Markham student wins global writing contest

Duchess Camilla of Cornwall presented Cassandra Nguyen with a certificate in a screenshot of the ceremony. Singer-songwriter Alexandra Burke read an excerpt of Cassandra’s piece, Actions Speak Louder, earlier in the ceremony.

Markham student Cassandra Nguyen, Junior Winner of the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Contest, the world’s oldest international school writing contest, is being lauded for her “strong and authentic” voice.

“I felt like I already knew you before I even met you,” former member of the Spice Girls and Ambassador of the Royal Commonwealth Society Geri Horner (née Halliwell) told the Grade 8 Ashton Meadows Public School student in an interview that was part of the virtual presentation ceremony.

“Your voice, your character was jumping off the page. It was like, ‘I am demanding to be heard, ‘I need to be heard.’ I could feel the power in your words. They felt so strong and authentic and that is really, really formidable,” Horner said.

The essay contest is an opportunity for young Commonwealth citizens to share their thoughts, ideas and experiences on key global issues and have their hard work and achievement celebrated internationally. The theme of the 2020 Competition was Climate Action and the Commonwealth.

Cassandra’s submission was selected from more than 13,000 entries from 58 countries around the world. “What I really love about writing is how free it is,” she told Horner during the interview. “There’s no right or wrong way to do it and it’s just such a creative way for anybody to be able to express themselves without having to follow a format or use a certain style.”

The virtual presentation ceremony can be viewed at

Photo: Cassandra Nguyen, Junior Winner of the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Contest.

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