2016 ERC Scholarship Essay Program $1,000 Recipient
Caroline Metsker, Woodinville, Seattle Pacific University

“The American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become.” Currently, these words by President Ronald Reagan almost seem like a vanished principle of the past. In a country that is in trillions of dollars of debt and currently supports millions of people on welfare benefits, it is beginning to seem like a hopeless cause in the eyes of young Americans like myself. As a conservative college student, I am becoming increasingly aware of the constant struggle through which our country is going. The unreasonably high tuition rates and progressively limited job market begins to feel like an unbearable weight on the shoulders of American milennials. In 2016, is there still opportunity for people to achieve success through firm determination, dedication, and initiative?

With the dawning of the presidential race, I began to feel hopeful for the first time in years. There was a candidate that I saw truly embodied Reagan’s belief in the American dream and had faith in the bright future of hard-working young people like myself. This candidate, who spoke of the potential for a new great American century, was Senator Marco Rubio. As the son of Cuban immigrant parents, Senator Rubio understood the 17th century Puritan leader John Winthrop’s vision of our country as a rare “shining city upon a hill.” He personally grew up witnessing the American dream in action through the hard work of his parents. Because of this, he had great empathy for Americans who devote their lives to faithfully laboring in order to increase the prosperity of themselves and their families. His privilege in directly experiencing the beauty of American dream moved him to show our tired, disheartened country that hope in our future is not lost.

The reason that I personally connected with Senator Rubio’s compelling message was because he showed faith in young people of our nation. Instead of treating us like overgrown children through attempting to bribe us with federally-funded education, Rubio instead expressed his desire to reform the outdated educational system and provide resources that allow Americans affordable methods to pay off existing student debt. Through outlining clear solutions, he showed his faith in the initiative of our generation rather than carelessly suggesting greater government involvement in our lives. He believed in an optimistic future for the millennial generation when so many people disregard us as irresponsible, selfish, and incapable.

Though Senator Rubio has now left the presidential race, I still greatly admire his unwavering belief in the restoration of the American dream. The love for his country, combined with his brilliant solutions to growing problems, will always live as an outstanding example of an enduring faith in our “shining city on a hill.”