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U of U Student Offers Solution to Conflict in Pakistan–Wins Inaugural Competition

September 8, 2009 — Kelsey Price, an incoming freshman at University of Utah triumphed over 563 other students to win a national civic engagement competition that took place this summer. Price will receive a $1,000 scholarship, which can be used for supplies or any other costs related to her studies.

The Our Voice Our Country Summer Scholarship Competition required participants to identify what they believe to be the most urgent problem facing our nation, and to nominate an expert in the field ready to post an achievable solution, which may later be presented to key leaders in Congress as an outcome.

Price chose to address the ongoing conflict in the FATA region of Pakistan as her topic and wisely picked a former member of the Musharraf and Bhutto governments, Harvard fellow Hassan Abbas, as a problem solver able to articulate a plan of action.

“I was rather surprised when I found out I won,” says contest winner Price. “However, I was even more thrilled when I learned that Dr. Abbas had taken the time to post a solution to my topic. Pakistan really is the key to a victory on our so-called War on Terror, and essential for long-term international security. “

Dr. Abbas describes this competition as “a very creative way to involve students and encourage them to think about critical issues faced by the United States in the domestic as well as international arena.” He goes on to say “I commend Kelsey Price for choosing a comparatively difficult topic and then analyzing all major aspects of the issue in a concise manner.”

Check out Kelsey’s video regarding the competition, which she wrote and directed, on YouTube at:

The Web based competition led over 47,000 people to visit, with students and others flocking to the site from every state. “Student entries into the competition have drawn out unfiltered and thoughtful proposed solutions to national problems, from a diverse range of knowledgeable experts,” says site founder and board president Jon Mann.

The new non-partisan, non profit website provides the opportunity for participants to express their concerns, gives visibility to those ready to provide answers, and to see ‘what flies’ in the court of public opinion. The site went online in February, 2009.

Some of the other entries suggested having a deputy fire chief solve pay and work limitations for female firefighters and asking a medical researcher to help fix problems with national health care.

The full list of student entries and other recommended problems and solutions posted by scholarship competitors and by other members of the general public can be viewed at

The impartial Selection Committee choosing the competition’s winning entry consists of:

  • Mindy Fullilove, award-winning author, health researcher and professor at Columbia University
  • Brian Nickerson, dean at Iona College and public policy specialist
  • Jim Ramstad, fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, republican house Representative from Minnesota 1990-2008

Competition organizers say Our Voice Our Country was developed with input and guidance from Walter Cronkite, Ruby Dee, Joanne Woodward, Yolanda King, Jane Alexander, judges, professors, lawyers, students, senior citizens, soldiers, current and retired politicians, leaders of national non-partisan organizations and dozens of blue and white collar workers of all political parties, from across the country.