FRANCIS CONNOLLY

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Growing up as an adoptee from China and learning English as a second language was not easy to begin with. I was always marginalized in school and hearing the bell ring at 3:15pm was always the best time of day for me growing up. Like most children, there was always a smile on my face when school was cancelled or there was early release, but my smile was for different reasons.

I was constantly bullied because of my Irish name and my lack of English skills. I always felt that school wasn’t for me. I kept rotating in and out of different schools, until fifth grade when I attended Catholic school. It was a long stretch for my mom. My mom gave up so much for me and my sister. She gave up many things including living in France, working in the pharmaceutical industry, and traveling the world.

I remember my mom crying at night over tuition bills and going to the pastor of the church that is associated with the school. That was when my mom was introduced to the Children’s Scholarship Fund. My mom could finally breath. In that moment, she could finally take a different approach to my education and really set me up for life

Though I definitely did not know what to expect in a parochial school, I was up for the challenge because the teachers cared for me and took the time to understand that I had a learning disability, while I was still trying to learn to read and write. If it wasn’t for my eighth-grade teacher, Ms. Naranjo, I would have been set back, thus halting my education, as well as killing my dream of getting a high school diploma.

Thankfully, I was able to continue to learn. I also had the opportunity of interning for the New York City’s Mayor’s Office, lobbying on Capitol Hill for United University Professions, which is the nation’s largest higher education union, so that younger generations can receive the best education possible and truly make something of themselves.

I also attribute my success in school to my high school principal. He did so much to ensure I would graduate on time. Just like most families in New York cities, finances play a huge part in how well you are educated. After receiving a full ride scholarship to All Hallows High School in the Bronx, I was told to pay for the three months that I was there, and my family was unable to, causing my final grades to be withheld. When I transferred to High School for Economics and Finance, the Principal, Michael Stanzione, did everything in his power to help me graduate on time.

I am so thankful for the scholarship and the opportunities it granted me, and I believe every child across the country should have the same opportunities I did.

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