My City Magazine Essay Contest Winners


We asked, and the younger City-zens delivered!

Over a dozen Genesee Intermediate School District seniors put their pens to paper and wrote essays about their experiences of Flint from their points of view.

The students answered the prompt: Compose an essay about how Greater Flint/Genesee County, your community, your school, a significant person, or a significant event has shaped who you are. Thank you to all who submitted!

MCM is proud to announce the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place Winners of the My City Magazine Essay Contest, and happy to print their works in this issue on the following pages.

1st – Rachel Briggs

2nd – Molly Killingbeck

3rd – Tiara Perkins

These three students will each receive a scholarship to help them further their education. But it’s not over yet; the 1st Place writer will be under consideration for the Grand Prize Scholarship, which will be announced in January 2017.

All the essays were judged by the My City Magazine Essay Contest Committee, consisting of My City editorial staff, local professors, and local professionals. A big “thank you” to: Professor Philip Greenfield, Associate Professor of English and Director of Mott Community College’s Writing Center; Dr. Robert Barnett, Professor and Dean of Education and Human Services at UM-Flint; and Michelle Dummer, Assistant Curator of Education at the Flint Institute of Arts. Your input is appreciated!

We hope you enjoy reading these thoughtful works – and visit for more developments in this exciting contest.

GISD High School Seniors: don’t forget to submit for MCM Essay Contest Prompt #2: Compose an essay about your thoughts on social media. Define the topic as you see it in today’s world. How has social media impacted you? The topic is open to interpretation and we are looking for original and creative ideas. The next deadline is September 30, 2016. For scholarship info, directions on how to enter, and to submit essays, visit


Taking an Unexpected Path to My Career Choice

By Rachel Briggs

Participating in high school sports has enhanced my perspective on life in so many valuable ways. I consider it a privilege to be on a sports team representing my high school – Hill McCloy High School in Montrose. The highest honor in my high school sports career was serving as the captain of my varsity basketball team. When the coach announced this title to me I immediately felt a stronger sense of responsibility and accountability to my teammates and coach. I knew part of this title was honorary, but also another part placed me on a different level with my coach. My coach trusted me, sought my opinion and included me on playing strategies and approaches to the game. Often, while the game was in progress my coach communicated with me his spur-of-the-moment thoughts. I listened intently with respect. I found it enlightening to engage in after-game conversation with my coach. We spoke about the game, mistakes made, and improvements for the next game. This dialogue between the coach and myself was usually an overall commentary on the game but through being a part of this process I continued learning and seeing the game through a new perspective.

Serving as a captain helped me develop self-motivation and determination and these traits, in my opinion, will certainly be an asset in my college and adult life. They also would benefit me at the beginning of my senior year in a way I never could have predicted. More on that later. As the captain, I did my best to spread enthusiasm to my teammates, whether or not we won or lost. Keeping optimism on the court as well as in the locker room was always a priority. I also wanted to set an example to my fellow players that I am continually working on increasing my desire to learn, practice and train. Being a captain didn’t exempt me from working hard, in fact, it made me work harder. I realized the importance of reaching goals as a team and also as an individual. Athletic participation in general has allowed and guided me to discover who I am in high school and has given me opportunities to meet new coaches, opponents and spectators who all have played a role in my growth. Coaches as well as teammates have taught me lessons related to cooperation, collaboration, discipline, persistence, dedication and commitment. However, without warning, developing these qualities would come to a screeching halt. Little did I know something unexpected would happen.

In addition to basketball, I am a member of two other varsity sport programs: volleyball and softball. Competitiveness is something I thrive on and I couldn’t wait for my senior year of sports to begin. All of my hard work from years of playing travel and school ball would finally be reaching a high point. I dreamed of taking charge on the court as a senior. I dreamed of surpassing my own record of 23 points in one game. However, something happened that would forever change my life.

