In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) announced on Monday the 15 winning essays of his fourth annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Essay Challenge. This year, Murphy received close to 1,500 entries from elementary, middle and high school students from across Connecticut reflecting on Dr. King’s dream and their own aspirations.

“Today, we reflect on Dr. King’s legacy and his fight for justice and equality. Although his work is not yet complete, the United States is a better place because of Dr. King. These essays submitted from students across Connecticut sharing their hopes and dreams show that his legacy is still inspiring future generations,” said Murphy. “It’s hard to pick just a few, but I hope everyone takes the time to read these essays by students who remain committed to the ideals that Dr. King preached. I’m confident that if they stay engaged in their communities and continue to fight for what they believe in, we will get closer to fulfilling Dr. King’s dream.”

Ridgefield High School freshman Kavya Podila was one of the 15 students recognized by Sen. Murphy. She was one of three winners named in the 4th Congressional District.

“In my life, I am glad I live in a place where diverse races and communities are welcome. However, I recognize that other parts of the country are different. I hear stories on the news of violence against certain races,” Podila wrote in her essay. “Unfortunately, in the 21st century, society still fails to realize that we are all human. So, my aspiration for the nation is acceptance. Building off Dr. King’s ideas, not only should all individuals be created as equals but also everyone should accept each other as equals. This advancement will honor Martin Luther King Jr. and further make his struggle worth it.”