Student Writers Honored by Senator McLachlan, Union Savings Bank

May 3, 2011

Sen. Michael McLachlan (far left) and Union Savings Bank President Jay Lent (far right) congratulate the winners of the essay contest. From Left to Right: McLachlan, Tess Michaelsen (St. Peter-Sacred Heart School), Julia Farkas (St. Joseph School), Laura Mezzetta (St. Gregory the Great School), Michael Carroll (Sherman School), Zoё Coleman (Rogers Park Middle School), Lent.

Local student essayists were honored at Danbury City Hall on Thursday April 28 when State Senator Michael McLachlan (R-Danbury) and Union Savings Bank President Jay Lent presented the National Women’s History Month Essay Contest Awards.

Students from public and parochial elementary schools in the greater Danbury area participated in the contest by submitting an essay about a woman of influence.

Prizes for the winner and runner-up from each school were generously donated by Danbury’s Union Savings Bank.

“The research conducted by these students was excellent and their writing is top-notch,” McLachlan said. “We are very proud of them. Encouraging our young people to be effective communicators is a very important aspect of their education and I was thrilled to host this great event. Many thanks to Union Savings Bank for donating the contest prizes. Without their generosity, this event would not have been possible.”

“Union Savings Bank is a strong supporter of youth programs, education and the arts throughout western Connecticut,” Lent said. “Senator Mclachlan’s essay contest brings area schools, students, teachers and parents together in a collaborative effort which encourages kids to research and write about influential and inspiring Connecticut women. We’re proud to support the contest and we congratulate the winners and runners-up for their very thoughtful efforts.”

The list of winners and runners-up are as follows:


Rogers Park Middle School: Zoe Coleman
Essay Topic: Mary Kies

o Kies patented a hat-making technique she invented, weaving straw with silk or thread.
o Kies opened the door for other women to petition for patents of their own
o Zoe Coleman hopes to obtain a patent for her invention

Sherman School: Michael Carroll
Essay Topic: Dorrit Hoffleit:

o Hoffleit, an astronomer, worked in famous research labs and observatories computing missile trajectories and star cataloging.
o Hoffleit mentored undergrads in a summer program and opened the door for other women to the field of astronomy

St. Gregory The Great: Laura Mezzetta
Essay Topic: Dr. Emily Dunning Barringer

o Barringer earned her medical degree, but despite her high exam scores she was denied a position at Gouverneur Hospital in New York because of her gender.
o Her persistence pursuing a career in the medical field has opened doors for other women.
o Laura Mezetta aspires to become a neurosurgeon.

St. Joseph School: Julia Farkas
Essay Topic: Harriet Beecher Stowe

o Author, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
o Through her writing, Beecher Stowe drew attention to social injustices like slavery, and discrimination based on gender and religion during a time when women could not speak out.

St. Peter-Sacred Heart School: Tess Michaelsen
Essay Topic: Emeline Roberts Jones

o Roberts Jones was the first female dentist – she secretly pursued her interest without her husband’s knowledge. Her husband was also a dentist.
o Through persistence she proved her skills and they became partners in dentistry.


Rogers Park Middle School: Bradley Fox
Essay Topic: Jody Cohen:

o Cohen was the first female Rabbi with tenure toward her congregation
o She created the first synagogue-run day care.

Sherman School: Lizzie Swanson
Essay Topic: Constance Baker Motley

o Baker Motley fought for civil rights as a legal assistant educated at Columbia University
o She fought school desegregation cases and was the first U.S. District Court Chief Judge.

St. Gregory The Great: Bonnie VosWinkel
Essay Topic: Rosalind Russel

o Russel pursued a career in acting. At first she was unsuccessful, and was told she would never make it.
o After auditioning 5 times, she landed a lead role where she met her husband
o Bonnie VosWinkel’s ambition is to become an actress

St. Joseph School: Martha Haddad
Essay Topic: Emeline Roberts Jones

o Roberts Jones was the first female dentist. She followed her dream to become a dentist during a time when women were considered frail and incapable.
o She excelled in a male profession in the face of adversity

St. Peter-Sacred Heart School: Shelby Alves
Essay Topic: Sophie Tucker

o Tucker was a famous singer and actress in the 1900s.
o Shelby Alves aspires to achieve the same success as Sophie Tucker.