MLHS Student Wins JFK Profile in Courage

Daud Obama

The Mountain Lakes History Department is proud to announce that Class of 2017 student, Daud Shad, has won the national John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest for High School Students. Shad's winning essay profiles William Moore McCulloch, a Republican U.S. congressman from Ohio who in 1963, risked his reputation, career, and standing in the Republican Party when he agreed to support civil rights legislation introduced by President Kennedy. Daud's winning essay describes how McCulloch played an instrumental role in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, despite fierce opposition from his constituents and many Republican congressmen. Daud was honored at the Kennedy Library on May 8, 2017 along with former president Barack Obama who was awarded the 2017 Profile of Courage Award.

The essay contest is sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and generously supported by John Hancock. The annual Profile in Courage Essay Contest invites high school students from across the nation to write an essay on an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official. The contest is a companion program of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, named for Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, which recounts the stories of eight U.S. Senators who risked their careers, incurring the wrath of constituents or powerful interest groups, to make difficult decisions in the public interest. This year, 2,248 essays were submitted from students in all fifty states and Washington, D.C., and from US citizens in Bulgaria, Canada, China, England, Germany, Japan, and South Korea. This is the largest response from students in the award's history.

In his winning essay, Shad recounts how McCulloch, who represented a rural and conservative district in Ohio, agreed to a request by the Kennedy administration to help lead what promised to be a difficult fight to pass civil rights legislation. Shad writes that though McCulloch "was met with disapproval across Congress," and faced severe criticism for working with the Kennedy administration, "it was his courage in the face of disapproval that was essential to the bill's success." McCulloch was able to convince 60 Republicans to vote in favor of the legislation, paving the way for its successful passage in the House. President Johnson eventually signed the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964.

Daud Shad is a senior at Mountain Lakes High School where he is president of both the Student Government Association and the National Honor Society. A volunteer firefighter, Shad serves as a mentor at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and as an officer for Morris County Operation Smile. He is the son of doctors Saima Shafiq and Rauf Shad, and has an older brother Hamza who attends the University of Chicago. In September, Shad will begin undergraduate work at Yale University where he plans to further develop his writing skills while studying political science and human rights.

Shad's nominating teacher, Jerome Leonardi, will receive a John F. Kennedy Public Service Grant in the amount of $500 to be used for school projects that encourage student leadership and civic engagement.

Click here to read Daud's winning essay.

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