‘Nikki Haley: Moving Forward’ Essay among top 25 of nearly 2,500 submitted; Only essay chosen from Massachusetts
CHELMSFORD, MA (June 23, 2022) – Akhila Garre, a junior at Chelmsford High School, received Honorable Mention honors – placing among the top 25 out of 2,474 submissions – in the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest, the JFK Library announced recently.
Ms. Garre’s essay, titled ‘Moving Forward: Nikki Haley,’ was the only piece selected from the state of Massachusetts. It tells the story of Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, and her decision to remove the Confederate flag from the S.C. State House grounds.
“I was beyond surprised. This was not expected,” said Ms. Garre. “When I submitted my essay, I was thinking it was good, but I wasn’t expecting that I would win something.”
The JFK Profile in Courage Essay Contest is open to U.S. high school students in grades 9-12 attending public, private, parochial, or home schools; U.S. students under the age of twenty enrolled in a high school correspondence/GED program in any of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, or the U.S. territories; and U.S. citizens attending schools overseas.
This year’s submissions came from Canada, India, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan in addition to the U.S.
The first female governor in South Carolina history, Ms. Haley is the daughter of Indian immigrants. Ms. Garre’s powerful essay opened with the story about a racial profiling incident endured by Ms. Haley’s father, Ajit Singh Randhawa, when she was a child. Her piece segues into the story and factors behind Ms. Haley’s decision to lower the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House.
Ms. Garre was not aware about the Profile in Courage Essay Contest until her English teacher, Mr. Matthew Bartos, had encouraged students to enter it in a class. Her father, Sunil, offered a few ideas, but she had read a news item about Ms. Haley’s story and was captivated.
“I was researching, and I had asked my dad if he knew of anyone who was courageous,” she said. “He gave me a few names, but Nikki Haley wasn’t one of them. He didn’t know her story, and I don’t think it was as well-known as other politicians, which made me want to do it more.”
Ms. Garre’s honor is her family’s second in recent weeks. Her brother, Ibhiram, was among 28 seniors in a class of 332 to receive the PRIDE Award, presented to students who exemplify the tenets of Chelmsford Public Schools: perseverance, respect, integrity, dedication, and empathy.
Entering her senior year, Ms. Garre plans to pursue computer science or pharmaceutical science following high school. She also expects to continue writing creatively.
Ms. Garre is the daughter of Sunil and Renuka Garre.
About Chelmsford Public Schools
The Chelmsford Public School District provides all students with multiple pathways to optimize their own potential for academic excellence, leadership, and social and emotional wellness. The mission of the Chelmsford Public Schools is to educate, engage, prepare, and empower well-rounded and knowledgeable learners to PERSEVERE through challenges, demonstrate RESPECT and INTEGRITY in their words and actions, are DEDICATED to their community, and display EMPATHY as global citizens while discovering and pursuing their full potential. This PRIDE-driven culture enables all members of the school community to support the growth and development of students. For more information, please visit www.chelmsfordschools.org.