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Winners of “My Job, My Future” Student Essay Contest honored
Nov. 16, 2015

A video slideshow with highlights from the "My Job, My Future" Student Essay Contest award ceremony is shown above. View a photo of the winners at the bottom of this page.

HEHERKIMER – “My Job, My Future” Student Essay Contest top prize winner Reilly Rich’s essay talked about much of the positive developments taking place in the Mohawk Valley such as nanotechnology, new restaurants, the Rockin’ Jump trampoline park opening soon in New Hartford, the Utica Comets, new hotels and plans for a new hospital.

Reilly, an eighth-grader from Central Valley who read her essay during an award ceremony on Monday, Nov. 16, at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES, also expressed a sentiment in her essay’s conclusion that summarized the goal behind the essay contest.

“I don’t know about you, but I am excited about my future and what the Mohawk Valley has to offer,” she said.

The “My Job, My Future” Student Essay Contest is a collaboration among Herkimer College, Herkimer BOCES and The Genesis Group, and it was sponsored by Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield. The contest was part of a Herkimer County educational initiative to promote future career opportunities available in the Mohawk Valley region.

The winners were recognized with certificates of excellence, cash prizes and lunch for them and their families provided by the Herkimer County College Foundation. The ceremony took place in the Herkimer BOCES Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School (VP-TECH) classroom. VP-TECH students and representatives from The Genesis Group, Herkimer College, Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, Herkimer BOCES and local school districts were in attendance to view the ceremony.

In addition to Reilly, who won the top $500 prize, the other winners chosen from more than 100 essay entries were:
  • Elizabeth Morgan, Central Valley eighth-grader: $250.
  • Teddy Upson, Central Valley eighth-grader: $100.
  • Cecilia Tofani, Frankfort-Schuyler fifth-grader: $100.
  • Logan Doolen, Frankfort-Schuyler fifth-grader: $25.
  • Caroline Entwistle, Mount Markham fifth-grader: $25.
The essay contest was open to students in fifth grade through eighth grade in Herkimer County. Students were asked to write 250 to 500 words about what careers they are interested in, jobs they would like to see in the area in the future or how they see the future of jobs in the Mohawk Valley region.

In her essay, Reilly also said family is important to her, she had a good upbringing in the Mohawk Valley and she would like to raise a family in the region and pursue a career here.

“I would love to have a job close to home,” she said.

Logan also volunteered to read his essay – including talking about wanting to pursue old treasures such as is done on the television show “American Pickers.” At his mom’s advice, he also thought about a backup career, and he said he would like to help his community as a state trooper.

“The Mohawk Valley is a special place to live and work,” Logan said. “I am very proud to be a part of it.”

Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield Regional President Eve Van de Wal, The Genesis Group Executive Director Raymond Durso Jr., Herkimer College President Cathleen McColgin and Herkimer BOCES District Superintendent Mark Vivacqua also spoke during the ceremony.

The winning student essays mentioned career interests such as physical therapy, oncology, structural engineering and photography, Van de Wal said. The essays also talked about the importance of family, small businesses, the arts, the outdoors and the seasons, she said.

Van de Wal said what struck her most about the essays is that all the students wrote about wanting to be in the Mohawk Valley – with one student writing: “I am the future of the Mohawk Valley.”

“That is so true,” Van de Wal said. “All of you are.”

The Genesis Group Executive Director Raymond Durso Jr. said it was obvious the students understood the idea behind the essay contest that there are career opportunities in the region.

“They really put a lot of effort in,” Durso said. “And they get it. That’s what this initiative is all about.”

McColgin made a point to thank not only the winners, but all of the students who participated in the essay contest. She said the contest and partnering with Herkimer County school districts and Herkimer BOCES is part of Herkimer College’s goal of educating students in Herkimer County.

“We relish our mission,” McColgin said.

Vivacqua said Herkimer BOCES has focused on preparing students for college and careers for a long time, but also has recently been focusing increasingly on helping students and parents understand the opportunities that are here at home.

“That’s something we’re really excited about,” Vivacqua said.

Essay Contest winners
Herkimer County students who won awards in the “My Job, My Future” Student Essay Contest received their certificates and cash prizes on Monday, Nov. 16, in the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES VP-TECH classroom. Pictured from left to right: The Genesis Group Executive Director Raymond Durso Jr., student winner Caroline Entwistle, Herkimer BOCES District Superintendent Mark Vivacqua, student winner Elizabeth Morgan, student winner Reilly Rich, Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield Regional President Eve Van de Wal, student winner Teddy Upson, Herkimer College President Cathleen McColgin, student winner Logan Doolen and student winner Cecilia Tofani.

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