Mackinac Center names essay contest winners

2006 winner claims top prize again

A record number of Michigan high school debate team members participated in the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s 2007 High School Debate Workshop essay contest.

The winning authors were announced in late May, with each one receiving a $1,000 college scholarship. Students who attended one of four workshops in the fall of 2007 were invited to write a commentary on the 2007-2008 national debate topic: "Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its public health assistance to sub-Saharan Africa."

The contest was highlighted by its first ever two-time winner, senior Jessica Wilson from Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central. Wilson, who plans to attend Denison University in Ohio and study medicine, also won as a junior with an essay on the 2006 topic, mandatory public service.

Wilson said she recommends debate for all high school students, regardless of what career path they plan to pursue.

"It teaches you to think things out and organize your thoughts," she said.

Nikhil Chivali, a sophomore at Saginaw Heritage High School, was that school’s second consecutive winner. His post-graduation plans include attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Nathan Kemper, a junior at Lenawee Christian School, wrote that microfinancing would be a more effective way to assist sub-Saharan Africa than federal aid.

All three students focused on the need to increase free trade in order to improve the public health and overall economic well-being of the region.

About 450 students from 30 Michigan high schools attended the 2007 workshops in Livonia, Adrian, Grand Rapids and Traverse City. Some 9,000 high school debaters have honed their skills over the 20 years the Center has been holding workshops.

The Mackinac Center publishes Michigan Education Report.