Awards Announced in Union’s Writing Contest

Hotel Voice — September 03, 2015

The Union’s 2015 writing contest drew a strong response from high school students who were in grades ten through 12 at the time of entering, and the winners were recently announced at an awards ceremony.

The annual competition has grown greatly in popularity since it was initiated in 2002. In the 14 years that have followed, the contest has presented strong proof that our Union’s family has many bright, talented and creative children.
As in past competitions the essays that were submitted this year showed an encouraging grasp of current events, while the narratives and poems displayed much ability and imagination. Almost all the entries showed strong social awareness, too, fulfilling one of the major goals of the contest’s sponsors.

The fact that this has been a political year seemed to influence many of the students. The most popular essay subjects concerned the students’ views on climate change and the Second Amendment. Another essay topic was “My Choice for U.S. President in 2016.” We can tell you that the seven students that chose this topic were unanimous in selecting Hillary Clinton.

Immigration was another common essay topic, with more than a few students choosing the narrative category to write about their own personal experiences coming to the U.S. These accounts made for compelling reading.

Sponsored by the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, the writing competition has captured the collective imagination of many of our members’ children. The Foundation has a history of supporting efforts to make society more responsive to progressive ideas and more supportive of grass roots organizations including unions. In establishing the contest, the Foundation’s aim was to promote creativity among the children of members of our union and to empower individuals to develop their full potential. Although the Foundation provides the prize money, it has no say in the determination of the winners, and neither does the Union. An impartial committee of judges chooses the prize winners. The contest is open to high school students in grades 10, 11 and 12.

The high quality of the submissions to the writing contest makes it a challenging task to choose the winners. But every entry was considered, and in all cases read by a number of people.

“We once again express our appreciation to Donald Rubin and the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation for giving our members’ children this extraordinary opportunity to express their opinions and show their artistic skills,” Hotel Trades Council President Peter Ward said. “The entries in the 2015 competition were quite impressive once again. It is obvious that the students put a lot of time and thought into their writing”

Of course, the prize money offered by the contest is also a strong incentive for students to participate. First place winners in the three categories won $2,000 each, second place winners received $1,000 and third place winners received $300 each. There were also a number of honorable mention awards of $250 each. There was one other prize: Best Overall Entry. This $3,000 award is bestowed annually on the entry that is considered the best among all poems, essays or narratives that are submitted. In an historic first for the writing competition, the 2015 Best Overall Entry was won by a 10th grader, Iffat Astha, who told us about immigrating to New York from Bangladesh with her family seven years ago. There was another first in this year’s competition. A pair of brothers, Phillip and Massimo Vendola, won prizes in the same year, writing two completely different essays on climate change. The list of all 2015 writing contest prize winners is published below.

The prizes were awarded by Donald Rubin, whose foundation sponsors the contest and whose father, Jay Rubin, was the first president of the Hotel Trades Council. Also present for the awards were Alexander Gardner, who is the Executive Director of the Shelly and Donald Rubin Foundation, Evelyn Jones Rich, the Foundation’s former Executive Director, and Mr. Rubin’s daughter, Laurel.

Proud parents and family members also attended the awards ceremony. We are happy to add that Mr. Rubin announced at the event that the contest will continue in 2016. Members can look for information on the 2016 competition in January, 2016 at this website and in the winter edition of the Hotel Voice magazine.

2015 Writing Contest Winners

POETRY: Third place: Tenzin Wangyal, Second Place: Jerry Lau, First Place: Murshea Tuor.

NARRATIVE: Honorable Mention: Edwin Rojas, Jr., Third Place: Tabassum Alam, Second Place: Jason Galitsis, First Place: Tseten Lhamo

ESSAY: Honorable Mention: Phillip Vendola, Massimo Vendola and Joshua Araya, Third Place: Legend Dominguez, Second Place, Jeffrey He, First Place: Iffat Ashta.


The 2015 writing competition winners.