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  • Courtesy Canterbury Middle School eighth-grader Vonnia Anwar, fourth from left, was recognized Thursday by C-SPAN for a short documentary on stem cells she created for a network contest. Joining Anwar are, from left, Bill Ennist, head of Canterbury School; her parents, Muhammad Anwar-ul-haq and Farhat Anwar-ul-haq; Doug Hemmig, C-SPAN; Palermo Galindo, with Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry's office; Matt Kelley, Comcast; and social studies teacher Miriel McFarland.

Friday, June 01, 2018 1:00 am

Canterbury student celebrated

C-SPAN, officials laud 8th-grader's stem cell video

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

Vonnia Anwar got the idea for a video she produced for a C-SPAN competition for middle and high school students from a family member.

A cousin who is a nurse injured her hand in an accident at work and suffered nerve damage. She has undergone medical procedures that include inserting screws into her hand.

Anwar, 13, said she started considering other options for her cousin.

“I was thinking of a way we could help her with that,” the Canterbury Middle School eighth-grader said.

The result is a 6-minute, 52-second video in which she examines legal and moral issues surrounding stem cell research. The documentary includes scholarly research, interviews with doctors and footage from C-SPAN.

The cable network selected the video as an honorable mention for its 2018 StudentCam competition. C-SPAN sent a bus to her school Thursday, and Anwar's video was shown as she was recognized by representatives from the network, Mayor Tom Henry's office and Comcast.

A proclamation from Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb was read.

C-SPAN officials said nearly 3,000 video submissions from 5,700 students in 46 states and Washington, D.C., were received. This year's theme was the U.S. Constitution.

“With so much national debate about government power and personal freedoms, we were eager to hear students' perspectives on what the Constitution means to them,” Craig McAndrew, C-SPAN manager of education relations, said in a statement.

Anwar tied questions about whether embryonic stem cells should be used to the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which says citizens shall not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process.

Her video took about three months to complete.

Miriel McFarland, a social studies teacher who oversaw the work, applauded Anwar for earning national recognition.

“She's very self-driven and motivated,” she said. “She showed true grit. She did her research.”

C-SPAN has held the competition since 2006. More than 3,000 students split $10,000 in prizes.

Anwar will receive $250 for her video, “Branching into New Medicine.”

Anwar said Thursday she's now considering medicine as a career.

“I have been thinking about neurology – something in medicine,” Anwar said.

Her video is available to view at www.viddler.com/v/a67b6d99.

mleblanc@jg.net