June 25, 2021

Newark, N.J. – The New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) and New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) are excited to announce the winners of the 2021 essay contest titled Who Belongs in the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

In the middle school category, the committee chose Hanna Juma, an eighth grader at Glassboro Intermediate School in Glassboro for her essay on Mark Chitkwesit Mexhaniat “Quiet Hawk” Gould, the elected chief of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation. Naima Bari, a ninth grader at Diana C. Lobosco STEM Academy in Passaic, was selected in the high school category for her essay on Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and microbiologist Selman Abraham Waksman.

The essay contest is open to all New Jersey students from fourth to 12th grades and divided into two age categories: Intermediate (grades four through eight) and High School (grades nine through 12). Applicants need to write an essay of no more than 500 words describing who should be inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. The Academy will then consider the nominees for induction into the 2022 class.

“As educators, we are proud of every student who participated in this essay contest,” said NJEA President Marie Blistan. “We learn a lot from reading their essays. The quality of their work and the creativity of their submissions demonstrate the great things happening in our public schools.”

“We are thrilled to see the next generation of leaders voice their opinions on who should be in the New Jersey Hall of Fame,” said Chairman of the NJHOF Jon F. Hanson. “This year’s nominations are a wonderful example of the amazing talent and heroes that can be found within our great state.”

“We created the Hall of Fame to inspire the younger generation on the many heroes and role models within our state,” said Steve Edwards, president of the NJHOF. “We hope to be able to continue to provide that inspiration to our future leaders and all residents.”

Mark “Quiet Hawk” Gould, of Bridgeton, has served in leadership in the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation for more than four decades, including playing a major role in the public reorganization of the tribe in the 1970s. He has been an active voice for the rights of indigenous people. The tribe has been in New Jersey, in Cumberland and Salem Counties, and Delaware for more than 10,000 years.

Known as “The Father of Antibiotics”, Selman Abraham Waksman was born in the Ukrainian town of Nova Priluka before immigrating to a small farm on the outskirts of Metuchen at the age of 22. He enrolled in Rutgers College, now Rutgers University, on a state scholarship in 1911 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture. He is credited with discovering and isolating more than two dozen new antibiotics, including streptomycin, actinomycin and neomycin.

The essay winners will be recognized at the 13th annual New Jersey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in October, which will be televised on My9NJ.

The contest is part of a series of initiatives by the NJHOF to inspire and encourage students in New Jersey. The organization also runs the Areté Scholarship Fund, which awards two annual $5,000 scholarships to one female and one male high school senior for use towards college and trade school education.

ABOUT THE NJHOF: Because everyone needs a hero, the New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) honors citizens who have made invaluable contributions to society, the State of New Jersey and the world beyond. Since 2008, the NJHOF has hosted 12 ceremonies for more than 180 notable individuals and groups in recognition of their induction into the Hall of Fame. The NJHOF endeavors to present school children with significant and impactful role models to show that they can, and should, strive for excellence. The NJHOF is thankful for the support of its many sponsors, without which none of our endeavors would be possible. For more information, go to www.njhalloffame.org.

CONTACT: Natasha Alagarasan, natasha@princetonsc.com, (609) 789-7818