Junior wins state VFW essay contest, heads to nationals

Abigail Clawson (right), a junior at North Sanpete High School, will represent Utah in the national Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy audio essay contest in Washington, D.C. in March. Standing with her, Stanley Martinez, Utah State VFW commander, congratulates her on winning the essay contest at the state level in Utah.


Junior wins state VFW essay

contest, heads to nationals


By Linda Petersen

Staff writer

Jan. 28, 2018


MT. PLEASANT—The local winner of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post No. 9276’s Voice of Democracy audio essay contest has gone on to win the state competition.

Abigail Clawson, 16, of Fairview and a junior at North Sanpete High School will now compete at nationals.

For the VFW competition, participants submitted a three-to-five-minute recorded essay on this year’s theme: “American History: Our Hope for the Future.”

“History is perhaps the most vital and relevant subject any student, no matter the career or future path they choose, will ever take. History has more lessons to teach, more lives to help and more influence on future generations than any other class, and when this effect is closed in to focus on one source, the power in it grows exponentially,” Abigail wrote in her essay.

She added, “That is why the history of one of the world’s most influential and powerful countries, the United States of America, is one of the most hopeful, important and even vital histories the world has to offer to anyone, American or not, and also is the one that has the most chance of changing the future and inspiring people to step up and make a difference.”

Along with winning the Mt. Pleasant post’s competition in December before heading to state, Abigail won at the district level, beating out more than 100 other entries.

A panel of judges recently chose Abigail’s essay to represent the state in the national competition from among the winners in the six Utah VFW districts.

She won $250 and an all-expenses-paid trip with one of her parents (they haven’t decided which one) to Washington, D.C., to compete at nationals March 3-7 for a $30,000 grand-prize scholarship and other prizes and to tour the city.

“I think it’s incredible. They not only give you the scholarship, they also give you the opportunity to go back to Washington, D.C. I’m really excited to go back there,” said Abigail, whose family briefly visited the city for a day a few years ago.

Abigail was honored at a VFW state awards dinner in Layton on Jan. 13 where she received a certificate, plaque and $250 and afterward read her essay aloud to the audience.

She said this is the first time she has ever entered a contest like this and did so at the suggestion of school counselor Ben Cox.

“I was the only junior who entered from my school. All the rest were seniors, so I was pretty surprised when I found out,” she said.

Prior to Abigail’s trip to Washington, D.C., VFW State Voice of Democracy Program Chair Elmer Inman will present her with a plaque in an assembly at the high school.

“We’re all very excited here at our post just to see our efforts and Abigail’s efforts pay off. It’s kind of a big deal,” Post No. 9276 Scholarship Committee Chair Jaime Rodriguez said.

According to the national VFW website, each year nearly 40,000 high school students compete in the essay contest for more than $2 million in scholarships and incentives.

Three years ago, the Mt. Pleasant post had a competitor go to state, but the student did not win there.