The Firefighter Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund Website

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Tasfia Bashar:
2014 Winner
P.S. 122

Tasfia Bashar

Winning Essay

Guiding Lights

International headlines are topped with one striking name. They are accompanied with images that are recognizable all around the world. Who is this man? To start off, he is ordinary from the outside – one would not find him to be of particular interest. His demeanor, nature, and actions based on his being characterize him as different from us all. Heroes and legends rise amongst us as we recognize the actions they take as being beyond our society’s expectations. They demonstrate to us a unique outlook and way of doing things – one that cannot be easily mirrored by just anyone. Both heroes and legends are instilled with discipline and motivation that allow them to make an impact with their choices. It is these choices, whether those of a hero or a legend, that also serve to shape our understanding of ourselves as a community.

Heroes in our world are distinguished for fighting for a cause, whether it is a personal cause or one that does not concern them at all. They possess courage and their sole purpose is to act for the betterment of others. Heroes, when they take action, forget themselves and the risks presented to them in taking such action – they only keep their minds on what they can do for the greater good and do not tend to work with personal gain in mind. Born in 1929, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will never be forgotten for his heroism during the Civil Rights Movement for African-Americans. Despite the fact that his own life was on the line, Dr. King never stooped to the level of violence that he himself would encounter and hear threats of. He tirelessly worked toward one goal: equality for African-Americans, and he did this without laying a single finger on anyone who thought otherwise. The patience Dr. King possessed during this struggle for equal rights is outstanding in that his dedication never faltered. Throughout nearly thirteen years of fighting for his cause, Dr. King led protests and acts of civil disobedience that allowed African-Americans to take a stand and show the world that they would not tolerate racial injustice any longer. His efforts led to more progress being made in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s than was made in the centuries before. Whether it was during the Montgomery Bus Boycott or in his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. never backed down from fighting for what he believed in. He inspired individuals to take a stand and support him in his journey. Without a doubt, had it not been for Dr. King, African-Americans would not possess the same rights that they have today. The sacrifices that he made in order to achieve what he did makes Dr. King a man of even greater caliber. A genuine hero never forgets his or her people, even when his/her passion for helping others could possibly put them in the line of danger. They carry themselves with an innermost strength that enables them to serve, even in the midst of hardship.

Whereas heroes become known for what they have done to benefit different people, legends gain notoriety for what they have done for themselves, with or without courage. Additionally, the impact and impression legends make on their world does not necessarily have to be a positive one. Legends are not afraid of pursuing what satisfies them, even if much work lies ahead. An individual that can be considered such a legend is Michael Jackson. Even during his early years as the lead singer for the Jackson Five, his family band, Jackson had a stage presence and spark to him that made him a crowd favorite from the start. Known today as the “King of Pop”, the uniqueness and variety of his craft made him a dominant musical figure from the 1980s and onwards – his album “Thriller” still stands today as the best-selling album of all time. His music videos for hit songs such as “Beat It” and “Thriller” opened the doors for such a medium being considered a serious art form. Through his personal achievements, he also broke down racial barriers that existed in the music industry at the time. From his characteristic white glove to his signature “Moonwalk”, he was a superstar who never stopped being who he truly was, even when he was under public scrutiny. Michael Jackson showed the world that to make it big and reach success, a person does not have to replicate what they see around them. His ability to stay driven and stick to his own agenda despite what was thrown at him made him a worldwide phenomenon. Never once did he let the fame go to his head – he was a humanitarian as well, as seen in his role in the songs “We Are the World” and “Heal the World”. He is remembered not just for his music, but for the person he was and how that contributed to his art as well. All in all, Michael Jackson was not afraid to be different. His willingness to take his world by storm made him a force to be reckoned with. Such motivation and persistence is not found evident in an individual often, but when it is, it characterizes the beholder of such traits as a true legend. Legends are not made, they are born. In fact, they are born capable of taking their own goals and dreams and making the process of working towards them something to be remembered for.

In the final analysis, the line between what defines a hero and a legend is not so distinct. The course of action a hero takes can become defined as legendary, and just the same, a legend can serve to inspire people to reach their fullest potential, in which they then become a hero to these people. Legends and heroes both have the power to change at least a part of the world with what they do and also tend to be remembered for their accomplishments. They serve to become the role models for each generation and inspire people to follow their heart. Without such heroes and legends in our world, not only would we lack the fruits of their labor, we would also lack hope for the future. Heroes and legends of all kinds show us that the essence of hard work, determination, compassion, and consideration have not died out in our world. They set the standards for what we as a society covet, or what we find intolerable. Without these individuals, the world as a whole would not be where it is today. Such individuals really are one of a kind.


We would like to wish Tasfia Bashar the best of luck moving on to Stuyvesant High School. Congratulations!

My name is Tasfia Bashar and I am a proud 14-year-old resident of Queens, of Bengali descent. In my family, it is just my parents and I, but I never get lonely despite being an only child. My mother never fails to understand me and always has a way of empathizing with me and providing me with her wisdom, and my father never fails to make me laugh and is always there to remind me when to take a break. I would never be the person I am today, hard-working and motivated, had it not been for my parents. I strive not just for myself, but for them too. I want to give back to them for everything that they have offered me, and to have them be proud of me means the world to me.

I have been an avid reader ever since I was young. My favorite book series as of now include the Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and the Divergent series. I love reading books because I find that you can always find a way to connect them back to your own life, and at the same time, they allow one to live in a world other than their own, even if it is for a short period of time. Reading books by my favorite authors is what inspired me to pursue writing as well. In my spare time you can find me writing my own poems or short stories. I also love to scrapbook as I find it a creative way of keeping memories. Additionally, I enjoy singing as it tends to help me relax. I love listening to music too, but I don’t have one favorite artist or genre. I tend to listen to whatever fits my mood at the time. I own a ukulele and can actually play a few songs on it, which is something I am very proud of. However, I am not very athletic but I do enjoy participating in a sport for fun when I am with my friends. I even took ballet and tap classes a few years ago which was an enlightening experience for me. When it comes to movies I like to watch, I tend to go for the film adaptations that have been made of my favorite books as they make everything come to life for me.

I will be graduating from P.S. 122Q in Astoria this year and attending Stuyvesant High School starting this fall. I am fortunate to have many of my friends going to the same school as me in the coming year, but for those that aren’t, I will undoubtedly miss them a lot. My friends know that I am dedicated to my work and will give any task all of my energy. They also know that I have an interesting train of thought and will tend to think of things almost out of nowhere. While I don’t think I am personally funny, I have been told I can be funny, which I guess is pretty good to know. I will also miss my teachers, especially my English teacher (not just because English is my favorite subject!) whose support showed me just how much I am capable of with my writing. She has always inspired me to work towards my goals. The idea of high school seems exciting to me but a bit intimidating, as there is so much out there for me to get to know. I do not know exactly what I want to be when I grow up, but I know I want to make a positive impact on other people’s lives, so right now being either a doctor or a lawyer are amongst my options.

Being a winner of the Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund is a great honor. To have my writing be recognized means a lot to me and is something I will always be grateful for.

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