The Firefighter Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund Website

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Erika Forland:
2006 Winner
FDNY Engine 307

Erika Forland

Winning Essay

The President of the United States is indeed only a part of the governing body of this country but has the important job of being a public figure-head and representing the government in many ways. The president can either become a scapegoat of the general problems the country is experiencing or he can use his power and resources to solve them. There have been several standout leaders in our great nation, good and bad, nevertheless being unique in their own ways. Abe Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt alike used their power to make positive changes and made the presidential office a respected position. On the opposite side of the spectrum, President Nixon brought shame to the office when he took just plain “politics” to the criminal level.

Lincoln was a prominent figure in American history because of how he changed the environment of the US during his presidency. He came into office during the stages of the civil war, a time of unrest and uncertainty. When he was debating on whether to fight back against the confederate army he looked toward the cabinet and used their knowledge and opinions to make his decision. He was truly “Honest Abe” and kept his promises saying, “I expect to maintain this contest until successful, or till I die, or am conquered, or my term expires, or congress or the country forsake me,” even though many people had doubts about winning the civil war. He showed the US to believe again when he gave his famous “Gettysburg Address” and insinuated equality with the introduction of the Emancipation Proclamation. Abe Lincoln brought unity during a time of hate and separation and for this he is noted as one of our best presidents.

FDR made a positive impact and distinguished himself as a great leader during the depression despite his own personal struggles with his health. He introduced the “New Deal” which had the goals of relieving, recovering, and reforming America economically. The banking system was paralyzed, a quarter of the working force were unemployed, and spirits were down, but FDR used creativity and courage to be a catalyst of change. The famous first 100 days was his ticket to get almost all of his bills passed and he guided the people through all of his actions through fireside chats and press conferences. ?Roosevelt gave hope to the American people and therefore proved himself as one of our strongest leaders.

Perhaps one of the largest scandals in American history was Watergate. President Nixon was forced to resign after information about him doing illegal acts during campaigning was discovered. Nixon did not have the country’s best interest at heart, he has his. He used dishonest tactics to win the presidency, like not discussing foreign policy during election time, avoiding debates, accusing candidate Humphrey of using the third party as a weapon, and loosing his temper publicly. Nixon was irresponsible, dishonest and allowed winning and power to taint his ability to be seen as a successful president.

It is evident throughout history that presidents have a large impact on the country as a whole during their term. Lincoln and FDR exemplified successful Presidents because of their honesty, courage, creativity, determination and wisdom. It is because of these excellent qualities that they have become two of the most loved and respected presidents in American history. These traits are necessary for people to trust and respect a leader because they are a bases of good character. ?The irresponsibility, dishonesty and biased behavior of President Nixon have shunned his presidency and displayed a lack of respect for the ideals of America. The Presidency of the USA is one of the most powerful in the world and it is important for the citizens of the United States to choose a president with characteristics of an outstanding leader.


We would like to wish Erika Forland the best of luck moving on to Houghton College. Congratulations!

My name is Erika Forland and I attend Walt Whitman High School in the Huntington Station. I am 18 years old. My father is a NYC firefighter out of Engine 307 Ladder 154 and my mother is a real estate agent for Coach Realtors. I have an older sister Danielle who is 21 and a younger brother Josh who is 16. My family extends further than that of a normal kid my age. I have been blessed with having 6 foster brothers and a foster sister. They have each touched me in ways I cannot begin to describe. Specifically my brother Jordan is still a brother to me. He is 5 years old and he lived with us from September 12, 2001 when he was 3 weeks old until about August 2002. He still visits us and enjoys the company of my newest foster brother Malik, a 8 week old baby.

I have had the privilege of going to a high school that has allowed me to experience new things and figure out what I enjoy. My favorite classes in high school are AP English, Creative Writing, Art and Marine Biology. I played varsity soccer, basketball, and lacrosse, while also being able to participate in things like student government and clubs.

Some hobbies I enjoy are writing, painting, reading and listening to music.? I hope to one day publish some of?my poetry?and eventually a novel. I read and paint when I have the time, but one thing I certainly can’t get enough of is music. I listen to everything. My favorites include Simon and Garfunkel, The Dave Matthew’s Band, Taking Back Sunday, SigÙr Ros, Matisyahu and John Mayer. By experiencing new things, I can try to be open minded, so that I can learn as much as I can.

Next year I will be attending Houghton College, a Christian Liberal Arts college in upstate New York. I will be on a basketball scholarship and be studying to receive a degree in Special Education and Elementary Education. I hope this profession will be able to prepare me for helping others. Teachers have a ripple effect on the future and I want to be a reason that the world becomes a better place for the next generation. I believe that Christopher Santora did this during his life here on earth. As an educator and a firefighter he did what every man and woman desires to do in his/her life; he left a mark and a legacy that will live on past his time. I think my mentor, Leonardo Da Vinci, said it best when he said “Our life is made by the death of others.” Because of Christopher and the honorable legacy he left behind, others can have lives blessed by his courage as a firefighter and human being. I would formally like to thank the Santora’s for being an inspiration and a light to me and the lives of those who they have touched by their outstanding commitment to giving back to the community and keeping Christopher’s name alive. God Bless!

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