By Bryan Boggiano
The Coral Springs city commission recognized Sawgrass Springs Middle School student Dmitri Francois for tying for first place at the 2022 Florida Women’s History Essay Contest for Middle School Students on December 7.
Francois, an eighth-grader under the guidance of his language arts teacher, Fitz Lewis, wrote about Monique Ross, an engineer and assistant professor of engineering education at Florida International University.
“I want to take the time to thank my family for their continued support and also to my principal for her service to my school,” he said. “Both are the only reasons why I’m here today.”
The Florida Commission on the Status of Women sponsors the annual competition.
According to city documents, the essay contest celebrates how women’s history became interwoven into the state and national story.
Commissioner Nancy Metayer Bowen introduced the recognition to honor Francois, saying the city is proud of his achievement.
As he accepted the honor, Francois was surrounded by his family, Principal Melinda Frame-Wessinger, Lewis, and Tracy Merlin, commissioner for the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.
“How amazing is it that a young man chose to write about and uplift a woman,” Merlin said. “Let’s take that in for just a second because it is so very powerful.”
Merlin said for the contest’s ninth year, participants wrote about a Florida woman inventor or STEM professional who inspires them.
The 2022 contest had 87 essays submitted, each one between 250 and 500 words. The other first-place winner in the 7th-grade category was Simone Adams of Western Pines Middle School.
Francois’s winning essay received a certificate of achievement from the Florida Commission, a letter from Governor Ron DeSantis, and a $100 cash prize.
In her remarks, Merlin applauded Francois’s academic achievements and invited Francois to read his essay for the commission and meeting attendees.
“As a black, female STEM professional, [Monique Ross] has a voice that should be heard,” he read from his essay.
Francois said Ross uses her research to increase participation in STEM, specifically in computer science, by using identity theory and studying workplace resilience. Her studies consider factors such as age, race, and gender.
“Ross shows how far women have come in the STEM field, and her work shows a great journey ahead,” Francois said.
- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan is pursuing his masters in geosciences at Florida International University. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.
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