Editor’s note: More than 400 essays were submitted for 2016’s Governor for a Day contest. We thought it would be fun to read some of them. Here we offer the full essay from the winner, who spent a day with Governor Gina Raimondo, and small portions of the other top 10 essays.
Winner: Sophia Miranda, 11, Lincoln
The RI Governor’s job is to help people who live in our state. It must be a hard job because there are many different types of people who live here. As Governor for a day, I would want to help them all. These are kids and older people, adults who work and students, poor and rich people, sick and healthy people, and people of many different cultures.
One person cannot help everyone at once; but, one person, who cares a lot, can be a leader and work with a lot of people to get things done. As Governor, this would be the official order of business on my first day:
Meeting #1: I would meet with doctors to make sure all sick people get medicine.
Meeting #2: I would meet with food programs to make sure that we have enough food to give to poor people without enough to eat.
Meeting #3: I would meet with principals and teachers to talk about extra-credit projects (like this essay) to help students learn in different ways and to get better grades.
Lunch break: I am hungry now. I want to have lunch with my secretary and everyone else I work with so I can find out how their day is going.
Meeting #4: Some people who work don’t make enough money. I have to meet with companies to find ways to increase the amount of money they can pay their workers.
Meeting #5: Every meeting so far has been very important. This meeting means a lot to me because it is to talk about people of different cultures. People of different cultures may seem different, but they aren’t all that different. They speak other languages or do things differently sometimes, but, like many of us, they want to be healthy, go to school, and to work, too. My grandmother doesn’t speak or write English that well and she is older. It has been hard for her to find a job. This meeting will be to talk about teaching English and helping people of different cultures find better jobs.
It’s been a long day as Governor. I’m glad I could help so many people in RI. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or woman, young or old, or come from a family that speaks another language. To be a great Governor, you have to really care about people.
Top 5 Finalist: Abigail Wagner, 11, Jamestown
I would want to visit Rhode Island’s refugee centers. I’ve become very passionate about this topic after doing much research on refugees in school. I would find out what volunteer work, supplies, and programs they need. I would encourage people to do what the refugee centers need, to hopefully make Rhode Island a more welcoming state for people coming here. I would absolutely love to meet all the refugees and hear their stories.
Top 5 Finalist: Ibiolatiwa Akomolafe, 14, Pawtucket
I would help and support all the single parents and widowers. Growing up with a single mother I understand the struggles. My mother works three jobs just to keep my sister and me in school, give us shelter and put food on the table. Despite her hardships, my mom continues to smile and inspire others. I want to be like my mother. I want people to look at me as an inspiration and say “Because of you, I didn’t give up.”
Top 5 Finalist: Rebecca Kilday, 11, West Greenwich
I would meet with educational leaders to discuss the importance of computer education. I have been inspired by Reshma Saujani who presented a TED Talk about teaching girls bravery instead of perfection and founded a program called Girls Who Code to educate, inspire and equip girls with the skills and resources needed to be successful. Currently in Rhode Island, there are only three [Girls Who Code] clubs. I would recognize participants and leaders of these initial clubs in the hopes of creating more clubs and inspiring girls from all socioeconomic areas to grow into tomorrow’s leaders.
Top 5 Finalist: Isabella Garces, 11, Smithfield
I feel it is important to ensure that all kids receive the same public free education. All of our schools should be held to the same standards. It shouldn’t matter if one community has higher poverty than another. All kids deserve a great education and I would be sure to supply them with the tools they need to become great adults. I would also work with city officials to make sure that parks and fields are in great play condition. I would help lower income communities with uniforms and gear. I think that sports and fitness are extremely important and can teach a child teamwork, confidence, and to strive for the future.
Top 5 Finalist: Alexandra Lastor, 14, Providence
The first thing I would do is visit where I grew up to see where I could improve the life of citizens in that neighborhood. Growing up in the West End of Providence, it wasn’t always safe to play outside. I believe that if youth had positive opportunities to play and work in the West End, then there would be less street violence and crime. If I were Governor, I would go to my middle school and community center and talk to teenagers there. I would try to be an example for being a successful young Hispanic woman.
Finalist: Aisha Alabede, 11, Providence
I would help immigrants, like my family. My mom and dad are from Nigeria. My mom had a really hard life while growing up in Africa. Her father died when she was six years old and her mother had so many children that she was sold off to another family. My mom had to take care of herself, no one helped her with anything. I can say I am thankful for my mother and I am happy that I have an easier life here. Knowing about my family’s difficult life in Nigeria has affected who I am today.
Finalist: Charlotte Flynn, 12, West Warwick
The first thing I would do would be to work to find money to repair dilapidated schools. My school, for instance, has leaky ceilings which cause the floors to rot and become moldy. Our heating system is in such disrepair that during the cold weather students need to dress in layers and keep their outerwear on all day. These things make it near impossible to fully pay attention and also make my school an uncomfortable environment. I feel that myself as well as other students would be more successful in a place where we’re comfortable and feel safe.
Finalist: Savannah Benskin, 10, Cumberland
I would set up a state-wide day where young people in middle and high school would get the opportunity to explore and interact with professionals in the defense, healthcare, Information Technology services, and bio medical fields. My goals would be to bring students awareness – there is a saying that goes, “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it!” As Governor for the Day I would change that.
Finalist: Lotus Chu, 13, Providence
I would do everything in my power to bring forth equality to the LGBT community. I would emphasize the significance of looking upon members of the LGBT community as one would anyone else, as well as just how negative of an impact intolerance can have on them. To add to this, I would propose that gender ambiguous restrooms be available … to take into consideration that “LGBT” also refers to those whose gender identity doesn’t align with their biological sex, and therefore would like to use a restroom without being judged harshly for it.