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Kelly Neligan:
2009 Winner
FDNY Engine 262

Kelly Neligan

Winning Essay

“Yes we can”, “Yes we can”. This was the battle cry of Senator Barack Obama before he was elected as our 44th President of the United States. There were many reasons why our country was so energized and captivated for this presidential election. It was time for a change. So many things are happening in today’s world due partly to the prior administration and partly to our world’s environment. The American people lost their faith and confidence in the Republican Party. One very important reason is the current condition of our country’s economy, which has caused many people to lose their jobs and their homes. My family has personally experienced this hardship. Another reason is the war in Iraq has taken longer than anyone anticipated and has cost more lives than anyone would have predicted. The price for freedom has been costly in both dollars and casualties. I believe these were the two most instrumental reasons why the American people wanted to see a change in our leadership. Among other reasons was President Obama’s success in reaching out to our country’s young voters, getting them involved and interested in today’s current affairs, and letting them know that and their votes would be counted and needed in order to make a change. President Obama is a young and energetic man who has charisma and like ability. He is an excellent speaker who captures your attention and makes you want to listen. Another factor which cannot be discounted, is the fact that President Obama is a minority himself and was able to reach out to the different races and religions in our country and assure them that their voice would be heard in this election process. All of these reasons contributed to the euphoria of the 2009 presidential election.

I was only 17 years old at the time of the election and therefore unable to vote. However, I found myself very interested in what both candidates had to say regarding how they would handle the future of our country. I can honestly say that President Obama caught my interest each and every time he spoke. I plan on attending Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and because of this election I am considering getting involved in political science. Considering the state of the economy I have great concerns on what the job market might be upon my graduation and what the future holds for all of today’s college students. The cost of college is astronomical and at this time there appears to be no guarantees. I hope the new administration can help rebuild our country’s economy.

Obviously President Obama has some very unique qualities. First of all, he has made history by being the first African American elected to the office of President of the United States and, therefore, has become a role model to anyone who has a dream. No matter what your race or religion may be, anyone can accomplish their goal. Also, he is a very dynamic speaker who catches the attention of the young and the old, all races and all religions. He has assured everyone that their voice will be heard. His age has allowed him to be in touch with the youth of America. He is a young man with a family, which helps create a connection with the average American family. At my age it is very difficult for me to personally compare him to any other past presidents except George Bush who has been our president for the past 8 years dating back to me being 9 years old. Race, age and political party are the obvious differences. I have read about the comparisons to John F. Kennedy both of whom brought change, youth and charisma to the Presidency but cannot speak from personal experience.

It is very difficult to say how successful President Obama will be considering all the challenges he faces. These challenges will not be conquered overnight. It remains to be seen how patient the American people will be. With so many difficult tasks at hand, everyone needs to realize things will take time. It appears our country is ready for a change. He currently has the support of the American people right now but let’s not forget that President Bush’s approval rating after 9/11 was the highest of any modern day president and seven years later he has left office with one of the lowest approval ratings. This shows you how fast things can change. We must crawl before we can walk and walk before we can run. There are many, many challenges ahead for our new president. President Obama has inspired in me a feeling of hope and optimism for the future of our country. Now is the time for all of us as a nation to unify for a common goal and to pull together to overcome our adversities. Everyone must do their part in order for our country to succeed. I truly believe working together this can be accomplished.


We would like to wish Kelly Neligan the best of luck moving on to Catholic University of America—Washington, DC. Congratulations!

My name is Kelly Elizabeth Neligan. I was born on Feb. 6, 1991 to Dean and Lynn. I have a sister Shannon and two brothers Kevin and Ryan. I am a member of the National Honor Society and a graduate of Kellenberg Memorial H.S. I played Varsity Lacrosse, Soccer and Track during my fours years at school. I also play lacrosse for the Long Island Liberty and soccer for the Valley Stream Allstars. Some of the clubs I was involved with at school were the Parish Religious Education Program, The Leaders Club, Retreat Staff, and The Big Sister Association. Community Service is also very important to me I am involved with the Special Care Foundation which raises funds and awareness to help assist people with Down Syndrome. I am also a member of Kellenberg’s Spirit Committee where we participate in projects such as visiting the elderly in nursing homes to read to them and provide them with companionship. Another annual project is organizing donations of material to be distributed to people in need. Some of my other interests and hobbies are physical training and exercise. I am a certified lifeguard and enjoy hanging out at the beach with my friends. In the fall of 2009 I will be attending The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC and will be a member of their nationally ranked women’s lacrosse team.

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