Two Jamaican students, now residing in Florida, were named this year’s winners of the annual Jamaica Independence Essay Competition in Florida. They are 18-year-old Salome Messam of Orlando, and 12-year-old Briana M. Wright of Miramar.
Both winners were selected from entries received in the age categories 13 through 18, and nine through 12 respectively.
The two students chose their winning entry from a selection of six topics relating to the history and culture of Jamaica. Salome gave her impression of how Jamaicans in the Diaspora have contributed to the nation achieving global status. Briana, on the other hand, wrote of outstanding contributions of charitable associations in the community.
The essay topics while relating to the nation’s heritage also challenged the students to address issues affecting the Jamaican overseas communities, like both winners did. Some of these included community leadership, public service, entertainment, education, history and culture, geography and national development.
Briana, a second generation Jamaican, is interested in knowing of her roots as her father is a Jamaican immigrant. She was encouraged to enter the competition after being informed by her older sister.
Also being crowned a runner-up in the recent Miss Jamaica Florida Ambassadors 2007, Briana described her reign so far, as positive, having gained a tremendous amount of experience in preparation for the coronation in June, earlier this year.
Briana is a sixth grader at St. Francis Xavier School and attends the Antioch Baptist Church. Through her activities at both institutions, she has expressed a desire to be more involved in her community.
She has visited Jamaica on several occasions to visit her extended family.
A graduate of Papine High School in St. Andrew, 18-year-old Salome Messam recently migrated to the Orlando area. This fall semester, she enrolled as a freshman at Valencia Community College in Central Florida where she will pursue studies as a computer analyst.
She found out about the competition while browsing the web, one of her pastimes.
Salome intends to maintain contact with her Jamaican heritage and used the Independence Essay competition to pursue interests in the community where she now resides.
With a talent for writing, she also does poetry writing.
The winners will be presented with congratulatory plaques from Jamaica’s Consul General, Mr. Ricardo Allicock.
The competition now in its seventh year, is organized by the Miami office of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) and is open to first and second generation Jamaican children residing in Florida State.
The competition forms part of the activities to mark the annual Independence celebrations in Florida and is intended to advance community awareness while exposing the young Jamaicans to their roots.