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Miami Herald Staff
A South Florida student was chosen by fans as ``America's favorite dancer'' on Thursday night.
Jeanine Mason, an 18-year-old graduate of Ransom Everglades School, was declared the winner during the two-hour finale of season five of the Fox's hit show, So You Think You Can Dance.
Mason, who grew up in Pinecrest, will receive a $250,000 cash prize.
She plans to attend UCLA, where she will major in journalism, although dancing and acting beckon. She says she has three passions: theater, dance and acting.
As I was Googling Mason (because we journalism people are creepy that way), I came across an essay she wrote for the 2004-2005 Junior Orange Bowl Creative Writing Contest. She's 18 now, so she was about 14 at the time. Here it is:
CELEBRATING FREEDOM AS AN AMERICAN
By Jeanine Mason
I am pro-choice. If you disagree with me will you hurt me, will you isolate me, and will you take my life from me? No because I am American.
Every day in this country we have the opportunity to speak our mind. We can believe in what we think is right. We can fight and argue for what we think is wrong.
As an American I treasure this, and as a student who has been encouraged to become a lawyer I always take advantage of this. While writing this paper I wondered if there are children in other countries like Cuba, which close their eyes and imagine themselves in America. Do they say to themselves in the lightest of whispers, so quiet and so secretly that their small lips seem to not even move, “I believe…” “I think…” “I want…”? Do they dream of raising their voice so that they are heard? But then they open their eyes and realize that if they do those might be their last words.
My entire family is Cuban and I am extremely proud of my heritage. I know that I unlike my family in Cuba can say “I am pro-choice,” “I believe the Vietnam War was pointless,” “I disagree with Fidel Castro and the communist government and want nothing more than to get them out of Cuba.” I unlike the residents of Cuba would be able to live to see if I made a difference because my beliefs were heard. I know that people in other countries not only Cuba would give everything they have for themselves or their children to be able to have the freedom we have here in America. For this reason I always speak my mind and always explain to others why I believe and in what I believe.
In America we not only get to raise our voice, but we can make sure what we say is heard. There are many ways we can make a difference. Voting is one way millions of Americans exercise their ability to make a difference. Every American should vote for as many political positions as possible. Even if time only permits you to vote for the presidential elections and then run back to your busy life in a busy country.
Americans celebrate freedom in America on July 4, with fireworks, parties, or other traditions. My family and I celebrate freedom in America everyday. All of my family votes and always come home overflowing with joy, knowing they expressed their ability to be heard. I celebrate freedom in America by participating in class discussions and expressing what I think, and then letting out a sigh of happiness knowing I am an American.
We sometimes forget how fortunate we are to live in this great country. We unlike the little boy, who closed his eyes and dreamed of being in our place, are able to live his dream. We unlike the little boy don’t have to whisper. I am pro-choice.
Ransom Everglades Middle School