

Alfonso Paredes
United High School

Jasmine Phillips
Neches High School

Haley Rhodes
Lee Freshman High School

Cameron Smith
Smith Academy
Fort Worth

Anthony Thurston
James Madison High School
San Antonio

Chelsea Wisniske
Cypress Falls High School

For information about the scholarship competition, contact Dr. Aileen Bumphus, competition coordinator, abumphus@austin.utexas.edu or 512-232-4660.

Student photographs are available by emailing Jennifer Wang, jenniferwang@austin.utexas.edu.