The Firefighter Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund Website

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Ahbab Ashraf:
2014 Winner
I.S. 141

Ahbab Ashraf

Winning Essay

In today’s society, heroes and legends captivate the minds of many. Tales of larger than life characters beating impossible odds are what many have come to expect when hearing these words, making them essentially interchangeable. The problem with this perception is not only that heroes and legends are not the same, but that they are also far more commonly found than one would think. Indeed, any person can, and likely has, become one of these things simply due to their empathy and willingness to help others. While this may make the titles of “hero” and “legend” far less appealing, it cannot be forgotten that all heroes and legends have had a significant impact, whether on one person or on many.

There are both similarities and differences between heroes and legends. A legend is a person who is well known for having a significant impact on the world. In contrast, a hero is a person that does something for the good of others. An example of a legend would be Christopher Columbus. Believing the Earth to be round rather than flat, he sailed across the Atlantic Ocean with the intent of landing in India. While he may not have succeeded in this, he did discover an entirely new hemisphere that had its own land masses and residents. An example of a hero would be Malala Yousafzai. When the Taliban, whom controlled her home town of Mingora, Pakistan at the time, decreed that females were no longer to attend school, this adolescent spoke out against the injustice by blogging for the British Broadcasting Corporation about her struggle. Despite an attempt on her life, Malala continues her activism for peace and education to this day, having already caused many nations worldwide to change their educational systems. While both Christopher Columbus and Malala Yousafzai have done things of note, Columbus is the legend among the two simply because of the fact that he did something that changed the world dramatically, while Malala’s actions are far less widely known. Despite the differences between these titles of “hero” and “legend”, however, they should not serve to draw away from the fact that their holders have done good in this world, no matter how little.

Heroes and legends have both had significant impacts on this world. Quite contrary to most people’s beliefs, earning these titles does not require slaying a dragon or saving the Earth. In fact, one is probably personally acquainted with at least one hero, due to the fact that heroes are people that do things for the good of others. Malala Yousafzai, for example, is a hero for her activism supporting peace and education. Her efforts to make the world a better place are the reasons for which she is mentioned in this text. Legends, on the other hand, are people that are well known for having a significant impact on the world. Christopher Columbus, for example, discovered the Western Hemisphere. It is because of how much this discovery impacted history both then and afterward that he is mentioned within this text. Not everyone can gain the fame necessary to become a legend. However, anyone can show the kindness of a hero. With simple good deeds, we can perform acts of heroism no less significant than those of stereotypical heroes. While we cannot all be Superman or Leonidas, we can have just as much of an impact as they have.


We would like to wish Ahbab Ashraf the best of luck moving on to Stuyvesant High School. Congratulations!

My name is Ahbab Ashraf. I was born on June 15th, 2000 in the town of Moulvibazar, Bangladesh. Only a few months afterward, my parents brought me to New York City. As I aged, I found that unlike many of my fellow students, I actually enjoyed attending school. I could not help but feel excitement as I entered the building each morning, anticipating the new information that I would intake that day. In fact, I always found summer to be the most uninteresting time period of my year, as I would experience only brief moments of excitement among seemingly endless periods of boredom. This led me to one of my favorite hobbies, this being reading. I always found that reading a book would transport me away from my ordinary life into the lives of extraordinary, larger-than-life characters. And so, my summertime hobby became an integral part of my life. From my early childhood up until now, this is what most of my life has revolved around: education and literature. But now, with my last year in middle school coming to an end, I begin the next great journey of my life in Stuyvesant High School. This change will not only introduce a new environment and new challenges for me to overcome, but a new central part of my life: understanding who I am. During the 3 years that I have attended middle school, I have only scratched the surface of my identity. Now, with my adult life coming ever closer, my journey to find myself will take a much faster pace, and I will find out more about myself than ever. Now I am blind, but education will not lead me astray. Now I am clueless, but literature will provide me with my answers. These two things I know, and these are all that I need to know for now. The knowledge that I shall be led to my dream career in aeronautical engineering, the knowledge that I will find happiness no matter which road I take, and the knowledge that I shall not be alone during any step of the way; these facts are all I need to know, and all that I want to know. I have been brought up believing that if I am ready, willing, and able, I shall succeed in what I set out to do. This belief has not abandoned me, and shall not abandon me, not even in death. I shall be what I seek to be, and that is all that anyone need know of me.

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