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Winners of AAUW literary award named

JOHNSTOWN — The Amsterdam-Gloversville-Johnstown branch of the American Association of University Women announced the winners of the 2020 AAUW Dorothy Wemple Literary Award, according to a news release.

The first place award of $500 went to Alissa Mangiaracina from Gloversville High School. The second place award of $300 was received by Amsterdam High School graduate, Astrid Dimas.

Those entering the contest wrote an essay answering the question, “This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. It was clearly a breakthrough moment but it does not stand alone. We would like you to reflect on all of the changes in women’s lives since 1920 as well as the challenges that women still face in the 21st century. Tell us what you think has been women’s greatest achievement/moment of progress between 1920 and 2020 and what you hope to see as women’s next big breakthrough moment. Explain what makes these compelling choices for you.”

The essays were evaluated both on content and presentation. The judges looked at how much applicants knew about both the last 100 years of women’s history and present day challenges for women as well as the student’s ability to articulate their ideas clearly.

The first place winner, Alissa Mangiaracina of Gloversville, stressed women’s achievement in accessing education, especially ivy league colleges. She connected that to women’s ability to pursue careers just as men do. She looks forward to a woman being elected as president. However, she stressed the best outcome will be one where the person is elected because of ideas and experience and less about gender. Mangiaracina included historical detail which enhanced the essay. Mangiaracina will attend Hamilton College.

Astrid Dimas, from Amsterdam High School, included the perspective as a Hispanic woman in the essay. She considers women’s embrace of activism and their own empowerment to be the big achievement. Dimas wrote about women publicly demonstrating for what they want and not being afraid to assert themselves. She included historical examples as well as the more recent Me Too Movement and Body Positivity Movement. Going forward, Dimas is hoping to see more Latina women as role models in government and careers. Dimas is considering University of Albany, Mt. St. Mary’s and New York University.

The contest is open to students in Fulton, Montgomery and Hamilton counties. The AAUW Literary Award is given annually in memory of Dorothy Anderson Wemple who was a member of AAUW for over 50 years and a member of the local AAUW branch since its inception in 1967. Wemple, who died in 2007, was an English teacher at Knox Junior High School in Johnstown and was a past judge for the essay contest which began in 1991.

Laurie Kozakiewicz served as chair of the AAUW High School Literary Award. The readers included Kozakiewicz, Mary Jablonsky, and Ginni Mazur.

AAUW is an organization of college graduates whose mission is to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.

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