Alexander Noel Tokarev of Midland, Abir Bazzi of Dearborn Heights and Lilliana Bernier of Rochester won first, second and third places, respectively, in the 2022 Charles M. Bauervic Foundation High School Essay Competition, presented by the Mackinac Center and Northwood University.
The winners received prizes of $750, $500 and $250 and a commemorative medallion for their winning essays on the topic “Vaccine Mandates and Liberty: Where Do We Draw the Line?”
Tokarev, 16, is a homeschool sophomore who also works as a lifeguard and plays soccer in both Michigan and Bulgaria.
His paper presented arguments for and against three scenarios for vaccine mandates — universal, limited or none — and suggested that private property rights offer a solution.
“The government has no business owning or imposing any restrictions over most places where people congregate,” he wrote. Private property owners, by contrast, should have the right to set rules for their establishments on such things as vaccines and masking. Customers and employees, meanwhile, can choose for themselves whether to engage with that establishment.
Tokarev advises future contest participants to research all sides of an issue when writing a paper. “That will help you make your claim.”
Bazzi, 14, a freshman at Henry Ford Early College, said the Bauervic competition was an opportunity to do something she enjoys — writing. She also enjoys being back in the classroom, after spending seventh and eighth grades in a virtual setting.
Working on the essay contest solidified Bazzi’s opinion that the more vaccines are forced on people, the more people resist.
“Vaccines should not be mandated, nor abolished. They should not be forced, only fostered to those who want to receive one,” she wrote. Her advice for writers is to research thoroughly because “having evidence is very important.”
Bernier, 17, a senior at Rochester Adams High School, had been a competitive dancer for 10 years when COVID-19 forced her program to go virtual. She chose not to continue, but found a silver lining in a new waitressing job that she enjoys.
In researching her essay, Bernier said she was surprised to learn how many small businesses closed permanently due to the pandemic. Government help is not enough when a business loses its entire customer base, she said.
She concluded that vaccine mandates infringe too much on America’s founding principle of liberty.
In the U.S. Constitution, “We were given the right to choose for ourselves how we decide to keep ourselves safe,” she wrote.
Read the winning essays online at:
Bauervic High School Essay Competition
2022 Essay Contest Winners
We are pleased and honored to announce the winners of the 2021 Bauervic Essay Competition. Congratulations to all the recipients!