The New Jersey Hall of Fame and NJEA are pleased to announce the winners of its 2021 essay contest: Who belongs in the N.J. Hall of Fame?
Hanna Juma, an eighth grader at Glassboro Intermediate School in Gloucester County, won the middle school category for her essay on Mark Chitkwesit Mexhaniat “Quiet Hawk” Gould. Quiet Hawk has been the tribal leader of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape for four decades. His tribe, a union of the Nanticoke and Lenape peoples, has lived in Delaware and New Jersey for over 10,000 years. He grew up in Bridgeton, NJ, and played a major role in the public reorganization of the tribe in the 1970s. He’s been an active voice for the rights of indigenous people.
Naima Bari, a ninth grader at the Diana C. Lobosco STEM Academy in Passaic, is the high school winner for her essay on Selman Abraham Waksman. Born in Nova Pryluika (now the Ukraine), Waksman emigrated to a small farm on the outskirts of Metuchin, NJ, when he was 22. He enrolled in Rutgers College (now University) on a state scholarship in 1911, and as a student, discovered a microorganism called Actinomycetales which produces streptomycin, an antibiotic. After completing his master’s degree and PhD, he returned to Rutgers. He went on to earn a Nobel Prize for discovering streptomycin and over the course of his career would continue to discover and isolate over 15 different antibiotics.
The essay winners will be recognized by the NJ Hall of Fame at a media event.