One day during a summer volleyball practice, I dove for a ball and landed awkwardly. I suffered an injury to my knee known as a torn ACL, torn MCL and torn meniscus which required major surgery and months of physical therapy. The depth of my despair hurt more than my knee. I would not be playing basketball my senior year. I wallowed in pity and didn’t know who I was anymore. I felt my identity as a three-sport athlete simply vanish.

Before this injury happened, I was uncertain about what I wanted to do for my future career or occupation. However, attending physical therapy for six months opened my eyes to wanting to become a physical therapist. When I first walked into the physical therapy center, I could barely walk. With the help of my team and their encouragement, I successfully completed my physical therapy program. During my physical therapy sessions I began treating them as my new version of a “practice.” I put every drop of sweat into those sessions the same way I would have if I were practicing on the court. I was motivated and determined because of the positive vibes I received from my therapists and fellow injured student athletes I met. I had no idea there were so many student athlete injuries in Genesee County. I met so many talented athletes from various high schools. I realized I wasn’t alone in my experience. Eventually, I was released to be play sports again. Putting on a uniform to play softball was probably the highlight of my senior year. I was returning to being an athlete. Joy squeezed my heart! As I get into my “ready stance” on second base I have to admit my stance on life has changed drastically. I grew and matured in ways I could not have without my knee injury. I became a believer in the cliché, “Everything happens for a reason.” I was only able to persevere through this event because of my family and my supportive physical therapy team.

I never would have considered a career choice in physical therapy before my injury. Some of the hardest moments in life can shape us as individuals. I believe my injury, although difficult and challenging at first, was a blessing and helped transform my outlook on my future. I am thankful for the crisis that shook up my senior year as well as my perspective on life. A catastrophe turned into a beautiful awakening and is leading me toward a career where I will one day meet young athletes like myself. I’ll have the knowledge of what they’re going through and I’ll be a credible, believable mentor for them physically as their physical therapist, but I’ll also understand their hidden turmoil. That’s the part I’m grateful to have survived and triumphed through because it led me to focusing on entering and studying in a field I never imagined.

Rachel Briggs graduated from Hill McCloy High School and will attend Central Michigan University.



It Takes a Village

By Molly Killingbeck

There is an old proverb that states: it takes a village to raise a child. While I accredit much of my raising to my wonderful parents, I must also acknowledge the role that the Flushing Community School System has played in my upbringing. Along with teaching me the fundamental math, science and history lessons that I may or may not use later in life, Flushing has also provided me with diverse friendships, and instilled a confidence within me that I will forever be grateful for.

When I was born, my mother worked at Central Elementary, one of the four elementary buildings in the district. This was the same school that I attended for kindergarten through sixth grade. This was also the school where the wonderful staff of teachers and janitors alike welcomed me into their family from the very beginning. It is the school that I can go back to today as a senior in high school, and still feel welcome even now that my mom no longer works there. I can still remember feeling uneasy on my last day of sixth grade. I dreaded the idea of leaving the people who gave me the courage to get up and speak in front of my classmates. The people who took the time to know me and trust me enough to place me on the safety patrol. I remember that summer was over almost instantly, and it was time to attend Flushing Middle School. It was my first day, and after about 30 minutes of pure uncertainty and harsh hormonal imbalances, I came to the realization that no longer being a Central Cat was going to be okay. I was ready to take on new experiences with the friends I had made over the years and the playground lessons I had under my belt.

Of course, overall, middle school was a rough time. Everything is awkward when you are twelve or thirteen, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It turns out that the Flushing middle school teachers were not scary or consistently strict, but helpful and actually quite funny. I believe much of my wit and understanding of sarcasm is indebted to the FMS staff. I also believe middle school is the time when most kids figure out who they truly are. They do this by exploring different interests with opportunities and extracurricular activities that weren’t already offered in elementary school. I was fortunate in that Flushing offers an extensive amount of clubs, sports, and even classes for its students to use as an outlet to express themselves. If it wasn’t for Flushing Middle School, I would still think I was going to be a professional volleyball player and not an art education major.

