‘Mom, I’m Sorry’: The Week 2 Winner of Our Summer Reading Contest

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‘Mom, I’m Sorry’: The Week 2 Winner of Our Summer Reading Contest

For 15 years, our Summer Reading Contest has been inviting teenagers around the world to tell us what New York Times pieces get their attention and why. This year, for the first time, students can submit either written comments or 90-second video responses.

In the second week of our 10-week challenge, we received 623 entries, and we list the finalists below. Scroll down to read the work of our winner, Kathryne Hong, to watch a video response we enjoyed, and to take a look at the variety of topics that caught these students’ eyes, including dinosaurs, D-Day, the Israel-Hamas war, cricket, the migrant crisis and the dangers of hair relaxers.

You can read the work of all of our winners since 2017 in this column, and you can participate in the contest any or every week this summer until Aug. 16. Just check the top of this page, where we post updates, to find the right place to submit your response.


Kathryne Hong, 16, from Durham, N.C., responded to a piece from the Well section headlined “A Brief History of Sexism in Medicine.” She wrote:

I used to hate apologies.

They often seemed hollow, excuses for avoiding accountability.

But, Mom, I owe you one.

I’ve always trusted medical professionals, so when you fell down the stairs a few months ago and sought help, I believed the doctors who repeatedly overlooked your distress. When simple tasks became monumental challenges, and when you apologized for the little things you couldn’t do anymore — like buckling your seatbelt — I grew frustrated. I couldn’t grasp why you felt compelled to say sorry for the pain that physicians claimed didn’t exist.

After reading the article, it finally crossed my mind that you face a systemic issue that has plagued women for generations. That your apologies are typical in a medical system where women apologize for things deemed atypical — “for sweating, for asking follow-up questions, for failing to detect their own cancers sooner.” That we, women of color, are viewed as “less worthy of care and compassion.” That even female genitalia in Latin is “pudenda”: “things to be ashamed of.”

And I am so ashamed to admit that I never attended a single one of your appointments nor offered a hug when you needed it most. But I promise you, starting today, I’ll become your second pair of eyes at your appointments, buckle all the seatbelts you need, and ensure you get the “trusting and respectful relationship with your health care provider” that “is every patient’s right.”

Mom, I’m sorry.

In alphabetical order by the writer’s first name.