Joseph E. Mohbat Fund Awards Annual Writing Prize to Keitha-Clemon Duhaney
Earlier this month, the fifth annual Joseph E. Mohbat Prize for Writing in Memory of Verdery Knights was awarded to Keitha-Clemon Duhaney, a 2016 graduate of Benjamin Banneker Academy for Community Development in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, and soon to be a freshman at Pennsylvania State University this fall.
The Mohbat Prize for Writing, supported through the Joseph E. Mohbat Fund at Brooklyn Community Foundation, recognizes a talented and motivated Brooklyn public high school senior who has demonstrated a gift of self-expression through the written word.
The Fund was established in 2011 to honor Joseph Mohbat, a well-known journalist, lawyer and long-time Brooklyn resident who died in August 2011, and Verdery Knights, an outstanding student at Benjamin Banneker Academy, whose untimely death occurred in 2008. Mr. Mohbat served as a close friend and mentor to Ms. Knights, who had a passion for poetry and journalism.
Nancy Schuh, Joseph Mohbat’s widow, created the prize to encourage and nurture good writing among Brooklyn public high school seniors about to head off to college. She is pictured above with this year's winner Keitha-Clemon Duhaney.
As part of the Mohbat prize award, Ms. Duhaney, a Crown Heights resident, received a check for $1,500 and a writing internship through the NYC High School Journalism Collaborative. She will also receive ongoing mentoring throughout the process of developing her stories thanks to the Harnisch Journalism Projects at Baruch College. As for the immediate future, she will be working this summer at the Red Hook Youth Court; her long term goal is to become the first female African-American Supreme Court Justice.
Applicants for the Mohbat Prize were asked to submit an essay on “What is Special to Me about Brooklyn?” along with a writing sample from an existing portfolio. Ms. Duhaney's essay, which was written in the form of a poem, received the most votes from the judges on the Selection Committee.
The 2016 runner-up in the Mohbat Prize competition was Nahian Chowdhury, a resident of Crown Heights resident, who is a 2016 graduate of Midwood High School. Chowdhury will be attending Barnard College in New York City. She was recognized with a certificate of her Mohbat Prize achievement at her graduation on June 23, 2016.
The Mohbat Prize Selection Committee, consisting of seven judges with a variety of writing backgrounds, identified the winner and runner-up. The judges were Richard Anderson, noted public relations executive; Marcia Cantarella, published author, educator, former dean at Princeton University and daughter of civil rights activist Whitney Young; Marilyn Gelber, founding president of the Brooklyn Community Foundation and former urban planner; Thomas Giovanni, Chief of Staff, New York City Law Department; Mitchell Pacelle, author and award winning journalist with the Wall Street Journal; Matt Schudel, distinguished and versatile career journalist with the Washington Post noted for his obituaries of interesting and famous persons; Patti Sullivan, long time Hollywood screenwriter now teaching creative writing; and Joanna Underwood, president of Energy Vision and a well-known environmental writer.
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