A Prosser High School junior will once again represent the area in a statewide essay contest.
Joslyn Felicijan, 16, won the Veterans of Foreign Wars District 17’s Voice of Democracy contest for the second consecutive year on Dec. 13.
She is the first person to win back-to-back in the 40-year history of the district, which includes Kennewick, Richland, West Richland, Yakima, Prosser, Grandview, Sunnyside and Mabton, according to a news release.
The theme of this year’s contest is “Why veterans are important to our nation’s history and future.” Joslyn’s essay discussed how veterans formed the United States in the Revolutionary War and saved it in the Civil War.
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“Other times they were not supported, like Vietnam, but they still supported America,” she told the Herald.
Joslyn grew up writing. Her mother, Connie Felicijan, is a teacher at Housel Middle School in Prosser. She also enjoys learning about history, so she started taking part in the VFW essay contest in third grade.
Joslyn admits to being a bit nervous last year, when she represented VFW Post 3207 and Ladies Auxiliary for the first time against 16 other winners from across the state. Last year’s essay, which she read aloud in front of a group of veterans, dealt with how she is optimistic about the nation’s future.
“It’s very fancy, very formal,” she said. “It’s also kind of nerve-wracking. Overall, it’s a very good experience.”
She feels better about her chances when she will compete again Jan. 17 in Vancouver, Wash.
“I’ll definitely be more confident because I know what I’ll be doing,” she said.
Joslyn had to not only submit a written essay to win the district title, she also had to record herself reciting the essay on DVD. Jerry Peltier, the District 17 Voice of Democracy president, said the video presentation counts more to judges than the essay itself.
“We’re looking for students who portray a speech that follows the theme, and she most closely did that,” he said.
Joslyn plans to attend either Gonzaga or Georgetown universities when she graduates. She would like to study history and pre-law.
She appreciates the language arts and history teachers who helped her become the competitor she is.
“I’m very thankful and very blessed to receive this support from the community,” Joslyn said.