Cayman student beats thousands in essay competition

Martina Watler, 13, a student at St. Ignatius Catholic School, has been named junior runner-up in the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2015, from among 7,200 junior entries, and will be invited to Buckingham Palace to accept her prize. 

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, will present the winners with their awards in October on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, patron of the competition. 

Writing on this year’s theme: “A Young Commonwealth,” Martina’s entry was a “vulnerable but brave examination of a young girl’s inner world, her anxieties and her dreams,” according to a statement from the Royal Commonwealth Society, which announced the award recipients. 

An excerpt from Martina’s entry reads: “Mom said, ‘Baby, do you have free time?’ 

“Yeah, sure, mom. Yes, it’s true, I get a lot of free time; Yes, mom, it’s true, I worry a lot; yes, it’s true, I don’t listen; Yes, mom, it’s true, I cover my face with a lot of makeup; yes, mom, it’s true that you work hard for my education and I should try more. Yes, mom, it’s true! It’s all true!” 

In their description of Martina’s entry, the panel of 96 judges, said: “Martina writes powerfully from the point of view of an anxious teenager trying to cope with the intersection between her view of herself and her mother’s view of her. Her vocabulary and phrasing successfully reflect the tensions in her world. The essay is poignantly amusing too.” 

The Royal Commonwealth Society release quotes Martina as saying, “I entered the Commonwealth Essay Competition because I wanted to inform young people of how amazing they can be and what amazing advantages youth have.” 

Martina’s hobbies include drawing, reading, mathematics and science. She wants to be an orthodontist or a forensic pathologist and “hopes to be able to make a positive change in the world by inspiring young people,” the release said. 

Michael Lake, director of the Royal Commonwealth Society, said, “The Royal Commonwealth Society is delighted that in its 132nd year, the essay competition has received a record number of entries and that submissions came through from all across the Commonwealth. I am particularly impressed by the way in which those young people are able to articulate thoughts of great maturity and insight that will be important to the world in which they will grow up. Their inspirational pieces of writing testify to their strong desire to make a difference.” 

More than 13,000 entries from more than 600 schools in 49 Commonwealth countries and territories were submitted for this year’s competition. 

The senior winner of the competition was Paraschos Cant, 16, of Cyprus; senior runner-up was Tawanda Mulalu, 18, of Botswana; junior winner was Nathan Swain, 11, of Tristan da Cunha. 

Martina and the other three top winners will be invited to “Winners Week” in London, a series of cultural and educational activities which will culminate in the awards ceremony at Buckingham Palace. 

The Queen’s Common­wealth Essay Competition, founded in 1883, is the world’s oldest international schools writing contest. 

Martina Watler
Martina Watler


  1. Martina Watler, let me congratulate you on a job well done. I am so very happy for you, you are such a beautiful happy child and may you continue to be blessed in new goals as you go forward.