For the last five years, Brooklyn public high school seniors have had the opportunity to apply for the Joseph E. Mohbat Price for Writing in memory of Verdery Knights. The Mohbat Prize for Writing recognizes a talented and motivated Brooklyn public high school senior who has demonstrated a gift of self-expression through the written word. This year, the prestigous award went to Keitha-Clemon Duhaney, a 2016 graduate of Benjamin Banneker Academy for Community Development in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn.
Applicants were required to submit an original essay that artfully answered the question, “What is Special to Me about Brooklyn?” while they also had to include a writing sample from an existing portfolio. Ms. Duhaney’s essay, was written in the form of a poem and received the most votes from the judges on the selection committee.
Keitha says that writing “has always been an escape,” and when she writes, “all the things that stress and depress,” her just melt away.
The writing award was created in 2011 to memorialize Joseph Mohbat, a well-recognized journalist, lawyer and long-time Brooklyn resident, as well as Verdery Knights, an outstanding student at Benjamin Banneker Academy, whose untimely death occurred in 2008. Prior to her death, Mr. Mohbat had been an inspiring mentor to Ms. Knights as she explored her passion for poetry and journalism.
Upon receiving the award, Duhaney expressed her plans to major in Psychology at Penn State and minor in English. She also explained that her long term goal is to become the first African-American, female Supreme Court Justice.
The $2,500 Mohbat prize award is divided between Ms. Duhaney and a writing internship through the NYC High School Journalism Collaborative. As the winner, she will receive ongoing mentoring throughout the process of developing her stories thanks to the Harnisch Journalism Projects at Baruch College.
This year’s runner-up was Nahian Chowdhury, a resident of Crown Heights resident, who is a 2016 graduate of Midwood High School. Chowdhury will be attending Barnard College in New York City.