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MMACHS Seniors Sweep College Writing Competition

By: MMACHS Staff

For the first time ever, Idaho State University selected dual-enrollment high school students as winners of its annual Student Composition Contest. Also for the first time, both winners were from Meridian Medical Arts Charter High School.

MMACHS seniors Bezunesh Mina and Lily Criswell have been recognized for excellence in writing in their first-year writing English classes taught by dual-enrollment instructor Nate Green.

Mina wrote “High Maternal Death Rates in Black Women,” a research proposal for her senior project in which she explores the causes for a high maternal mortality rate among Black women. Drawing on data from the CDC, medical journals, public health articles, and law publications, the proposal lays out several factors, including lack of equitable health care and racial stereotyping, that can lead to increased death rates.

“By combining her strong research plan with her own interests in pursuing a major and career in healthcare, Bezunesh’s proposal demonstrates a combination of strong research, analysis, and relevance for the medical field,” according to Jessica Winston, the chair of English and Philosophy at ISU.

Mina said the essay inspired her to combine her interest in medicine with her personal experiences.

“I understand how it feels to believe that your voice isn't being heard, especially as a black woman in Idaho myself. So, when I first heard about maternal deaths and how alarming of an issue it was for black women, I pondered on why I had never heard about the topic before,” she explained.

After graduation, Mina plans to attend the University of Idaho, majoring in Health Sciences. She has her sights on medical school to become an ER doctor. In the meanwhile, she hopes to continue her writing career.

“I do want to continue writing essays on racial issues because I realize how unaware people are of these problems, and I want to be part of the movement towards making people knowledgeable,” she said.

Criswell wrote the essay “Curtailment.” Throughout this personal essay, she describes the physical struggles of her parents, which resulted from on-the-job injuries while working in law enforcement. She explains how their physical restrictions influenced her to pursue a career in health professions.

“Lily discusses how she accepted uncertainty as a major element in the field of medicine, a recognition that was challenging to accept but that has helped her develop and learn. Lily presents a well-developed essay, combining personal reflection and plans for her future career,” Winston noted.

Criswell said she was able to channel some of her personal frustrations into her essay, while also expressing her interest in finding solutions as she enters the medical field.

“Growing up, I was always kind of mad at doctors because they could never fix everything. I wanted to pursue the medical field to see if I could find answers, or at least help others in some way,” she said.

After graduation, Criswell intends to study biology at Boise State University and eventually become a doctor. She also plans to continue improving her writing skills.

“Writing is a big part of the medical field. Good writing can help you get people’s attention and keep it. To be effective, you need to be able to clearly articulate whatever you are trying to say,” she added.

Mina and Criswell were selected by the Composition Committee from submissions from students at ISU’s Pocatello campus, as well as dual-enrollment classes around the state. They will each receive $250 awards.

This is not the first time that MMACHS seniors have done well in college writing competitions. Last year, Addy Barker, Salgai Zamaraikamal Pori, Jayden Dunn, and Aspen Mann won first and second place in the University of Idaho's Student Research Symposium. Additionally, Karen Dixon was the gold medalist in Extemporaneous Writing at the 2022 HOSA: Future Health Professionals International Leadership Conference.

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