I was extremely excited to go to the high school. I knew I wanted to pursue the arts and communication pathway, I had friends old and new moving up with me, and I was mildly immature but eager to be a freshman. Before school even started, I joined the golf team and made new upperclassmen friends that warned me of which teachers I did or did not want to have. I would soon learn that FHS teachers are extremely different from other educators in the district. They have higher expectations and a large amount of pressure on them to turn a bunch of rowdy Raiders into responsible adults. Essentially, they raise and discipline other people’s children, and they are phenomenal at it. One teacher who had a large impact on my character was my freshman English teacher. Thanks to him, I actively seek respect from others. He was the first teacher I ever had who spoke to me as an equal. His treating me as an adult gave me the confidence to act as one. Following my freshman year, I became involved in with the National Art Honor Society, joined student council, and even served a term as the vice president of my class for a year. I gained a desire to lead and develop relationships with my peers. After four years at FHS I am sure of myself and all that I am capable of, and I am ready for bigger things.

Flushing is the only district I have ever been a part of. We are a small community, and we are proud. We are like a giant family and I have always loved that. My schools have always given me a sense of security and belonging. They have raised me into the young woman I am today. I know that I am prepared for whatever life throws at me next because I survived the Flushing Community School System, and I loved every minute of it.

Molly Killingbeck graduated from Flushing Senior High School and will attend Michigan State University.



My City

By Tiara Perkins

I’m a Flint native, the seventh largest community in Michigan. According to “Neighborhood Scout,” it is also the seventh most dangerous city in the nation. Sadly, this reputation is an accurate depiction of my city. Flint is notorious for its poverty level and crime rate.

The heroes of my peers are rappers and gangsters rather than people who have and are paving a way for minorities and African Americans, which consume a great percentage of just less than the 100,000 person population. I understand the economy and many other factors attribute to Flint’s downfall like the unemployment rate, as well.

Flint is the birthplace of General Motors. For many years, people made a good living working for GM without a college education. This created a false reality for future generations, establishing a mindset that education is not necessary for financial stability, which attributes to 10.96% of Flint residents over the age of 25 having bachelor’s degrees, compared to the 34.04% national average. In recent years, GM has closed many Flint facilities, employing a lot less residents. The unemployment rate in Flint is 9.7%, compared to the 5.1% national average. Fear of inability to make ends meet has become a reality for many families within my community, as they struggle to find employment.

A lot of mainstream rap promotes gangs, money, and lavish lifestyles, which manipulate millennials into thinking demonstrations in songs are ways to a luxurious lifestyle. Rapper Chief Keef is one of many rappers who are glorified for their savage lyrics such as, “I will let my Glock blow, Nigga I ain’t scared. I’m a warrior with a thirty, Nigga I ain’t Curry.” It’s fairly simple to manipulate the minds of uneducated people. It’s also easy to appeal to a vastly unemployed community by selling them a lifestyle that’s commonly only attainable illegally for uneducated people.

Fortunately, I am not a victim. However, I have encountered many of my peers who are. When I was fourteen, I lost my friend Denzel to street violence. Sadly, murder only became common to me. Living in Flint has inspired me to motivate others from impoverished areas to be influenced by education and to prove there is a way out. I aspire to prove that through education and faith, all things are possible. I want to spread assurance that education is more promising than the fatal streets of Flint. Putting my city on the map for a positive reason, rather than a charity case would definitely fulfill my desire to rebuild Flint, Michigan. Through education, we can fix these problems by finding more promising jobs to support our families. In my community, I am a minority, not because of my race, rather because of my passion for education. My desire to personify my favorite Albert Einstein quote, “The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before,” exceeds any desire to fit in.

Tiara Perkins graduated from Carman-Ainsworth High School and will attend Wayne State University.



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