Essay contest: My hero is…
Essay contest winners describe the people they most admire—the lead singer of the politically charged band System of a Down, the founder of Microsoft and the first openly gay mayor in the United States.
1st place $50
By Shant Mahererjian, 17, Van Nuys HS
If I were to choose a hero, I would pick Serj Tankian. He is not Superman or the President of the United States. He’s a young man in his early 30s who just happens to be the lead singer of my favorite band, System Of A Down, an all-Armenian band that sings about everything from love to politics.
This wild-haired singer has lived a life that could only have been possible with miracles. As a young man from Beirut, Lebanon, he came to America with his parents. After his father had bad luck with business, Serj started his own computer business. On the side, he got together with a few friends to form a band that eventually became System of A Down, and its eclectic sounds.
Serj, the main songwriter of the band, enjoys writing about anything that seems to interest him as well as anything that people should know about. Serj sings about love, friends, politics, little bunny rabbits and other normal day stuff. Not only do Serj’s words have powerful meanings, but they sound really cool coming out of my stereo too.
Serj’s words show much about his character. He is a strong person who doesn’t take anything from anyone. His strong opinions aren’t just things he has just come up with; he thinks about things for a long time before he takes sides. If someone disagrees with him, he enjoys it, because he likes it when people are smart and have the ability to think freely.
I believe that some of Serj’s inspiration comes from his being a proud Armenian. At first, System of A Down’s fans were mostly Armenian. One of their songs, P.L.U.C.K. (Politically Lying Unholy Cowardly Killers), is dedicated to the Armenian genocide. While some of their songs deal with Armenian topics, they also sing about a lot of other things. Now that the group is more popular, their fans are more diverse.
Serj Tankian has an outrageous hairdo popularly referred to as a ‘fro. It grows wildly in every direction, yet manages to maintain a soft, round feel. This is not the end of his hair fashion statement. It continues on his face, where a goatee grows. Thick, long and covering his chin, this small beard gives him an extra devilish look. Aside from his hair, Serj like to wear anything with a Mongolian collar that shines a lot. Along with a fancy Chinese shirt, he wears loose-fitting pants and usually skater type shoes. Coincidentally, I happen to love this style, so I employ it myself.
When Serj walks out at a concert, you know it’s him and not one of the other members, because of his hair at first. Then you see the massive beard covering his chin. Lines streak all over his face, starting from his eyes. The lights blind you on stage as they bounce off his thick shiny Chinese coat. He is amazed by the people in the crowd. He has his hands at shoulder height, extended towards the audience and his palms facing the sky. All this while he wears his evil grin, for he knows he is about to shock you with a sudden burst of music.
"Free thinkers are dangerous." –Serj Tankian
2nd place $30
By Christopher B. Nersisyan, 18, Van Nuys HS
I know many people might disagree with me and might even call me crazy for who I am about to pick as my hero. But I think a hero is someone who inspires you and encourages you to reach higher and farther than you would have thought possible. A hero is someone who makes the impossible possible. A hero is a person who proves that the underdog can really win. There is only one person that I know of who has done all this. Many people despise him and call him evil. There have even been jokes affiliating him with Satan.
My hero is Bill Gates. He has been able to grow a business and become a world leader from the back of his parents’ garage. Bill Gates has taken the world by storm, and conquered the computer industry. He has become the world leader in technology and has formed his software kingdom from scratch. Even though many people criticize him, it is because they are jealous of him. He is the prime example of the American Dream. This man has taken a three-man circus and tamed it into the richest, most powerful empire in the world. Microsoft controls almost 89 percent of the world’s computers. He has turned his tiny corporation into a world leader. Not only this, but he has been able to destroy all other competition—not an easy task for a dorky teenager.
He has taken other people’s technology and made it better and more available to the public. Many people say this is wrong, but this is how Japan became a world power. By taking American ideas and making them better and selling at a more affordable price. Who is to say that this is wrong? NO ONE!!!
There have been attempts to destroy the hard, lifelong work of this man. They have tried to sue, steal and even break up his kingdom. All their attempts have failed due to the great strength of this young man. He is the true American in that he has made something out of nothing.
Bill Gates has shown me that nothing is impossible in a country like America. You can start as a nobody and become a somebody. You can start in your garage and end up being able to buy every garage made in America. Heck, you can buy your own little country if you want to. He has shown me that computers are the future of the world and that anything can be done with the right amount of technology. For this I thank Bill Gates.
3rd place $20
By Michael Arbizo, 17, OASIS-Long Beach
You’ve got to let gay people be … so that young child and the thousands upon thousands like that child know that there is hope for a better world. There’s hope for a better tomorrow." These are the inspiring words of my hero, Harvey Milk.
Harvey Milk was the first elected openly gay city official of San Francisco. He is my hero because he has inspired so many gay and lesbian people to love themselves and be proud of who they are. Milk also helped many people get over their intolerance of lesbians and gays. I have learned from him that I can do anything I put my mind to, as long as I never lose faith in myself.
Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. One of the results of his being elected to the board of supervisors was that many people, both gay and straight, had to accept the fact that a gay person could live an open and honest life, and succeed. This lesson is still important today. The public should have positive images of gay and lesbian role models in order to de-construct stereotypes of the gay and lesbian community. Serving on such a powerful board, Harvey showed many gay people that they could rise above the stereotypes and reach their life goals. I can just imagine how many people thought he was crazy and that he would be killed. But he was not afraid. He was willing to put his life on the line. He persevered not only to create a place for gays and lesbians to be free and powerful but also to ensure that generations after him would also have the power and strength to change the world.
Milk also helped influence the lesbian and gay community in the late seventies. He showed us that we would never be heard if we were not seen by the whole world. He helped a lot of people understand that if they did not come out of the closet to the people that loved them that they would be trapped in a life of misery. He understood the countless stories of sadness within the gay community and he took it upon himself to voice these stories to let us see what had been happening to us, and encourage us not to let it go on.
Milk also inspires me because of his faith in himself. He ran for office three times and failed all three times. But he did not give up. The fourth time, he was indeed elected.
Harvey was threatened all the time and one day those threats became a reality. He was murdered on November 27, 1978 by two bullets that came from the gun of fellow City Supervisor, Daniel White. Before Harvey was killed he had said, "If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door." To me this statement meant that the day he was murdered should be the day that everyone remembers him and says, "I’m gay and that is OK!"
If Harvey Milk were here today I would tell him all the things I have endured and how I strive to overcome adversity. I would let him know how his strength gives me motivation every day to get out of bed and move forward towards my goal of being successful and happy in a world of obstacles and challenges. He lives on as an inspiration for any youth, whether gay or straight.