Maryam Tunkara

Maryam Tunkara is a 16 year old junior from West Chester, Ohio. She attends the Butler Tech Bioscience Center. Maryam is passionate about community education. She is part of a green engineering initiative at her local mosque, aimed at changing the community’s attitude towards waste. She is also junior class representative for her school’s student government. She believes the public should have awareness of government policies and should participate in collaborative change. In her free time, she enjoys lacrosse, portrait painting, and rollerblading. Besides politics, she is also passionate about healthcare, especially in the teenaged population. In the future, she hopes to go into public health.

Watch Maryam’s Winning PSA Below:

Our Interview With Maryam

Was this the first time you entered the contest?
Yes it was!

How did you hear about the contest?
I think I heard about it through my government teacher.

What inspired your work?
I researched a lot of bills and initiatives, both in federal and state governments. I ended up deciding to go with only federal measures, but I still learned a lot about my state and local government.

What did you learn while creating your entry?
I’m hoping to create an educational website/app that makes government and politics accessible to teens. If all goes well, I’d also like to host a Constitutional discussion forum for interested teens and young adults to expand their knowledge of the subject.

How do you plan to spread the word this year to your peers about the importance of the U.S Constitution?
Starting conversation about relevant topics of today while intertwining the importance of the Constitution is probably the best way to spread the word. Most of my classes are discussion based, which leaves a lot of room for student driven conversation.

How do your friends respond to history or talking about the Constitution?
It really depends; most of them don’t care much for the Constitution or government at all, some of them like talking about the government/politics but not the constitution. Thankfully I do have a few friends with interests in the Constitution; my freshman year, we started a debate club surrounding it. Unfortunately I left the school after that year, but we keep in touch.

What do you love about U.S History and the forming of our government?
My favorite thing about US History is the complexity of the country on so many different levels. From the smallest towns to the biggest courts, there are so many little facets that go into managing and governing the US. Especially since it’s historically been a cultural melting pot and there are a lot of perspectives to understand.

Which U.S. historical site would you like to visit?
I hope to visit Virginia, so I can see the site of the Jamestown colony.

Which American historical figure is most influential/inspirational to you?
Franklin D. Roosevelt is one of the most inspirational figures to me. In my opinion, the sheer amount that he got done throughout his terms in office was incredible. It really inspires me to think that even in such trying times, dedicated politicians can bring about real results.

Who is your greatest role model?
My greatest role model is probably my older cousin Penda. She’s so passionate about what she does and so kind to everyone she comes across. She’s going into medical school soon, and I have nothing but respect for her since she worked so hard to get there.

What in your life are you most passionate about?
I am passionate about community-driven efforts like my local public garden, community art gallery, and healthcare association.

How do you spend your free time?
I like to spend my free time gardening, roller-blading, playing lacrosse, and painting. I also like watching video essays about various topics.

What are your plans for the future?
In the future, I hope to get a graduate degree in the medical field, and then work as a public health professional. I want to help educate communities and guide regulation relating to the healthcare field.

If you could do one super impactful thing to help people, what would it be?
If I could do anything, I might create a language that all people can understand and speak. But more realistically, I’d like to help make the average working class person’s voice in government matter as much as the large organizations that donate.

Why is the Constitution relevant today?
The Constitution represents the key ideals of our nation. Studying the formation and evolution of the Constitution shows the evolution of the country, and it kind of shows where we are, where we came from, and where we’re going.

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