The Future is Bright: Two Winners Selected for High School Student Essay Contest on Genocide Prevention

Toronto,  - The Zoryan Institute and the editors of Genocide 
Studies International (GSI) have selected two winners of its its inaugural High 
School Student Essay Contest focused on the prevention of genocide. The first 
place was awarded to a Grade 10 student of Arlington High School, Soline Fisher, 
and the second place was awarded to Grade 11 student, Zepure Merdinian of 
Belmont High School. 

The essay contest, which provided an opportunity for students to make their 
voices heard and contribute to the ongoing work of preventing genocide, had 3 
prompts for students to address and develop their own original arguments:

1) How will you lead your generation in preventing genocide?
2) What obligation does the global community have to prevent genocide, and what 
form(s) should these prevention efforts take?
3) How should your nation respond to genocide that takes place in another nation?

The essay contest was open to high school level students worldwide, and while we 
received many quality submissions, the two winning essays were selected for 
their academic rigour, personal narrative, and persuasive argument addressing 
their selected prompt.

Soline’s essay explored the contemporary challenges faced by the global 
community in tackling genocide, and proposed three concrete steps to help 
prevent genocide and future atrocities.  Zepure’s essay titled, “Quality 
Genocide Education in American Schools: An Armenian Lens for Hope” took on a 
personal approach, exploring how her own experiences with genocide and genocide 
education will help her to lead her generation in preventing genocide.

Both submissions left the editors of Genocide Studies International and the 
Zoryan Institute hopeful for the future generations who will help lead the way 
in promoting human rights, equity, tolerance, peace and reconciliation. 
Co-editor of GSI, Dr. Jennifer Rich, commented:
“It was a privilege to read all of the outstanding contributions to this first 
student essay contest! The pieces submitted by Soline and Zepure are thoughtful, 
engaging, well-crafted – and very different from one another. When taken on 
their own, they are excellent; when taken together, they point to a brighter 

When asked to comment on the significance of this contest, Soline spoke to the 
importance of genocide prevention for today's youth:
“It is so important that young people be made aware of pressing international 
developments and grasp the complexity of the issues involved so as to be able to 
take an informed position on those issues. While some scholars are bent on 
reassuring us that the world we live in is less violent than at any time in the 
past, this argument to me underestimates the latent potential for violence on a 
large scale enabled by extremist politics and advanced technology. Therefore, we 
must remain vigilant for the prospects of the emergence of new forms of 
genocide. I hope that my essay makes some small contribution to this 

In her comments, second place winner, Zepure, highlighted on the importance of 
genocide education:  
“I hope my essay shows the extent to which genocide education varies in quality, 
and inspires educators worldwide to improve their teaching approaches when it 
comes to heavy topics such as genocide." 

As first place winner, Soline will receive a cash prize of $250 USD and both 
Soline and Zepure will have their essays published in issue 15.2 of Genocide 
Studies International. Soline and Zepure were both presented certificates from 
the Zoryan Institute from their respective schools. 

The 2024 High School Student Essay Contest is now open for submissions! As we 
embark on this new academic school year, we encourage high schools, educators 
and teachers around the world to share this opportunity with their students and 
peers, and even incorporate it into their 2023-2024 curriculum. The deadline to 
submit  is in June 2024. 


Sophie Waldron

Outreach Assistant
International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies A Division of the 
Zoryan Institute
255 Duncan Mill Rd., Suite 310 Toronto, ON, Canada M3B 3H9
Tel: 416-250-9807
E-mail: [email protected]