Alyssa Gomez, while a student at Joliet Catholic Academy, won the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) Good Citizen essay contest and received a scholarship award.
Gomez's essay will be featured this Tuesday in the LocalLit newsletter.
Recently Gomez took a few minutes to speak via email with Herald-News features editor Denise M. Baran-Unland.
Baran-Unland: Tell us a bit about your writing background and the inspiration for this essay.
Gomez: I started writing at a very young age. Being the daughter of an English teacher, I was always reading and creating my own stories.
Entering high school, I began to tackle more serious topics through essays and poetry as well as writing for the school newspaper. Writing just became second nature to me, it became my passion.
My favorite classes in high school were always my English classes. I enjoyed them so much I took AP English both junior and senior year.
The topic for the essay was “What is the biggest problem you think America will face in the future?” I just thought back to everything I’ve seen in the news and experienced personally.
I had just finished filling out college applications and though I had entered so much information about myself by checking off boxes, I still felt the colleges I applied to had no idea who I was or the potential I had.
And that’s when I knew the biggest problem we face is not really seeing and accepting people for who they are. We need to be united before we can be a successful nation.
Baran-Unland: What motivated you to enter the contest? What was your reaction when you learned the results?
Gomez: My school counselors at Joliet Catholic had presented me with the opportunity to enter the Daughters of The American Revolution Good Citizen Scholarship contest.
I gratefully accepted and started the process by filling out an application, obtaining letters of recommendation, and completing my timed essay.
I was quite nervous being that the essay was timed, but I answered the prompt honestly and completely, with everything coming from the heart. My response was my genuine opinion. I couldn’t view the essay once I submitted it, so I had forgotten what I written in the moment. I was ecstatic when they contacted me to tell me I had won.
Being recognized for my passion has given me the confidence to continue to pursue writing.
Baran-Unland: What types of topics do you like to tackle when you write?
Gomez: Honestly, I only tackle topics that I feel passionately about. I’m a firm believer that you can only achieve something great if you are passionate about it.
Some topics that I have written about in essays and poems include unity in America, border control, feminism, and my own personal journey with my faith. Though these topics may come with backlash and criticism, I don’t tend to stray from them.
I’m just a teenager who’s developing opinions and a voice of my own, and I’m finding that voice through my writing.
Baran-Unland: Give a one-line summary about your essay.
Gomez: My essay delves into how American society has taught us to divide ourselves and one another and how we must find the humanity in each other again through the celebration of diversity.
Baran-Unland: Where are you planning to attend college, and what you will study? Why?
Gomez: I am currently attending the University of Saint Francis in Joliet and majoring in communications. I plan to pursue my passion through a job writing or broadcasting for a news outlet in Chicago. I also hope to one day publish a book of my own poetry.
Regardless, I don’t plan to stop writing ever. I want to keep sharing my words with the world.
Each week LocalLit will deliver an original short and family-friendly story, or a book review, by a local author to the newsletter's subscribers.
Authors with a connection to our readership area may submit. Submission does not guarantee acceptance. Stories should be edited and between 1,000 words and 7,500 words.
Contact Denise M. Baran-Unland at 815-280-4122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up for the free LocalLit newsletter at theherald-news.com/newsletter/locallit/#//. Gomez's essay will appear this Tuesday.
Past LocalLit authors include Ken McGee of Plainfield, Norm Cowie of Chicago, Tom Hernandez of Plainfield, Vanessa Stephens of Joliet, Anne Anderson of Sandwich, Joshua Henderson of Joliet, Peggy Lindstrom of Shorewood, Carolyn Hill of New Lenox, Sharon Houk of Joliet, James Guseman of Oswego, Allison Rios of Joliet, Colleen Robbins of Joliet, Diane Maciejewsk of Elgin, Denise Issert of Wilmington, Bill McCormick of Chicago, J. Terence (the pen name of Joe Wengler) of Plainfield, Larry Zoeller of Downers Grove, Robert Hafey of Joliet, Ramesh Shah of St. Charles, Dawn Plestina of New Lenox, Wendy Bialek of St. Charles and Vern Coop of Joliet.