A panel of independent judges have selected Hender Hernandez Caba, a rising senior at Thomas R. Proctor High School, as the winner of the annual Give Back to Utica essay contest and recipient of a paid summer internship at the Utica Public Library.
The internship is made possible by the Give Back to Utica Fund, a donor-advised fund of the Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties. The fund was created by former Utica resident Steven H. Oram, of Washington, D.C.
“I am pleased that this fund is able to reward and inspire those young adults whose lives have been positively impacted by growing up in Utica,” said Oram. “This essay contest highlights tomorrow’s leaders and gives the community another reason to be proud of its young people.”
Hender Hernandez Caba’s essay was chosen from a group of essay applicants who were asked to describe how growing up in the Utica area has shaped their worldview, what their vision for Utica is and how they can give back to the community to make their vision a reality.
After moving to Utica from the Dominican Republic in 2015, Hender was surprised at the diversity of culture and nonprofit organizations available in the community. When asked what he would like to see Utica become, he said that the right mindset could help fulfill the goals of the city, and funding opportunities for all would make a positive difference in the lives of Utica’s diverse populations.
“There are many local programs and clubs for people to sharpen their skills and get new experiences [in Utica]. I took advantage of those opportunities that were given to me and met wonderful people with different backgrounds. I’ve always wanted to help others in need because of the help I received, so I am often looking for ways to learn more.”
Regarding his internship at the Utica Public Library, Hernandez Caba said that he looks forward to providing his service to the organization, acquiring new skills, and making connections in the community.
A group of community leaders from several local nonprofit organizations reviewed and selected the winning essay.
The Community Foundation, through the Give Back to Utica Fund, is also providing four other paid summer internships to students with the Mohawk Valley Junior Frontiers, Upstate Cerebral Palsy, the Utica Zoo, and the Young Scholars Liberty Partnership Program at Utica University.
Give Back to Utica essay contest and internship winner, Hender Hernandez Caba