They Are My Brothers and Sisters

Shaniece L. Brown was recognized for her essay “Diversity in America

CSM’s Essay Contest Winner Values Diversity By Understanding Others’ Differences

“Who are these people with different skin…different religions? Why are they in my country? Where did they come from?” So begins Shaniece L. Brown's essay “Diversity in America,” winner of the College of Southern Maryland's annual Black History Month essay contest.

“I wanted my essay to emphasize that these are questions we all ask,” said Brown, who is a senior at Henry E. Lackey High School. “To get around our fear and misconceptions of one another, people must make the time and make an effort to learn about one another and find the value in the customs of other races,” said Brown. Previously, Brown lived in Greenbelt and attended several schools in Virginia and Maryland that opened her to diversity. “When I was in the second grade, I attended a school with a large Hispanic population and I remember how special it was to me that some of the girls in my class taught me a little Spanish. My favorite word was elefante (elephant). I liked how it sounded out loud,” said Brown.

In her essay, Brown writes about a friend she's made from Liberia, and writes, “…knowing this girl and her background, I have received a partial understanding of the diverse world, and I am learning how to handle individual differences…the knowledge gained and the missions accomplished in the world would have never happened if cultures did not come together…[understanding one another and valuing everyone's differences will] create solutions to many questions and arguments. The people with different skin and religions are my neighbors. They are in my country for the same reason I am in my country…for success. These people came from my lord.”

“I just wanted to show that everyone is related in God's way. We are all brothers and sisters in his eyes, and we should open ourselves up to the different experiences we can have through one another,” said Brown.

Brown has been accepted to George Mason University but is still considering other options. As the winner of CSM's Black History Month Essay contest, Brown received a $500 performance award to attend CSM which she says she may use next fall. “I want to go into George Mason or wherever with a clear goal in mind. I would like to work in another country, like Africa, and help rural village children. I want to adopt unwanted children, I want to study abroad, and I want to do something important, something that makes a difference in children's lives; I just haven't figured out how I am going to do it yet,” said Brown.

For more than a decade, CSM's Diversity Office has invited Southern Maryland's high school juniors and seniors to participate in the college's black history month essay contest. Participants select a topic from a provided list and essays are evaluated on clarity, coherence and content. For information about CSM's contest, contact Jennifer Lesesne, 301-934-7659 or 301-870-2309, Ext. 7659 for Charles County; 240-725-5499, Ext. 7659 for St. Mary's County; 443-550-6199, Ext. 7659 for Calvert County.