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Keriann O’Keefe:
2009 Winner
FDNY Engine 307

Keriann O’Keefe

Winning Essay

Presidents come and go, some leaving office as a legend and others being forgotten. It is always interesting to hear about the election leading up to our nation’s decision and certain aspects make some more memorable than others. This year, both the youth and the adults took interest in the election of our president, Barack Obama.

Something that made our nation so energized about this election was the fact that history had a chance of being changed in a major way. At a time where racism still faces neglect in society, people wanted to see Obama take office and stand up for those who feel this pain. Throughout history there has been this on going struggle with blacks and whites getting along. America was given the opportunity to possibly alter this idea of difference and mold it into something of the total opposite. Will this really connect those who stood so far apart all these years? Only time will tell, but our nation certainly had a major response to campaigns because of it. In my opinion, energy was felt because many people were just ready to move on from President Bush. His presidency was unfortunately turned in a different direction because of the attacks on September 11th. It’s sad that America couldn’t find more support for him, but it is what it is. To most of our nation, his choosing the war on terrorism and then in Iraq was a terrible decision. America was so fed up with the way things were turning out they practically counted down the days left until he would turn office over to our new president. People just needed a fresh start and this election did not fall short of that in any way. The economic status of our nation also made this election a memorable one. The campaigning began to emphasize how each candidate would help fix America’s recession. Obama had plans to make health care more accessible, by improving our insurance system. The people with little or no insurance were thrilled to hear of this.

He promised that he would make long -term investments that would create more high-wage jobs. People voted for him because they believed in his plans for rebuilding this economy. McCain also had a great plan that involved the lowering of taxes and reduced spending. Both plans gave people hope and a new president always seems desirable when a nation fails while their current one is still in office. Although Hilary Clinton did not represent the Democratic Party as the presumptive nominee, she had an impact on the American people. She stood her ground for a long period of time and it was a tight race between her and Obama. Hilary Clinton made women feel equal if not superior to male figures, and this hyped up everybody. For the first time in history a woman ran for president against both a white and black man, creating one of the most unique elections this country has ever seen. It’s a shame she could not continue in the race, but her involvement has opened new doors for women and in society they are able to hold their heads up with a little more self-esteem. She had brilliant ideas for our country and she is now an icon in politics.

This election definitely grabbed my attention. Being that I am in an AP economics class and finally old enough to discuss politics on an intellectual level, I was extremely interested in what the candidates had to say. I watched the debates and actually had an opinion on what was being thrown out to the country. I felt that Obama had a great plan for our economy but did seem a bit unrealistic at times. McCain had brilliant ideas as well, but he was not that great at expressing himself verbally. I was still 16 when voting took place so I could not participate publicly, but I do lean toward the Republican Party.

Although a democrat won, I’ve decided to remain open minded and I always check updates on Obama and see where he stands on the issues our nation is facing. I feel it’s important to know what is going on, especially since we get to voice our opinion in government. If you don’t follow stories and plans, you won’t know what it is you’re voting for or why you’re supporting something. Neglecting politics and the news is like turning your back on your rights as an American citizen.

Barack Obama is unique in the fact that he is our first African American president, but I’d say he’s very much like the late John F. Kennedy. Both took office at rather young ages and reached out to the youth who were eager for change. Kennedy wanted peace among the people of America and would be pleased to see that a black man has taken office. Especially since he too, wanted equality and peace between the two separate races. They both had a multilateral foreign policy, and progressive domestic policies. Obama raised energies in our nation just as Kennedy did during his campaign and they got young voters involved. Both gave strong, memorable speeches at their inaugurations and the inspirational messages will be remembered for years to come. Obama, much like Kennedy, is seen as being a kind individual and he just is a people’s person.

Barack Obama will have to meet many challenges as our 44th president. I believe some plans will be successful while other plans will need altering and new direction. With the loss of 760,000 jobs this year and the rising unemployment rate, a lot is expected from our nation’s leader. I think his plan to give businesses a $3,000 refundable tax credit for each additional full-time employee hired, will bring profit to companies and create more jobs successfully.

His tax cut for 95 percent of workers and their families will help bring immediate relief to those struggling. This will also be helpful and result in success because if they get back on their feet just a little bit, they can invest and rebuild their funds. I think his health care plan sounds great. He wants to provide Americans with health care that is both more affordable and accessible. His lowering existing plans by $2,500 will help people significantly. He also plans to set up plans for those who are without insurance and care now. Successful? Yes because our nation will feel relief and receive proper care, but at the same time this will make purchasing the medicines and treatments more difficult. That money needs to come from somewhere. Obama may have to tweak things a bit to keep money circulating. Our nation has been safe from terrorist attacks ever since 2001, and plots have been squashed left and right. Obama has plans to keep our Homeland Security strong and I do believe it’s possible. His plans include allocating funds based on risk. This will ensure that homeland security dollars won’t be abused or used for general revenue sharing. America can benefit greatly because we know that money will be used for protection and safety purposes only. These issues can be worked on and improved because people are so desperate for a chance at surviving in America, that they are willing to pour their confidence into our new presidential team. The economy will only improve if people trust in what the government has planned. America wants to see change and I believe Obama will bring that in a positive way.

The 2008 campaign and election definitely opened the eyes of our nation. The energy was high and Obama took office, changing history forever. Our 44th president is going to bring great change to America and I hope the energy seen during the campaigns can last throughout the next 4 years.


We would like to wish Keriann O’Keefe the best of luck moving on to Dowling College—Oakdale, Long Island. Congratulations!

My name is Keriann O’Keefe and I am a 17- year old girl from Ronkonkoma, New York. I have lived there my entire life, and I am currently a senior at Connetquot High School. I live with my mom and dad, as well as my sister Kaitlyn. My father Kevin is a Fire Fighter from Engine 307 Ladder 154. My mother Barbara is a book- keeper for an advertising agency. They have always been supportive of every decision I’ve made, and I wouldn’t be able to succeed without their love and guidance. I enjoy reading books and I like to cook. These are things that I do when I am not busy with the tasks of every day life. I believe that everyone needs some downtime in such a busy world.
These past four years have been life changing. I know to some its just high school, but my experiences there will most likely impact me for most of my life. I certainly have changed since my entering in 2005. 9th grade was a tough year for me because I had difficulty adjusting to the subjects we were being taught. I did poorly in earth science, but I was able to redeem myself in Math A. After that first year, I became a strong student once again. I have been on high honor roll for the past 3 years. I’ve challenged myself by taking AP Economics, Honors English, and I mastered pretty much all of my regent exams. I am truly blessed to have the intelligence I posses. I have been involved with DECA and FBLA. Both are clubs made to introduce the youth to careers in business. I take great interest in Wall Street, mathematics, marketing, law and entrepreneurship. I also have been a member of Habitat for Humanity. We build a home for a new family every year and our fundraising has changed the lives of so many people. I love being able to help those in need. I joined the Saints Phillip and James Youth Group and have been attending since 9th grade as well. This was by far, my favorite part of high school. I have become so strong in my faith and I am so glad I was given the opportunity to become a member. My cousin Frankie welcomed me into a group of teens and adults who I have come to love as if they are my own family. At SSPJ we are connected and unified by our love for Christ. I will treasure my time there forever.
Next year I plan on attending Dowling College in Oakdale and I would like to major in Political Science. I take great interest in history and politics. That is why I absolutely loved writing the scholarship essay this year. I can’t tell you exactly where I’ll be 10 years from now, but I do know I will find success as well as happiness. I believe that life is what you make of it, and I plan on making every minute of mine worth -while.

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