Institute of Public Service Announces Inaugural Essay Competition Winners

“Know Your Power,” Delgado Tells Essay Contest Winners

Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado was proud of the students who submitted their essays to the Hartwick Institute of Public Service’s inaugural essay competition.

“You know your power, and it’s important to tap into that power for the benefit of your community,” he said via Zoom. “That power cannot be quashed.”

Seven students from across the HartLand Promise communities created videos and wrote essays detailing ways to get young people more involved in the democratic process.

Zachary McKenney, Hartwick College

“One of the goals is to inspire the next generation of public servants. The entries in this contest were a clear indication of how young people in the area are working towards engaging in democracy.”

Zachary McKenney

Assistant Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Institute of Public Service

Their ideas? Voter registrations and polling places in schools, a federal holiday for voting, increasing social media outreach and using cartoon characters, such as Spongebob Squarepants, to make voting seem more fun.

Grace Shultz, daughter of Kevin Schultz, associate professor and chair of the Physics Department, and Victoria Heilveil, daughter of Amy Hornberg Hielveil, administrative assistant for academic affairs, tied for fourth place. Hartwick students Shanel Dixon ’24, Bryn Illies ’25 and Amelia Williams ’26 also weighed in as part of the student panel.

“A lot of schools have student governments, and we need to get students more engaged in that process. And we need to make sure we know who we’re voting for so you can advocate. Know their policies.”

Shanel Dixon '24

The winners were:

5th place: Elias House, Oneonta High School
4th place (tie): Grace Schultz and Bastian Dudley (joint submission) Oneonta High School, Victoria Heilveil, Oneonta High School
3rd place: Martha Dolan, Unatego High School
2nd place: Chase Birdsall, Unatego High School
1st place: Cooper Cohen, Delaware Academy

Each student received a cash prize, funded in partnership with the Community Foundation of Otsego County, and the opportunity to sit in on a talk from Delgado.

The Hartwick Institute of Public Service High School Essay & Video Competition Award recipients with Institute co-directors Laurel Elder and Zachary McKenney
Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado makes closing remarks at the The Hartwick Institute of Public Service High School Essay & Video Competition Awards Ceremony & Panel Discussion at Hartwick College
The Hartwick Institute of Public Service High School Essay & Video Competition panel discussion lead by Institute co-director Zachary McKenney
The Hartwick Institute of Public Service High School Essay & Video Competition panel discussion with area high school students and Hartwick students
The Hartwick Institute of Public Service High School Essay & Video Competition panel discussion with area high school students and Hartwick students
The Hartwick Institute of Public Service High School Essay & Video Competition panel discussion lead by Institute co-director Zachary McKenney

“You’re here because you care. You want to make a difference. I want you to know that I will do everything I can to support you, and that you have partners in government who want to help you make that difference.”

Antonio Delgado

Lieutenant Governor

January 22, 2024
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