RCAS middle school students earns first place in essay contest

The nonprofit National American University (NAU) Foundation and Andy Bartling of Modern Woodmen of America in Rapid City teamed up to provide Rapid City public and private middle school students with an incentive to answer the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

For a chance to win $250, the My Plan for the Future scholarship opportunity challenged students to submit an essay about where they see themselves in 2030 and, most importantly, their plans for achieving their goals.


Siemieniak, who aspires to be a neurologist, impressed independent reviewers by clearly articulating her career goal and the steps she will take in high school and college to achieve her goal. Reviewers also considered Siemieniak’s extensive community service and extracurricular activities.

“Even though [my dream] will require lots of time and effort, it is all worth it to me in the end to be able to help people just like my parents to recover and even be cured of their disorders,” wrote Siemieniak, referencing her parents’ challenges with neurological disorders and her personal motivation for her chosen career path.

In addition to Siemieniak, four other students each received $50 and an Honorable Mention in recognition of their excellent essays:

  • Lucas Degen, Southwest Middle School, 8th grade (Anesthesiologist)
  • Roman Slack, South Middle School, 6th grade (Interior or Industrial Designer)
  • Tracelyn Strand, North Middle School, 6th grade (Teacher and Basketball Coach)
  • Tusweca Taoniye Mendoza, South Middle School, 6th grade (Actor/Activist)