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Inglemoor High School student wins essay contest

Ashley Jensen at the Washington State PTA conference. - Contributed photo
Ashley Jensen at the Washington State PTA conference.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Inglemoor High School student Ashley Jensen, 15, has been named the statewide winner for the Washington State PTA Men’s Essay Contest.

Jensen, a sophomore, wrote an essay recounting memories on how her grandfather served, and continues to serve, as an influential male figure in her life. This past weekend, she had the opportunity to read her essay to nearly 1,000 people at the Washington State PTA convention.

Her essay will soon be featured on Washington State PTA website.

Here is Jensen's essay:

My awesome grandpa

When my parents called my sister and I upstairs for a “family meeting”, my heart started to pound. So many thoughts were racing around in my head as I sat down and saw the looks of fear and grief in my parent’s eyes. Nothing could have prepared me for the words they were about to say. “Grandpa Mike has passed away.” What I just heard couldn’t be true, my grandpa was healthy and happy, how could he just be gone? The realization of what my parents had just told me hit me not too soon after. A flood of emotions overcame me all at once. I just couldn’t believe one of the most influential men in my life was gone.

My Grandpa Mike passed away on August 16, 2011. Although it is almost 2½ years later I still miss him constantly. He was truly an influential person in my life and still is today. My grandpa was always engaged in my life. From my youngest memories of playing games with him to sharing big milestones with him, he was always there for me and would always tell me how proud he was of me. He inspired me to believe that I could do anything I wanted. He made me feel as if I could achieve anything. My grandpa would always tell me and try to get me to try new things, ranging from food, to reading new books to trying new activities. And he would always support what I wanted to do. He would always attend my dance recitals or the musical productions I was in. He loved to see me grow and learn throughout my life. I always felt super close with him.

Whenever I would see him, he would always greet me with a huge smile on his face and say, “How’s it going kid?” We even had a special handshake he and I would always do when we got together. He always had a great big smile on his face and was always so upbeat and positive. He put me in a good mood whenever I was around him.

Although my grandpa isn’t physically here with us today, he continues to influence me personally. Grandpa Mike was always a very giving person. He would donate to a charity for homeless men regularly and he loved to give back. Today he has given my family the opportunity to keep giving back to our community. Once a year I am able to choose a charity to give money to in his name. This year I was able to give $500 to an acting charity for teenagers. He has given me opportunities to give back in ways I didn’t know were possible. This year I was lucky enough to be able to serve on the Seattle Foundation’s Youth Grant-making Board. The board is given $20,000 and has meetings from October through May and by the last meeting we decide on a couple charities that money will go to. It has been an amazing experience for me so far to really be able to learn more in depth about the issues going on in my community and to see how those issues can be helped. I wouldn’t have been able to have this opportunity if it wasn’t for my Grandpa. It is amazing that I can give back to my community while honoring my grandpa. He has taught me so much throughout my life and I continue to learn more, because of him, even after he has passed. I love and miss my grandpa dearly and wish he could be here to see all that I have accomplished and all that I will accomplish. He has influenced me to become the person I am today and continues to influence me every day of my life.

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