The Firefighter Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund Website

Box Top

Travis Quinones:
2011 Winner
FDNY Engine 54

Travis Quinones

Winning Essay

I feel that President Obama's “changed” America has had a slow but steady journey. Obama was a new face for American politics, and during his campaign, he made many promises. Immediately upon taking office, President Obama had to pass "stimulus package" legislation, funneling billions of dollars into failing giant American corporations. Facing a complete meltdown of our banking and financial system, and the worst deficit ever recorded since the Great Depression, I believe he had no choice but to make these decisions. I further believe his quick action saved the country from an even worse fiscal crisis. But I am concerned that these actions put an enormous additional burden on our national debt - a debt that future generations, including mine, will have to pay for.

Early in his presidency, Mr. Obama signed into law a bill extending health coverage to every American. Hardly anyone can understand it because it’s so long and complicated. Plus, no one seems to know if it will help more people get healthcare benefits or save money – it has so many involved ramifications, no one seems clear as to its real impact. Add to this the partisan politics at every level of government, fighting to block this legislation, and the future of the bill gets shakier. The cost for this health plan will be $940 billion over ten years. We are already experiencing job hiring freezes, cuts across all business sectors, and in social services, plus a weak dollar. How can we add $940 billion to our deficit? How will we pay for it? If this trend continues, will we still have many of the social programs that exist today: e.g. will there be afterschool programs for my children; will social security be available when I retire?

President Obama wanted to maintain or lower the current tax plan for middle class families, and increase taxes on the rich. Unfortunately, he got nothing but "grief" for this plan. He had to go back on his word, and strike a bipartisan deal, essentially maintaining the Bush-era tax plan (but he did prevail in adding an extension of the unemployment benefits to the bill). It appeared to please no one. As for the future, will there ever be a real middle class again - what will I be as an adult? Will we become a two class society; the wealthy and everyone else?

The one area I do feel he kept his word was to support, and pass, the 9/11 healthcare bill. This is not only ethically and morally right, it is obviously personal to me - my father spent countless hours at ground zero and he, and every other first responders of the 9/11 disaster, deserve proper healthcare and financial assistance. This bill insures that.

Regarding education, President Obama signed legislation that overhauled the student loan program. The banks will no longer be the “middle man” for student loans. Instead, the government will directly loan the money. This may make the process of borrowing money easier, but it is just a “band-aid,” not a cure. It does not deal with the real issues: high tuition costs, or the fact that studies show how far behind our level of education is falling relative to the rest of the world. We need to provide universal, affordable and revamped education that will meet the demands of the 21st century and beyond, and allow our youth to compete with the rest of the world. If we fail to own this major problem, the percentage of students unable to attend college will grow, corporate America will continue to outsource more jobs overseas, and unemployment in America will not abate.

The future – and my generation: based on what I have seen for these past two years of Mr. Obama’s Presidency; I do not see “the light at the end of the tunnel.” Many people believe we may represent the first generation in recent history to be” worse off” then than our parents: economically, educationally and in our careers. Someone has to own these problems, and recognize that they exist. We need to overcome the challenges of our politics and meet the challenges of our time. If not, and we continue with the deficit, the high unemployment rate, and lack of focus on education, these problems will continue and my generation will no longer see America as “the” world power or “the” land of opportunity. I am scared for my future and that of all the generations to come.



My name is Travis J. Quinones, and I want to thank you for selecting me as a recipient of the Christopher Santora Scholarship. I currently attend Nanuet Senior High school and will attend Manhattanville College in the fall, studying graphic design and playing on the lacrosse team.

 I live in Nanuet with my father, Albert, a firefighter in midtown Manhattan, my mother, Carol a stockbroker at a brokerage firm in Manhattan, and my brother, Matthew. I am the captain of the Nanuet High School lacrosse team. The reason I decided to continue playing lacrosse in college is because I love the sport, and I believe being part of a team will help me develop skills to evolve into a better person over all. I decided to study graphic design because I always loved art and I admire how people were personally able to create such magnificent “things.” Another reason is, like every other typical teenage boy, I like videogames, but unlike my friends, I also enjoy the scenery and the details. It’s amazing how they are able to put landscapes and buildings into the games, basically designing new worlds with a few clicks of the mouse – I hope to do this in my future.

Since childhood, I love the fact that my father is a firefighter - it is an amazing job. I enjoyed visiting the firehouse when I was young, and still enjoy it today. Even though my reason for admiring his job has changed, I am still proud to tell everyone that my father is a New York fireman.

I have had so much fun growing up in Nanuet, and I hope to continue to have fun pursuing my dreams. But, no matter what, I will enjoy everything that comes my way.


Box Bottom