Freeman student wins MCC U.S. peace essay contest

Stefany Cortes Stefany Cortes

Stefany Cortes, a senior at Freeman Academy in South Dakota, won the top prize for her essay on immigration in the annual Mennonite Central Committee U.S. National Peace & Justice Ministries public policy essay contest.

Sam Waegli won honorable mention for his essay on the climate crisis. He attends First Mennonite Church in Lincoln, Neb.

As the top essayist from among six finalists from five high schools across the U.S., Cortes will receive $1,000. Waegli will receive $250 for honorable mention.

The essay contest encourages youth to explore and understand federal government policy issues while reflecting on how their faith engages with advocacy. Topics in this year’s contest included immigration, climate change and mass incarceration.

Cortes drew attention to problems she sees in the immigration system. “It is our duty to look past the stereotypes and look at the facts of what is actually happening in the United States today,” she wrote.

She highlighted an actual story of immigration to the U.S. and related it to stories of immigration in the Bible. The essay articulates the need for reforms to immigration laws that balance compassion with practicality and the importance of addressing migration’s root causes.

Cortes’ full essay is at

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