The Firefighter Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund Website

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Emily Gallagher:
2012 Winner
FDNY Office of Battalion 50

Emily Gallagher

Winning Essay

One of the most familiar sights in the world to me is my dad leaving for the firehouse. Over his shoulder he slings his frayed hunter green duffel bag and in his arms he clasps a box of cereal, his contribution to “the meal,” from the pantry that I will probably curse him for the next morning when I get up and take out a bowl and a gallon of milk. His hair is in its usual disarray, salt and pepper tufts going in all directs, warranting him many nicknames over the years, I’m sure. He has on a navy uniform that has faded to a funny purple color from his less then stellar laundry skills. Then he treks out the door in his clunky black work boots that that remind me of being little and wearing them around the house to the amusement of both my mom and dad.

Then I get to thinking, what are those familiar sights in other kids lives, especially in wake of this prolonged recession? Maybe kids see there parents struggling to make ends meet, when they once saw them suiting up for the office. Maybe they see their parents taking on a second job, and the new normal is a mom who comes home every night late and exhausted. Lots of people are out of work, or just generally struggling, but what’s more is- they’re hurting. Since 2008, America has been faced with a financial crisis that has left rampant unemployment, a poor economy and wealth disparity that rivals the Great Depression. This recession though, has left a low hanging fog over our country that blinded us in a confusion and blame which makes it hard to pave the way for a better future. That fog is lifting though, with evidence in our country’s ability to rally around the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

People can see that economy cannot be fixed unless we address what is right, isolate what is wrong, and act as one. And one we became in Zuccotti Park, on that mid September day when people from all walks of life- young, old, unemployed, underemployed, white, black, brown, blue- rose up and said “We are the ninety-nine percent of Americans who are paying the price of the economist’s mistakes of the top one percent.” With signs, and tents, and voices, the Occupiers are the microphone of this generation. They are fighting against what is wrong: That one percent of Americans hold thirty-five percent of this countries wealth, that in the last 40 years these same people saw their income increase 275% while their tax has gotten progressively lower, and middle and lower classes’ taxes have progressively gotten higher. It is this financial inequality, and income disparity that has caused our economy to do back flips.

The greed and irresponsibly of our financial system can be no better exemplified than in actions of Wall Street, the prime target of Occupiers for its pivotal role in our recession. Corporate greed saw no bounds in lack of supervision and regulation. Banks were allowed to practice risky, high interest lending, and alienate the whole population of prospective homeowners into thinking they could not afford the American dream. But what is more, and what leaves the Occupiers as well as myself outraged, is virtually interest-free government bailouts the banks received, while defaulted home owners were left out on the street. Since the government is letting the guilty parties free, it is the Occupiers who are making sure they are prosecuted fairly.

It makes sense that the Occupy Wall Street Movement is centered in New York City. The people of New York know a thing or two about resiliency. We have come close to losing everything before, and here we are again, fighting what we know in our hearts in right. The economy is in a downturn, but do our spirits go down with it? No, we pull together and and rally for equality, for freedom, for honesty, and our gusto has spread around the county and world, with Occupy movements taking place in almost every major city across the country, and even aboard in cities like London. The people of Occupy Wall Street show how the passion of individuals can really create a positive impact, and Clint Eastwood said it best when he stated, “what’s true about them, is true about all of us.” We all posses the ability to make a difference, so it’s time for more loud voices to be heard, not just by the protesters in Zuccotti park, but in all aspects of life. We need to write letters, make phone calls, speak to people and become leaders. We need to empower ourselves by making our country a more equal place, and our government will follow.

Biography

My name is Emily Gallagher, I’m currently a senior at Sayville High School, and second oldest of four children. I plan to double major in political science with history or art history. I’m grateful to be recognized by such a special scholarship fund whose message is so uplifting and hopeful for the future.

I’ve been on my varsity tennis and golf team for the past four years. This year I was co-captain of my tennis team with my doubles partner and best friend. Between tennis and golf, I’ve made so many amazing friends and really learned the value of hard work and determination. Also, I’m the vice president of Anchor Club, our school’s community service club, and vice president of our National Art Honor Society. I’m also the secretary for our school’s environmental club and the historian our National Honor Society. Through these clubs, I’ve been very active with service in our community and have enjoyed watching the positive differences, however small, we make made through the years.

Out of all the classes I’ve taken in high school, AP American History has been my favorite. I loved learning about all the mechanics of our government, events that lead to laws we still use today, and the people who came up with innovative thinking that we still reference. But then, totally contrasting to those subjects, I’m an art person. I’ve taken art every year in high school, and the past two years I’ve been in AP Art, creating a portfolio. I’m currently making a concentration influenced by silhouette artist, Kara Walker. But not only do I enjoy making art, I love seeing art. I go into New York City all the time to go see museums and new exhibits.

Of course, all the opportunities I’ve been given wouldn’t have been possible without my unbelievably supportive parents, who have always emphasized the importance and value of education. Sincerely, I cannot image more supportive parents, teachers, coaches that have helped me every step of the way. Even after college, I already know I would love to go right on the graduate, or even law school. The fact that the magnanimous Santora family is willing to invest in my future with this scholarship is really beyond words.

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