Humans of Sacred Heart- Grace Passannante '16

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What inspired you to apply for the PLATO National Essay contest? How did you hear about it? 
“I have really enjoyed my senior seminar class this year with Doc Mott and have grown to like philosophical writing. In February, Doc Mott gave us the option of either answering one of his prompts for a grade or answering the PLATO National Essay Contest prompt. The contest offered a $150 prize and the opportunity to publish one’s work in their magazine, Questions, so I decided to give it a shot – why not? I read the PLATO essay prompt, answered it in roughly 5 pages, wrote a one page autobiography about myself and my highschool career, and emailed it to one of the judges.  Honestly, I was not expecting any recognition whatsoever.” 
What is your essay about? What interests you about your topic and why?
“My essay is about how due to the fact that all beings experience suffering and have the instinctive desire to survive, the moral status of conscious non-human animals is equal to that of humans. My overarching argument is that if you do not need to kill an animal in order to survive, do not kill it. However, if an animal is threatening you or your family’s ability to survive, than you have a right to kill it, according to your jus naturale (Hobbes), and all conscious beings’ natural desire to avoid suffering and to survive. I initially became interested in the topic of animal rights through my research with gorillas at the Bronx Zoo. This past summer, I spent time at the Bronx Zoo in New York, observing how zoo visitors affect the stereotypies (nervous ticks) in captive gorillas. I think that it is important to respect all life because we are all created in the image and likeness of God. Although it is sometimes necessary to end an animal’s life for our own survival, I think that in God’s eyes, we are all meant to live on the earth in peace, together.”
How did you find out that you had won second place in this national contest? How did you react?
“I found out that I had won through my email. I am not going to lie, I almost started crying when I read the email because I was so shocked, yet happy that my work was being recognized on a national level.”
What is your advice for students interested in submitting to national writing contests?
“I advise all students who are interested in submitting to national contests to only submit something that they are truly interested in. If you start writing an essay on something that does not even interest you, it will be very difficult to write the essay and it will most likely not come across as your best work. Try to find a topic that interests you (or find something interesting about the topic being offered), and jump right in. Give your best effort and put everything you have into the work. It feels so much better to submit something knowing that no matter what the end result is, you tried your best.”
What is an interesting fact about you that no one knows? 
“A fun fact about me that not a lot of people know is that I am obsessed with food Instagram accounts and probably follow more food accounts than actual people. This obsession has traveled into my own kitchen and I have gotten really into baking.”
The King Street Chronicle thanks senior and PLATO National Essay second place recipient Grace Passannante ’16 for her contributions to “Humans of Sacred Heart.”
Photo by Alexandra Dimitri, Managing Editor
-Compiled by Alexandra Dimitri, Managing Editor and Alana Galloway, Content Editor