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story.lead_photo.caption Photo submitted Ruby Vega, seventh-grade student at Siloam Springs Middle School, was one of five students to win The Walmart Museum's national essay contest celebrating Sam Walton's 100th Birthday. She is pictured in front of Walton's truck in the museum with her prize, a pair of special Spark Edition Beats by Dre' headphones.

Ruby Vega, a seventh-grade student at Siloam Springs Middle School, was recently named one of five national winners of The Walmart Museum's essay contest celebrating Sam Walton's 100th Birthday.

Vega and the other winners, who were not ranked, were recognized during the Sam Walton Centennial Celebration at the Bentonville Square on March 29. Each winner received a pair of special Spark Edition Beats by Dre' headphones as part of their prize.

The following essay by Ruby Vega, a seventh-grade student at Siloam Springs Middle School, was one of five winners of The Walmart Museum’s national essay contest celebrating what would have been Sam Walton’s 100th birthday on March 29.

Happy 100th Birthday, Sam Walton! If I would have had the opportunity to meet Mr. Sam in person, I would have told him how the example he set has impacted me personally and how his legacy is still alive today.

When Mr. Sam was young, he was a good student. He was kind to others, paid attention in class, and earned good grades. He was a nice person and got along well with others because he was respectful and honest to everyone. On his football team, Mr. Sam was known as a “most versatile boy.” Sam was active in Boy Scouts and became an Eagle Scout. Mr. Sam was a unique individual and no one in his school will ever forget him. Like Sam Walton, I always try to be respectful, kind, and helpful to my classmates and teachers. For example, I won a character award for kindness. In class, I pass out the binders and pass out papers. I also do my own work without interrupting others. I always try to do more than the teachers ask me to do.

Even as a young person, Mr. Sam was a great student and leader. Like Mr. Sam, I believe in always doing my best and not being afraid to try new things. Sam Walton’s innovative ideas and entrepreneurship led him to become a world famous businessman. Even though he became one of the richest men in history, Sam Walton has always been a person who cared about others more than himself. Like Sam Walton, I care about helping others. I also help my parents when they need help with something and I am always nice and respectful to them.

As an adult, Mr. Sam’s work ethic and innovative ideas paved the way for the Walmart Empire. Sam Walton always believed in giving to charities that help people, especially kids in need and children with severe illnesses. Even though Mr. Sam died of cancer, his legacy lives on. Charities sponsored by the Walton Family continue to make a difference in the lives of countless people. I hope to follow in Sam Walton’s footsteps one day to help make a difference in the lives of everyone around me.

Sam Walton is unforgettable. He was a common man who did uncommon things. In his life, he always did great things that made him successful. He will always be remembered as a retail giant who cared about people and whose example taught me what it truly means to be successful. I will never forget about Sam Walton or the great things he has done. His memory makes me happy!

Walton, who was born on March 29, 1918 in Kingfisher, Okla., was the founder of Walmart and Sam's Club. He died on April 5, 1992.

The Walmart Museum opened the essay contest to sixth- and seventh-grade students across the country, and prompted them to write a 500 word essay imagining what they would write on Sam's 100th birthday card, and explaining how his legacy impacts them today, according to a post on The Walmart Museum Facebook page.

"Ruby Vega is a shining example of the extraordinary young people we have today," said Alan Dranow, senior director of the Walmart Museum. "Besides following the prompt and having correct grammar usage, her essay caught our eye by speaking of how great Sam Walton's character was and how she tries to follow that. Vega wrote, 'I hope to follow in Sam Walton's footsteps one day to help make a difference in the lives of everyone around me.' She honors the impact Sam Walton made and truly exemplifies how his legacy lives on."

Marlene Schwerin, who teaches English to speakers of other languages at the Siloam Springs Middle School, found out about the contest from instructional facilitator Sandra Wilt and gave her students the option to enter the contest.

Vega was the only student to complete the extra assignment. When Schwerin saw the amount of work Vega was putting into the project, she allowed her to substitute the essay for another required research project.

"She really pushed herself, she probably revised her essay five or six times that I saw making it better and better." Schwerin said. "I think that is part of the reason she won. She wasn't just happy with the first draft or the second draft, she continued to keep polishing the work until it was the best that she could give."

Vega said she connected with Walton's story because of his passion for helping people. She explained that she also enjoys helping at school and at home. Vega said she learned to help others by following her family's example.

"She has a very kind heart," Schwerin said.

Ruby's father Jose Vega, who accompanied her to the award ceremony along with Schwerin, said he was surprised and excited to learn his daughter had won the contest.

"As a parent, it felt good to see my daughter win something on her own," he said.

Schwerin said she felt Vega's essay was effective because of the research she put into it as well as her sincerity.

"It was good writing," Schwerin said. "She did a lot of research so she had a lot of good evidence to go with the ideas she was expressing in her essay, but also I felt like it was very sweet, and you know, the innocence of youth, the way she talked about the way Sam Walton's legacy made her happy."

"I feel like my life has changed since I won those Beats, since I won the contest," Vega said. "I feel like it is getting better and better."

Vega has received a lot of recognition from her award, Schwerin said. She was featured on the middle school website and won the school's student of the month award, not only because of the essay contest but also because she is is a good role model to her classmates, Schwerin said.

"(Vega won student of the month) because of her desire to help other people, like she wrote about in her essay, and just her good behavior, she's a good student, all those qualities are things we look for in our student of the month," she said.

Schwerin said she is very proud of Vega's accomplishment.

"She is a great student, I look for great things in her future," she said.

General News on 04/15/2018

Print Headline: Vega wins Walton Centennial essay contest

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