Ava Kaufman Wins Big in Essay Contest

The High School Heroes Essay Contest was one of the fiercest competitions held this year, with hundreds of students vying for a spot of recognition. Ava Kaufman ’17 came out triumphantly in third place. Upon writing about her experience teaching the first-graders from Ryner Avenue Elementary School, Kaufman look backed to the memory fondly, stating, “All I wanted was to have a positive impact upon the kids whom I taught, no matter how short-lived it was. I think I did!”

Writing comes naturally to Kaufman, who has been writing for as long as she can remember, letting her experiences flow onto the paper. She also enjoys activities, such as debating and reading, that allow her to explore human emotions and experiences; according to her, some of her favorite books include Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 and Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides.

Instinctively, when the High School Heroes program and the following essay competition was introduced to Kaufman through the courtesy of Ms. Steiker, she immediately jumped in, hoping that “getting back to my elementary school roots would be a cathartic experience.” Of course, she had her fears. Kaufman stated that the volunteer opportunity was a mixed blessing, as she both relished and feared the “responsibility of teaching such young kids for a whole day.”

In the High School Heroes program, students were required to commit a day or two to teaching the community’s younger students, allowing for a time of pensive reflection upon what it means to foster others. Then the students had the option to challenge each other in the prestigious essay competition.

Kaufman’s long road to victory was not yet over. Immediately following the volunteer experience, she, along with hundreds of other students, faced the writing desk to whip up an essay that would impress the judges. However, her long history with writing came to her aid; it didn’t take relatively long for her to conjure up an essay about her volunteering experience. Inspired by these events,

Kaufman wrote an essay on the passions of the first graders and how it rekindled her genuine excitement for learning. She eagerly and anxiously submitted her essay to the organization.
Though she may have been anxious, her hardship was rewarded bountifully – the third place of the prestigious High School Heroes Essay Contest and a scholarship. She recalls the memory. “I was surprised, but very flattered! I didn’t think what I had to say would be that unique, because I felt like the excitement and passion of these kids was so tangible that it would strike everyone else who taught them, as well.” Certainly, her passions did indeed strike a chord with the judges.

Using this success with essay writing as a stepping stone, Kaufman hopes to pursue a path in college that will allow her to combine several of her interests, such as literature, writing, gender studies, and psychology.