Cayman student tops thousands in international writing competition

| 26/08/2015
Cayman News Service

Martina Watler

(CNS): Martina Watler, a St Ignatius Catholic School student, has been named the junior runner-up in the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2015, with judges choosing her entry from more than 7,200 submissions.

As the junior runner-up, Martina, 13, will be invited to a special awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace where Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will present the winners with their prizes on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, who is the patron of the competition.

The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS), which runs the competition, said this year’s theme, “A Young Commonwealth”, underlines the fact that young people account for the majority of the Commonwealth’s population, and recognises their capacity, contribution and potential to shape the future.

The RCS described Martina’s entry to the competition as a vulnerable but brave examination of a young girl’s inner world, her anxieties and her dreams.

The following is an excerpt from her essay:

“Mom said, ‘Baby, do you have free time?’

“Yeah, sure, mom. Yes, it’s true, I get a lot of free time; Yes, mom, it’s true, I worry a lot; yes, it’s true, I don’t listen; Yes, mom, it’s true, I cover my face with a lot of makeup; yes, mom, it’s true that you work hard for my education and I should try more. Yes, mom, it’s true! It’s all true!”

In reviewing her entry, the panel of 96 judges said, “Martina writes powerfully from the point of view of an anxious teenager trying to cope with the intersection between her view of herself and her mother’s view of her. Her vocabulary and phrasing successfully reflect the tensions in her world. The essay is poignantly amusing, too.”

According to the RCS, Martina said about the contest, “I entered the Commonwealth Essay Competition because I wanted to inform young people of how amazing they can be and what amazing advantages youth have.”

Her hobbies include drawing, reading, maths and science. She aspires to be either an orthodontist or a forensic pathologist. Martina hopes to be able to make a positive change in the world by inspiring young people.

The competition received 13,101 entries, comprising 7,288 junior-level entries and 5,813 senior-level entries from more than 600 schools in 49 countries and territories across the Commonwealth. The competition, which was created in 1883, is the world’s oldest international schools’ writing contest.

The junior category is open to entrants aged 13 and under, and the senior category is open to ages 14–18.

The four overall winners – Paraschos Cant, 16, of Cyprus (senior winner); Tawanda Mulalu, 18, of Botswana (senior runner-up); Nathan Swain, 11, of Tristan da Cunha (junior winner); and Martina — will be invited to attend a special programme entitled ‘Winners Week’ in London. Held in October, the week will consist of a series of cultural and educational activities, which will culminate in the special awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

RCS director Michael Lake said, “The Royal Commonwealth Society is delighted that in its 132nd year, the essay competition has received a record number of entries and that submissions came through from all across the Commonwealth.

“I am particularly impressed by the way in which those young people are able to articulate thoughts of great maturity and insight that will be important to the world in which they will grow up. Their inspirational pieces of writing testify to their strong desire to make a difference.”


Category: Essay, Youth

Comments (1)

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  1. AGS says:

    Congratulations Martina, I don’t know you but as a Caymanian I am proud of your achievements. You have made us proud. Dream big and follow your dreams.