we are home

Shristi Sharma, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, won the top prize of $5,000. (unc.edu photo

The Indian American Impact Project Nov. 10 announced the winners and finalists of its We Are Home essay contest, with North Carolina-based Shristi Sharma taking the grand prize.

The contest is an opportunity open to undocumented and documented South Asian DREAMers who face many obstacles including constant uncertainty over their status and limited opportunities for employment, scholarships, and financial aid, a news release said.

“The dozens of submissions we received from students in more than 22 states reflect the need for comprehensive immigration reform” Sarah Shah, director of community engagement at Impact Project, said in a statement. “These youth, who only know the United States as home, represent the very best of America and deserve a clear pathway to citizenship.”

For winning the top prize, Sharma, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, received $5,000.

“I am incredibly grateful for Impact’s initiative to elevate the stories of documented dreamers like me,” Sharma said. “I never imagined getting such an honor and I’m thankful to be able to help bring visibility to our situation for the first time; knowing that people care about hearing our stories is extremely uplifting.”

Sharma had the opportunity to read her winning poem in front of distinguished guests such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer at the Impact Project’s Diwali Reception on Nov. 3 in Washington, D.C.

Other winners of the contest included Manasvi Perisetty of Texas, who took second place and $2,500; and Kushi Patel of Indiana and Reet Mishra of California, who tied for third and received $500 each.

Ayaan Siddiqui of Arizona, Sneha Shrinivas of Texas, Bhavey Jain of Indiana, Pareen Mhatre of Iowa, Sai Sumana Kaluvai of California and Sarvani Kunapareddy of Illinois were the finalists.

All winners and finalists will be invited to Washington, D.C., for an event with special guests, and their essays published in Brown Girl Magazine, the Impact Project said.

All of the winners’ stories can be accessed at www.iaimpact.org/essaycontest

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