Lindy Bustabad was surprised to receive an unexpected visit from happy veterans inside Clinton High School’s media center. With the attention placed on her, she wondered why she was called out of class by Principal Dr. Steven Miller.
For her words of American patriotism, Lindy became the local Voice of Democracy audio-essay winner, a contest sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The title of her work is “My Vision for America.” She received first place.
“Mom told me to dress up and I didn’t know what I was here for,” Lindy said with a smile. “Dr. Miller called me out of class and I thought I was in trouble.”
During the recognition, she was also joined by proud parents, school officials and members of Clinton’s VFW Post 7547.
“I was definitely surprised and excited I won,” Lindy said afterwards. “I am humbled and grateful to be recognized by the Veterans of Foreign War with this award.”
She is the daughter of Christy and Pete Bustabad and has one sister, Reagan. Her father had a big impact on how she views the United States.
“My husband really has instilled the love of our country and to not take it for granted in both of our daughters,” Christy said.
Her maternal grandparents are Linda and Doug Wilson of Clinton. Lindy’s paternal grandparents, Josefina and Carlos Bustabad, came to America from Cuba and were forced to leave because of communism. In her essay, Bustabad wrote about her grandparents’ pride in being Americans and a love they developed for the country.
“This is the mindset that immigrants as well as citizens of America should have today,” she said. “My father has always taught us living in the U.S. is a privilege we have due to the sacrifice of many, and we should never take that for granted. I am passionate about my vision for America because its future is in our hands, and we must take pride in our country in order to impact our future for the better.”
Her father, Pete, shares the same feelings.
“We’re all Americans once we get here and we should strive to,” he said in regards to being patriotic. “We’re the greatest country on earth. Why wouldn’t you want to be an American when you’re here. My dad taught me to love this country more than anything, even though he was from another country. I tried to teach her the same thing – to love this country more than anything because there’s no place else to go.”
Lindy was humbled and grateful to be recognized in the competition, which awards more than $2 million in scholarships to high school students. If Lindy wins at the VFW district level, next will be the state and national levels. The national first place winner will receive a $30,000 scholarship. Other scholarships are from $1,000 to $16,000 and the top participant from each state VFW department will earn a minimum scholarship of $1,000 and trip to Washington, D.C., with expenses paid.
VFW member Charles Curtis said the award is given to students throughout Sampson County. He said participants were also awarded for how they delivered their essay. Curtis appreciated the topic of her essay.
“You’ll be surprise at the number of immigrants we have right here in Sampson County and how patriotic they really are,” Curtis said.
Curtis added that a lot of essays were submitted by immigrant families as well.
“It just put joy in my heart to see it because they’re our future,” he said.
The 16-year-old is a junior at CHS and learned about the contest after College Advisor Toni Blount visited her Advanced Placement U.S. History Class.
“My patriotic teacher Mrs. Jennifer Dirks encouraged me to write the essay,” Lindy said. “Being that 2016 is an election year, I took part in the competition because I am passionate about America and its future.”
Dr. Stuart Blount, superintendent of Clinton City Schools, said Clinton City Schools is extremely fortunate to have talented students in all of its schools.
“The Veterans of Foreign Wars Voice of Democracy Essay competition is an opportunity for students to share their original thoughts and ideas on a larger platform than just Clinton, North Carolina,” Blount said. “It provides volumes to their voice, by allowing many candidates to express their democratic ideas freely. We are honored for Miss. Lindy Bustabad, from Clinton High School to be selected as this year’s winner.”
Miller showed appreciation for the work of the CHS student and the service of local VFW members. He also gave accolades to her parents.
“Lindy is a superb young lady,” Miller said. “They’ve done a great job instilling a sense of democracy and opportunity in her. I’m also proud of the family and the affiliation we have with local VFW post.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.