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Cadet Emily Trast Selected as Maricopa VFW Essay Winner

 Cadet Trast
Cadet Trast
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(Submitted by Lt. Col. Allen Kirksey – MHS JROTC Senior Instructor) 

 (Maricopa) On 16 January, Charles Kemp and Mike Kemery of the Maricopa Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post presented the VFW Voice of Democracy (VOD) Essay Award and $100 prize to Cadet Emily Trast, a first year Air Force JROTC cadet at Maricopa High School in front of her parents, Kati and Peter Trast, counselor, Rebecca Collins, and fellow cadets. Cadet Trast a freshman and first year cadet originally from Barstow, CA.  She loves to write and is considering a career in both creative writing and as a playwright.  She adores and would love to explore a career in theater. She also loves drawing, writing, painting, and singing.  Cadet Trast is also considering studying Political Science with a possible goal of working for the State Department and becoming an Ambassador.  Her other hobbies include hiking, acting (television and stage), and musicals.  Her high school goal is to maintain a 3.75 GPA.  Upon her high school graduation, she would like to join the US Navy, or attend a Performing Arts School.

The essay contests for 9th – 12th grade High School Students began in 1946.  America had just concluded a World War a year before and patriotism was high and the economy was starting to recover.  Students were considered the future, and national scholarship program was created to assist them. As it turned out, it was easy to create this scholarship program.  The VOD Essay Contest has been going strong for 72 years the program keeps on expanding.  Today, a 1st Place winner is awarded a $30,000-dollar scholarship, 2nd Place winner receives a $16,000 scholarship, and a 3rd Place winner receives on of $10,000.

The Maricopa VFW Post has been presenting the award since September 2005.  Over that time, the program has evolved to institute the many different programs, but within the first few years, there were enough VFW members and volunteers to begin to incorporate different schools with the National Programs such as VOD.  It was really after the Maricopa VFW secured a permanent building in 2009 that things settled down and the programs were being pushed.  MHS AFJROTC cadets have been participated since 2013.

Once an essay is written, it is submitted to the local VFW Post. Once a winner has been selected it automatically is submitted to the VFW District.  If the essay is chosen at that level then it is submitted to the State Level, then that state winner is submitted to the National Level.

Mike Kemery of the Maricopa VFW said, “personally, I enjoy seeing young people succeed, whether it be Cadet of the Year, VOD Winner, or being nominated to a service academy. They are the future!”  The VFW continues to believe that our youth are our future.


Established in 1947, our Voice of Democracy audio-essay program provides high school students with the unique opportunity to express themselves in regards to a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay. Each year, nearly 40,000 9-12 grade students from across the country enter to win their share of $2.1 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the program. The 2017-18 theme is: American History: Our Hope for the Future


For more information about the Maricopa Unified School District please call 520.568.5100 or visit the District’s website at

44150 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy | Maricopa, AZ 85138 | (520) 568-5100

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