MPS: Essay confronting depression, anxiety earns MPS student 2nd prize in national contest

Media contact: Tony Tagliavia, Media Manager | (414) 475-8675 | [email protected]

MLB, Scholastic “Breaking Barriers” contest encourages youth to follow the lead of Jackie Robinson

MILWAUKEE (April 22, 2015) – She calls it the barrier that controlled her youth.

Brianna Guzman, an 8th-grade student at Milwaukee Public Schools’ James Fennimore Cooper School, wrote about taking on depression and anxiety in an essay that won her a national second-prize finish in Major League Baseball and Scholastic’s Breaking Barriers Essay Contest.

The contest encourages students to use the values of Jackie Robinson to “face their own barriers.”

“I don’t know how it started,” Brianna wrote, “but it slowly overcame my whole life.”

Ultimately, she said, she decided to “destroy” the barrier that controlled her youth.

To do so, she sought help from family and a therapist. Her friends drew butterflies and wrote their names on Guzman’s wrist to let her know she wasn’t alone.

“My family, my therapist, my friends, the medicine and me all used teamwork to lift me up. Jackie had his teammates and his coach to overcome that color barrier,” the 8th grader wrote. “If he didn’t have his team to lift him up when he was down, maybe he would have failed. If I didn’t have my team, maybe I would have just become another statistic. Teamwork goes a long way.”

As one of only four second-prize winners in the nation, she receives a laptop computer. Brianna’s win means Cooper will receive 30 copies of the book “Promises to Keep,” by Sharon Robinson and 30 “Breaking Barriers” t-shirts.

MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver, Cooper Principal Jennifer Doucette, Brianna’s teacher Tracy Gavronski and the entire MPS family all congratulate Brianna on her award-winning essay as well as her courage to both break down her barrier and to speak about it so others might be helped by her story.