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Imani Wallace:
2012 Winner
CCC Amalgamated/Bronx Houses

Imani Wallace

Winning Essay

On Jan 17th, 2011… “Americans from across the nation and the world assembled in the shadows of a broken system to participate in real democracy.”

Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless movement powered by people from different walks of humanity who are fed up and disgusted with the corporate greed that has been destroying our society. Inspired by the Egyptian Tahrir Square uprising, and the Spanish Acampadas, its purpose is to get the voices of overworked people to be heard. Many have tolerated, trusted, and been victimized by the corrupt government for far too long. This movement helps to shed light on the corporate greed of America that has been affecting the way we live and make decisions. Essentially, the government has sold our rights and our futures to the 1% of society that is wealthiest.  Occupy Wall Street is protesting against the economic inequality, high unemployment, greed, corruption, and unjustifiable influence of corporations from the financial services to our government.

My position on this movement is somewhat mixed. Although I admire the vibrant spirit behind this movement, I am concerned by the fact that it may fail and become just another political fad which withers away and does not inflict change. I wholly support its purpose and the national coverage it received. The problem we have today is that the corporate world controls both the government and people.  However, corporations are not people and it is time that real people rightfully take back our government.  We must make it clear to politicians that we are the ones who need protection from businesses.  Greed is only the symptom. The real culprit of our economy is the state and its governing partners that enforce laws, rules, and regulations which subsidize the behavior that allows greed to exist.  In business and Corporate America, greed is satisfied by political power. The state enforces market advantages and monopolies that allow greed to survive and expand.  The leaders who are making these decisions compromise with the lobbyists who work for a variety of corporations and special interest groups. Far too willing to accept favors for financed benefits, these lobbyists go forth with shady endeavors at the cost of the people and future of our economy.

As a future wage earner and future voter, I feel corporate greed will destroy America if we do not put the brakes on the government’s deceptive policies. Being a part of the 99% percent that the Occupy Wall Street supports, I believe that we must expose how the wealthy people in the 1% of this society are writing the rules of the global economy. Ultimately, this is resulting in imposing economic inequality to the majority. For example, virtually every government’s regulatory department is now run by the various corporations. Such corporations as the FDA, USDA, FTC, FCC, NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission), and most other government regulatory are being controlled by politicians and bureaucrats who disregard people while prioritizing the financial needs of influential corporations.  Corporations gained power over government and the people by contributing to campaign finances. This gives them the power to influence and control. Corporations, at present, do whatever they can to maximize their profits. This includes allowing a certain amount of bacteria to be allowed in our foods to poisoning our system by destroying the environment, ignoring the health care needs of the people and inciting war all for short-term and higher profits. An example of this is how the petrol elite have governed Nigeria. The majority of Nigeria’s 160 million people live in poverty while the elite and corporate structure benefits from the state gasoline subsidies.

I feel the Occupy Wall Street Movement has accomplished its goals by waking people up to what’s really going on in corporate America. However, I feel we have a long way to go in inciting change. We are at the tip of the iceberg and with the power of the 99%, we can impose change. Another method we may use to accomplish our goals instead of rallying could be striving for some reputable leaders to sit down with the CEO’s and trying to affect change in the government. Some changes may require money and power. However, the real power resides within the people. Upper-class people don’t want the majority to realize how powerful we all really are as one. Every year, self-proclaimed global leaders allegedly committed to improving the state of the world meet up for the World Economic Forum (WEF) to propagate their own businesses and network amongst the global economic elite. Their principles are based on greed. These people are who control congress today. Unfortunately, history has shown us time and time again that this kind of behavior leads to our drowning in corruption and greed. This cycle has continued throughout time, with at least fifty empires that once existed on Earth. If we don’t institute change and rise up against this corruption, there will be a lot of social unrest, poverty, personal bankruptcy and the destruction of a great nation. We must not let our efforts die and throw away the dream of a nation that was once great and could be great again.


We would like to wish Imani Wallace the best of luck moving on to Syracuse University. Congratulations!

My name is Imani Wallace and I’m 18 years old from the Bronx, New York. Throughout my entire high school career, I’ve been involved in various extracurricular activities. In addition to working an after-school job, I am a member of a community-based organization as well as a Grammy & Oscar-nominated theatrical company. Between these three commitments, I generally keep myself very pre-occupied outside of school. Within my own high school, I’ve been involved with Student Government, GSA, Tutoring, Peer Mediation, the Big Sister-Little Sister Program, and a host of engaging electives such as Journalism, Choir, and Drama.

Despite my busy schedule, I continuously strive to maintain good grades. Currently, my approximate GPA is a 95 and I’m ranked in the top 5% of my graduating class. As an early decision candidate, in December I was notified that I’d gotten accepted into my #1 school—Syracuse University. After receiving a generous financial aid package, I decided that this will definitely be the school of my choosing. When I immediately confirmed enrollment, it became unquestionable that I would be attending this university in the fall of 2012. In addition to Syracuse, I’ve also gotten accepted into St. John’s University, Howard University, Quinnipiac University, American University, Columbia College Chicago, SUNY Courtland, University at Albany, University at Buffalo, Lehman College, CCNY, QCC, BMCC, and Northwestern University.

The S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University is the top communication school in the country and indisputably one of the most competitive schools on the Syracuse campus. My major there will be Television/Film/Radio. Lastly, in order to help pay for my education, Syracuse has rewarded me with a $30,000 merit scholarship, renewable each year. I am proud that I’ve earned this achievement because it contributes greatly to the annual cost of attendance which totals up to $56,000. However, because one of my goals is to graduate college loan-free, I’ve been feverishly applying to scholarships.

My success is accredited to a hard-working passion for persistence, even through my trials and tribulations, my caring teachers who helped me to focus and kept me on the right track, and my friends and family who have provided me with love, support, and a reminder to always keep your eyes on the prize.

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” —Abraham Lincoln

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