The Firefighter Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund Website

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Joseph Faustino Foti:
2012 Winner
CCC East River Housing Corp.

Joseph Faustino Foti

Winning Essay

As a resident of New York and an avid follower of current events, it was virtually impossible for me to avoid noticing the camp of protesters amassing in Zuccotti Park. Although the mission statement of the campaign fluctuated over time, the main argument was constant. The fact that the wealthiest 1% of American citizens hold more wealth that the other 99% of the population is a shame. Indeed, 99% of people would agree that the current distribution of wealth is unjust. I count myself among that 99% of people who do not agree with the current balance. I see tragic new stories of poverty on the news every day. I have seen a special on children whose families are too poor to continue paying the mortgage on their homes, forcing the families to move into the homes of neighbors, friends, family, and even into their own cars. The reality is that poverty runs rampant in our country, while the wealthy for the most part live glutinously.

Although I agree with the ideas of this movement, I do not agree with the manner in which they have conducted themselves. The spreading of awareness caused the initial strength of the movement. Camping in Zuccotti Park not only gave the movement a base of operation, but gave the media the necessary controversy to justify continued coverage over a long period of time. The movement’s message was one of common sense, so much so it attracted many rational people to support the cause, inside and outside of Zuccotti. Problems began to emerge as other issues like education reform engulfed the purpose of the movement. Additionally at the peak of the media attention, the way to progress as a movement would have been to choose one central leader to clearly represent the movement’s views. Electing a reputable leader would have also helped inspire people who agreed with the message, but were skeptical of the stability of the movement.

Additionally, at the risk of sounding pessimistic, there is only so much that can be achieved working both inside and outside our system of government. Occupy Wall Street chose to work around the processes of our government, which in my opinion was a mistake. If OWS was to become affiliated with or directly create a political party, then maybe this movement could make a dent in the poverty line. Alas, this did not happen. After Zuccotti Park was evacuated and destroyed, the original OWS movement lost substantial momentum. The public support the protesters had rallied began to shrink when the movement faded from the front page. Although there are still sizable movements in Oakland and Boston I fear that the movement is dying down.

Sadly the marches in the streets and the picket lines around branches of banks around the city did not change the statistic. The movement succeeded in spreading awareness, but being aware of an issue does not bring it radically closer to being solved. The OWS movement did not change our country at all, it just reminded the people how flawed and imbalanced our nation truly is.

As a future voter, I see our American system of government as essentially flawed. The distribution of wealth simply will not change as long as lobbyists are given free range to bribe politicians into supporting whatever company or association they represent. In addition to this, our two party system is obviously flawed. Democrats and republicans have been increasingly hostile and involved in party politics. Our senators and congressman are locked in a continuous competition to gain more money, power and influence than their associates. When I learned that Republicans in the senate had voted against a bill that would give better health care to 9/11 first responders and those who became sick from inhaling the fumes released by the smoldering World Trade Center, and had voted against a bill that called for equal pay for men and women who held equal jobs I was disgusted. I felt ashamed that my country’s politicians couldn’t agree on two things that seem like common sense to me.

My hope for the future is that Occupy Wall Street picks up again and brings a new era of equality to our turbulent country, and I hope that I will have a hand in that.

Biography

We would like to wish Joseph Faustino Foti the best of luck moving on to Case Western Reserve University. Congratulations!

Born into a family of firefighters it should be no surprise that Joe wants to pursue a profession that will allow him to help others. Having lost his uncle in the tragedy of 9/11, Joe would like to help save lives through a career in medicine. He has already begun to explore the field in several ways. In the summer of 2011, Joe enrolled in an Introduction to Careers in Medicine course in the Summer Discovery program at the University of Michigan.

Eager to learn more about both the clinical and research aspects of medicine, Joe sought out opportunities in both areas last summer. He took a week long Microbiology class at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The focus of the course was lab work and Joe thrived in this hands-on setting; he happily spent hour after hour culturing, staining and examining bacteria using a variety of scientific methods. Upon his return, Joe spent a week shadowing a physician assistant, moving between a nursing home for AIDS patients, a family health clinic and a drug rehabilitation center. As much as Joe loved his lab experience at RIT, he realized that patient interaction is what he really wants.

For the past two years at his school, Friends Seminary, he has also led the Partners in Health Club, a student chapter of the international organization that provides medical care to those in need in many countries including Rwanda and Haiti. The club fundraises for and gathers medical supplies to send to PIH clinics all over the world.

In his free time, Joe enjoys swimming, art and music. At Friends Seminary, Joe served as the Captain of the Varsity Swim team. He has actually been a member of the varsity team since the eighth grade! Joe swims in a variety of events including freestyle, backstroke, and the fly. Throughout his time at Friends he has dabbled in acting, photography and graphic design. Last fall he joined the fledgling Comedy Club; Joe loves going to comedy shows in the City and may even take the stage himself one day! And, a serious rock n’ roll fan, Joe taught himself to play the bass guitar.

Joe lives on the Lower Eastside in the East River Housing complex with his parents, Gloria and Joseph Foti, and brother, Anthony. Joe will be the first in his immediate family to pursue a four year degree; he places a high value on education and is motivated to achieve his best as a student and community member. In the fall, he will head off to study biology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

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