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Fresh Mdws. essayist wins U.N. prize

"I am just glad I could do something to help those suffering from infectious diseases," said Jiyoon Jenny Han, 17, as Deputy Borough President Karen Koslowitz congratulated her for winning the United Nations Association's National High School Essay Contest.

Han, a Stuyvesant high school junior, precollege student at the Manhattan School of Music and Fresh Meadows resident, is one of hundreds of high school students across the country who entered the UNA-USA contest on what the United States can do to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases.

"The first thing we need to do is destroy the barriers we place around ourselves when we interact with those who have diseases like HIV/AIDS," Han said. "Those barriers simply stop us from doing more than coddling the sick."

Han's five-part proposal focuses on taking multilateral action by fostering an atmosphere of global community to offset human ignorance and indifference, mobilizing resources efficiently, working for educational reform and encouraging prevention over treatment.

"I am surprised I won, but it feels great because I am very passionate about this cause," Han said.

Koslowitz and state Assemblywoman Ellen Young (D-Flushing) each awarded Han an honorable citation at Queens Borough Hall.

Han said she plans to spend the $2,000 she received from the UNA-USA to support Little Maestro, a nonprofit she founded in September that performs benefit concerts for various humanitarian causes each year.

"With Little Maestro, I bring together musicians who also want to use their talent to help those who are suffering," said Han.

Han will be holding a benefit concert Oct. 5 at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall supporting the United Nations' efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and malaria.

Although Han is unsure of what college she wants to attend, she looks forward to a career in either finance or humanitarian aid.

"I will always want to help people, and I hope my essay inspires others to do the same," she said.

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