The Firefighter Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund Website

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Valentina Rios:
2013 Winner
I.S. 141

Valentina Rios

Winning Essay

“…When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” –Nelson Mandela.

On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot twenty children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Before driving to the school, Lanza had shot and killed his mother, Nancy, at their home in Newtown. As first responders arrived, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. But what was the motive? And how can we stop tragedies like the Newtown shootings from happening again? To protect ourselves and our children in schools, we should stop distributing guns freely to possible murderers, and to increase school tactics and security.

To find out how we can stop shootings like this, we have to understand the mind of the man who was behind the Newtown shooting. Reports state that Adam Lanza was a troubled man with a lot of issues ever since he was a child. Lanza was maltreated by his mother, making reporters believe that the motive of the shooting was because of he suffered at home, and how his mother treated students she taught in Sandy Hook elementary better than her own son. Lanza also grew up with the possession of guns in his home. After the shooting was over, people started debating about gun control. I think the main thing to do is to have background checks on customers buying guns. For the people opposing gun control, they have to understand something. More guns to an event like this is not the answer. Violence and blood does not solve things, but rather the unity of peace and justice. We should not have to experience terrible tragedies like these, knowing we ourselves armed the murderer.

In reality, there is no safe way to save ourselves from shooting like these. This is something out of our capacity as humans. But, we can try to create new tactics to try to prevent much harm from our students in school. Many current schools are instituting the Lockdown- a drill that prevents strangers, such as Adam Lanza, from hurting students during school time. People also have gotten far into this as to making bulletproof schoolbags. The real answer is the decrease of the distributing of weapons and violence. The human being is capable of hurting anybody as long as the as they have a weapon to hurt people with.

No human or being is safe in this world. We are machines of blood and carnage when pushed to the limit, and are capable of doing the most incredulous things. But with the decrease of weapons and tools of torture, we can make the world a better place.



My name is Valentina Rios Bedoya, and I was born in Cali, Colombia at 4:00 PM on February 2nd, 1999. Ever since I was a kid, I loved to read and write. I used to tell my mom these crazy stories I would imagine and they would last for minutes. As I grew up, reading was the joy I would look forward to after school. I don’t love reading, as I don’t love breathing; it was just part of my daily life. Soon, reading brought me to the topic of science. I fell in love with wildlife biology, enough to remember 100 species of snakes. After reading so much, I found I had excellent memory, and discovered I never needed bookmarks, because I always remembered the page I left. Even after 5 years I still remember the page I stopped on a cold December night. I was reading the 4th book in the saga Warriors, and after reading for too long, my mom made me stop on page 253, paragraph 2.

A couple of more years later, I discovered philosophy and spirituality. I learned the internal peace a human being yearns, and how years of greed and selfishness can change that and completely turn your life around. I tried writing my own story on a website when I just turned 13. I had my first chapter out, and I got a lot of positive comments! I tried to continue it, but I just lost my inner muse to write more. Since then, my mom has been trying to make me write again, and maybe I will. She said I always had a way with words, and my essays and poems always captivated her. Maybe that’s why won this scholarship, and I feel blessed that my words reached someone and they thought “Well, this is a really good essay!”

One lucky day, I found a book that brought me to the illuminating topic of the Noetic Sciences. Since then, I’ve been trying to find out more about the capacity of the human brain, and how our consciousness affects the physical world. Hopefully, I’ll do something good out of my life. My dream since a kid was to change to world. I don’t know how or when, but I always knew that when I died, my name has to be engraved in history forever and to be spoken of throughout generations.

As I read through this and concentrate hard enough to see all of my dreams and accomplishments, I surprise myself. Growing up, I’ve lost my personality and I’ve changed just to fit in, and remembering everything I’ve done makes me proud and kind of find my way back to who I was. People get surprised when they see that I’ve won a scholarship, or that my average was the highest, because behind all my crazy antics and jokes and my weird personality, there’s someone in there that has true potential of making something of their life. One day, I’m going to complete my dream and my words will reach the ears of everyone in the world, and nothing can stop me.

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