DOWNEY – Warren High School Senior Bernard Carrillo has won first place and a $1,000 award in the Optimist Club of Downey’s 2016 Essay Contest for members of the Warren Humanitarian Society.
Other winners included:
• Second Place and a $500 Award: Ashley Torres
• Third Place and a $400 Award: Cristian Pardo
• Fourth Place and a $300 Award: Sarah Aguilar
• Fifth Place and a $200 Award: Daniel Pardo
• Honorable Mention and a $100 Award: Brittney Lizarrage
• Honorable Mention and a $100 Award: Alexis Cabada
• Honorable Mention and a $100 Award: Diego Ramirez
The students each wrote a 700-to-800 word essay on “Leading By Example: Reality or Fiction”, this year’s topic for Optimist Club Essay contests for high school students throughout the world.
The Humanitarian Society is sponsored by the local Optimist Club. In addition to proudly wearing the name of the Optimist Club of Downey on their club T-shirts, the Humanitarian Society assists the Optimists with major events such as their annual Charity Golf Tournament and the Halloween Pumpkin Patch.
“We salute the tremendous commitment and thousands of hours of volunteer work the Humanitarian Society members give within the City of Downey each year, said Optimist Club of Downey President Fred Donnelly. “They are also to be congratulated for writing one of the best groups of essays we’ve ever judged.”
As is The Downey Patriot’s tradition, we will print the top entry in the essay contest in its entirety.
Here is Bernard’s contest-winning entry:
“Leading by example is a powerful reality. It makes possible a team’s ability to recognize and overcome obstacles: by combining individual and group strengths, allowing team members to accept responsibility for failures as well as successes in order to achieve optimal success. Although in some situations a leader may not be appointed or immediately emerge from within a group, its members will notice actions which provide leadership to others, and will naturally begin to follow that person’s leadership examples. This is one way of leading by example. It is my intent to illustrate different forms of leading by example in order to substantiate its use as a valid form of leadership.
"I strongly believe that leaders are not simply those who command others to perform different actions. A leader is someone who will perform an action and lead others to get things done, by doing them together. A leader does not label himself as a captain, boss, or leader. A leader is humble and inspires others to achieve success through his or her actions. The followers of such a leader-like individual realize the powerful influence of a positive attitude and willingness to work with others to achieve goals, which is the foundation of the work ethic they seek to maintain in their life.
"Encountering situations where there is a group which needs to accomplish something, in the absence of a designated person to lead the group, can be very difficult. The want for an individual to lead the group can be daunting, but someone must step up to the plate and lead. A few years ago, I competed in a 5K obstacle mud run race called “Run for your Lives,” where participants had to get through the entire course without having their three flags removed by role-playing “zombies.”
"During that race, a group of 30 people including myself approached a long, narrow straight-away filled with zombies attempting to remove our flags from us. We all knew that we needed to strategize before attempting this obstacle or else it was guaranteed that individually, each of us would be vulnerable to losing at least one flag. Although our entire group was comprised of strangers, one man spoke up and called out to us, “We need to all go at once. If we go one at a time, it’s pretty much guaranteed they’re going to get our flags. If we all go at once, there is a higher percentage that most of us will make it out with our flags not taken! Let’s go guys, we can do this!”
"Our group of 30 people listened to this stranger, a man none of us knew, and we agreed to follow his advice because it made good sense. As we arrived at the end of the straightaway, I noticed that many people, including myself, still had the same amount of flags they originally had before this obstacle: our de facto leader’s advice had proven wise: by following his example, we achieved success.
"The man whose advice we followed, who emerged from the group and decided to lead us, became our leader through his advice and example, not by virtue of his having been given the title of “leader.” He didn’t know a single person in our group of thirty people, yet he still wanted to help all of us succeed. His help was unconditional, as I saw him a few other times throughout the course giving advice to other groups also filled with strangers.
"This man demonstrated courageous attempts to help everyone achieve a common goal. He took calculated risks that demonstrated his personal commitment to a larger purpose. This man created solutions. He didn’t dwell on problems; rather, he was the first to offer a solution and then ask his team (us) to work together for the benefit and good of all.
"When I saw this man later throughout the course, he persisted in helping others who were struggling through the various course obstacles. There is a saying that a leader should “make it hard to spot the General by working like a soldier” -- became very clear seeing this man lead, by example, in action.
"Leading by example is a definite reality. People lead by example because they want others to succeed. To do this, leaders must show them the way by first doing themselves what they ask of others: this is leading by example, and it is a powerful means to achieve success.”
The winning students will receive their awards at the Optimist Club’s annual Scholarship and Awards Luncheon on Thursday, May 19 at the Rio Hondo Event Center, where the club’s annual scholarship awardees and Oratorical Contest winners will also be honored.
“The Warren Humanitarian Society students never cease to amaze us with the thoughtfulness, creativity and quality of their work,” said Optimist Scholarship Chair Beverly Mathis. “It will be a pleasure to honor these outstanding young people.”