Student Voice: Excerpts From the What Matters to Me Essay Contest

Student Voice
The winners of this year’s WMTM Essay Contest!

This spring, students in grades 5-7 participated in the Scott Center What Matters to Me Essay Contest during Reach Beyond Block. In responding to the prompt “What matters to me is…”, these learners wrote about a wide range of issues that they consider important, tying them to a UN Sustainable Development Goal and supporting their arguments with research and evidence. Topics included gender equality, climate action, racial equality sustainability, and Black Lives Matter, among many others. Read on for excerpts from contest submissions and to hear about some of the things that matter most to our students.


“Climate change is worsening, and it will continue to worsen. The investment of the fossil fuel industry is still greater than that of those fighting climate change.” -Zichen, Class of ‘23

“Someone who inspires me for what I can do to help create racial and gender equality is my mom, she has inspired me to stand up against racism and sexism.” -Keiran, Class of ‘23

“Baycats is a group. Everyone in this group is in high school. One of Baycats’ ideas is to defund big fossil fuel companies like Shell and then reinvest that money into other things that will help the world…This shows that anyone can make an impact, any age, any height, any mind, all humans can make a difference.” -Finn, Class of ‘22

“So enough with all the talking, what are we doing? What do we still need to do? We need police reform, we need body camera, improved police training and legislation to get rid of brutality.” -Chloe, Class of ‘23

“Industrial farming emits 576 million metric tons of methane every year. In case you don’t know what methane is, methane is a greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide, but it is 25x worse. Since we aren’t all going to go vegan, something you can do is buy meat and dairy products that were made in local farms not factories.” -Brody, Class of ‘22

“As the daughter of an Iranian immigrant and a Swede, I come from two countries which could not be more different in their stance on gender equality…Gender equality matters to me as girls and women from my mother’s country of Iran, and all countries, deserve the same rights as girls and women from my dad’s country of Sweden.” -Soraya, Class of ‘22

“Even though we must be physically distanced we must never feel emotionally distanced. Emotional connection during the pandemic is very important to me because mental health is also a very significant issue in society.” -Kara, Class of ‘22

“SDG 4, Quality Education, is something so many people don’t get. Over 200 million kids will be out of school in 2030…This subject matters to me because I can go out into the world and see people who don’t have access to education.” -Tess, Class of ‘22

“Think about it, it would be a dream if we all used solar energy because it would help the Earth so much and you can be part of helping make that dream come true.” -Danni, Class of ‘22

“By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. OceanHero is going to stop this with everyday searches…You can add OceanHero to Google Chrome.” -Neil, Class of ‘24

“Responsible consumption and production matters to me, and evidently it matters to the United Nations, too. This goal matters to me because I believe that making and using things efficiently is one of the most important things to do to help with the other Sustainable Development Goals.” -Quinn, Class of ‘22