Senior Awarded Princeton Prize in Race Relations

Senior Sania walks through the lines of girls seated on the floor of Clements Lecture Hall, asking questions and smiling at the lively discussion taking place amongst the dozens of girls in attendance. As forum leader for Race Relations, Sania encourages conversation about controversial topics in order to “open up people to the way others live outside of what we know.”
This March, Sania was rewarded for her work with Race Relations, winning  the Princeton Prize in Race Relations. The prize  granted her a $1,000 scholarship to the university of her choice. On May 1, Sania gave a speech at a Dallas ceremony about her experiences and presented the runners-up with their certificates.
The Princeton Prize is awarded annually to students from 23 regions across the country that  are “actively involved in a volunteer activity in the last 12 months that has had a significant, positive impact on race relations — broadly defined — in his or her school or community,” according to its website. The Prize recognizes and encourages high school students who “have demonstrated a commitment to advancing the cause of positive race relations.”
Sania underwent a rigorous application process before winning the award. “I submitted my application towards the end of January. They were looking for someone from each of the big cities – Dallas, NYC, Boston, Baltimore, etc. – who showed some sort of significant contribution to racial harmony and understanding.”  The application consisted of four essay questions in which Sania discussed why Race Relations was important to her and explained her involvement in the program at Hockaday.
“Hockaday is so diverse and there are so many different countries represented, in the boarding department and among the day students. It’s really a microcosm of all the different races and religions. In Race Relations forums, we raise questions, and even if we don’t convince people of a different point of view, we at least open up their minds to seeing a different perspective. If we affect even one person, then I think we’ve done a good job,” says Sania.
Since Sania joined Race Relations as a forum leader at the beginning of her junior year, the club has addressed issues such as financial aid and the relationship between money and race, affirmative action, discrimination in television, and meritocracy. Sania emphasizes the importance of not “trying to make people comfortable, or sugar coat anything,” but instead talk about life’s realities and open up Hockaday girls to the rest of the world.
Sania’s teachers and peers recognize her dedication to improving Race Relations. “Sania works diligently and effortlessly to encourage racial understanding. She always is a first to make sure all sides are being presented in discussion,” says senior Carol, a fellow Race Relations forum leader.
Margaret Morse, Upper School Guidance Counselor and faculty sponsor of Race Relations, adds, “What I am most impressed with is Sania’s ability to invite conversation and create a safe place for people to share and listen.  She is a leader by example in this capacity, in that she is self-reflective, open to new ideas, and genuine, which affords her the ability to challenge others to think without putting them on the defense because others see her openness to new ideas and perspectives.”