This year we received over 500 submissions for our annual essay contest. The contest is held each year in honour of  MCpl. Mark R. Isfeld, and attracts participants from all across Canada.

Congratulations to Rebecca Balcerzak on her first place essay, “The True Teachers”. Read Rebecca’s essay below, along with those from our second, third and honourable mention submissions. A short biographical piece and photo has also been provided from those winners who provided them.

Thank you to all participants for your submissions and we hope eligible students will apply again next year!

For more information about Mark and his family visit the Mark Isfeld Memorial page:


First Place
Rebecca Balcerzak, “The True Teachers

Rebecca has just graduated from Waterloo Collegiate Institute and has been accepted into Carleton University where she will be studying political science. She says it has been her privilege to have amazing peacemakers as friends, mentors, and teachers who, without a doubt, have inspired her to pursue politics in post-secondary education. In high school she was involved in the arts as a member of the Arts Council in which she had the opportunity to work alongside phenomenal leaders who tirelessly worked to enrich our school. She has also volunteered as a soccer mentor to autistic children, at the suggestion of her soccer coach who encouraged her team to give back to the community by sharing the sport they love.

After researching MCpl. Mark Isfeld, I know that he shared many of the same qualities that made him an exemplary peacemaker with some of my friends, mentors, and teachers. I could not be the person who I am today without these extraordinary peacemakers in my life. They have shaped my character and have inspired me to work harder and to take the tough road. I answered the essay’s question by sharing my experience of how they have molded me into a better individual. I believe that their boundless optimism, strength, and above all hope that one day peace will prevail – even in the most trying of circumstances – reflects MCpl. Mark Isfeld’s own belief that even in the midst of hate and war, people can still be decent, kind, and good. “

Second Place
Herie Sun, “Finding Hope in Peace

Herie is sixteen years old and has just graduated from Waterloo Collegiate Institute in Waterloo, Ontario. He will be attending McGill University in the fall of 2012 to study in the biological, biomedical and life sciences program. Herie hopes to one day become a doctor in the field of paediatrics, doing work in hospitals such as SickKids in Toronto, as well as in conflict-torn regions of the world with organizations such as Doctors without Borders. He enjoys being active in his community, and some of his favourite things in life include writing, playing the piano, long-distance running, public speaking and playing with his hyperactive five-year-old sister

Third Place
Jennifer Liu, “Making the World Better, One Case at a Time

Born in Vancouver and raised in Richmond, British Columbia, seventeen-year-old Jennifer Liu is a recent graduate of A.R. MacNeill Secondary School and is very active in her community. She spends most of her time helping organize and volunteering at community gatherings, youth conferences, and school events. Her involvement and leadership earned her a nomination for the Ethel Tibbits Women of Distinction Award in the Youth category this past year. Growing up with great exposure to the fine arts has led to her interest and appreciation in all forms of it, as well as a job as a piano teacher for beginners at the Richmond Music School. In September 2012, Jennifer will begin studies at Simon Fraser University in the area of Communication

“Thank you so much for awarding me third place in the 2011/2012 Mark R. Isfeld Essay Contest. The topic was general enough for me to take it and go in whichever direction I wished to, so it was quite enjoyable writing and researching ideas for this essay. It really means a lot to me to be able to share the story of someone who has tried so hard to make such an impact in my local and the international community.”

Honourable Mention
Hou Miu (Phoebe) Ng, “Untitled


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