The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Contest Winners #241
Write a letter to the author responding to their story
Writing Contest Winners

Story: When I Lose My Virginity Is Up to Me, by Hande Erkan

1st Prize
Not Giving in to Pressure

Dear Hande Erkan,
Your “When I Lose My Virginity Is Up to Me” article is inspiring and grabbed my attention instantly. I am a freshman in college, and I still talk about virginity. I rarely read but this article has sparked my interest to start. I was fascinated with every word.

One thing that stood out to me was when you stated how females get pressured into having sex, but when it happens, we’re looked at as something less than a woman. Guys have tried to pressure me into having sex, but it hasn’t worked. I have stood up for myself.

I believe that when I’m ready, it will happen, not when someone else wants it to happen. Reading articles like this really boosts my confidence. I like knowing that there’s another strong girl not feeding into peer pressure.

Both boys and girls try to break us down to do what they want us to just because they’re doing it, and I see nothing right about that. This article is like a representation of my life, and I thank you for having a voice and courage to stand up for what you believe in.

Sincerely,
Keeley Smith, 15
South Carolina State University
Orangeburg, SC



Story: My First Time: On The Job, by Diamonique Perry

2nd Prize
Calling Out a Bad Boss

In reference to your article, “My First Time: On The Job,” I am sorry to hear about your experiences with your verbally abusive manager. It is horrible to hear that he was given a position of authority, only to take advantage of your labor. That you were still a minor at the time of your employment, and were still being asked to stay past midnight makes me angry.

I have been working in fast food for almost two years. As a manager, I cannot imagine cursing at my team members. I do not know if I could have been as patient as you in your situation. For that, I admire your mature attitude and your strong composure.

I am glad to hear that you have since quit that job. At least you know now that you are able to handle stressful situations in a fast-paced environment. I hope you are able to find a job where the person in authority treats you with respect. Best of luck in the future.

Sincerely,
McKinzie Frederick, 18
St. Peter High School
St. Peter, MN



Story: How I Stopped Cutting, by Anonymous

3rd Prize
Relapsing Happens

I appreciate you sharing your story, “How I Stopped Cutting.” It reminds people they are not alone. It gives others hope that they can stop as well.

Cutting is something I also struggle with. I agree strongly with you that it is a difficult addiction to stop. People need to understand it is an addiction, and it’s not just people overacting. Just like any other addiction, you need to get help to overcome it.

I think it’s important to let others know that relapsing happens. I was clean for about two months, and then I cut again. I thought I was better; I felt disappointed in myself. But I had to remember I was still making progress. Now my relapses are a lot less frequent, and I realize I’m doing much better.

Sincerely,
K.C., 17
Layton High School
Layton, UT

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