Liliana Lulgjuraj (right) of Rochester, Michigan, won first place in the 2021 edition of the Bauervic Foundation High School Essay Competition, a new contest presented jointly by the Mackinac Center and Northwood University and sponsored by the Charles M. Bauervic Foundation.
Isaac Yokom-Mcdonald of Cheboygan took second place in the inaugural event, while Alexandria “Lexie” Gibson (below) of Freeland won third place honors. The winners received cash prizes of $500, $200 and $100, respectively, as well as a commemorative medallion and certificate. All three also will receive a scholarship to the summer LAB (Learning About Business) camp at Northwood.
The Bauervic Foundation is a longtime supporter of the Mackinac Center and Northwood, focusing its contributions on educational programs for youth and emphasizing entrepreneurism and the free enterprise system. For more than 10 years, the foundation has supported an essay competition for college students at Northwood University and in 2020-2021 made a generous grant to the Mackinac Center to support a competition for high school students.
This year’s essay contest topic was: “During the COVID-19 pandemic the Michigan Governor made a number of emergency declarations. What were the impacts of the actions taken by the Governor on the Michigan economy?”
To help students tackle this subject, the Mackinac Center and Northwood hosted two virtual events featuring guest speakers on the state economy, the lockdown and best practices in economic research.
Lulgjuraj, a senior at Rochester High School, won first place with her essay describing the impact of the emergency declarations on small business.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the country, but they have not been treated as such during the pandemic. The cure became worse than the disease,” she wrote. Lulgjuraj saw this firsthand as her father worked to keep his restaurant open during the pandemic. He was able to do so, she said, but it has been difficult to find workers.
Yokom-Mcdonald also has felt the impact of COVID-19 in his personal life and community. A junior at Cheboygan Area High School, he lost his part-time job when the local youth center he worked at closed its doors due to the pandemic. In his essay, Yokom-Mcdonald analyzed unemployment, inflation and gross domestic product to determine if Michigan’s lockdown orders were excessive.
“I believe that in the event of another statewide emergency, pandemic or another catastrophe, it should be more up to local government to be involved in having a voice in state orders and executive actions,” he wrote.
Like her fellow winners, Gibson said that researching the economic impact of the emergency declarations was enlightening. A junior in the Seton Home Study program, Gibson said, “I always knew closing down businesses was not the right way to go about it; I didn’t know how badly it was affecting Michigan.”
Gibson wrote, “The big red letters spelling the word ‘closed’ are far too common on the doors of businesses throughout Michigan, as this state faces an outrageous amount of businesses closing.”
The Mackinac Center congratulates these winners and all of the participants in the competition.
“The winning essays embody the careful thought and rigorous research that is essential to advancing sound public policy and making life better for the people of Michigan,” said Michael J. Reitz, executive vice president of the Mackinac Center. “We are grateful to the Bauervic Foundation for making this event possible.”