By John Monfredo, retired WPS teacher and principal and former Worcester School Committee member.
CECELIA/InCity Times wishes our local high school graduates the best in all their future endeavors. We know that they will go on to do great things! To our graduates: you are now starting on a new journey. We hope that you never lose sight of your dreams and ambitions.
With that in mind, CECELIA newspaper held an essay contest across Worcester for our busy seniors. We asked them to write essays about their dreams and plans after high school graduation. After a very difficult time judging the essays (all were very good), my wife Annemarie – a retired Nelson Place teacher – and I came up with our three top winners: Gold Medal winner was Kiana Rodriguez of Worcester Technical High School, Silver Medal winner – Davien Sawyer of Doherty High School, and Bronze Medal winner was Tommy Nguyen, also of Doherty High School. Runners up were Gabriel Pinon of Worcester Technical High School, Teagan Dunn of Burncoat Senior High School and Anthony Alves of Doherty High School. Prizes for their efforts were awarded by the Woo Sox, the Worcester Bravehearts and the Worcester Historical Museum.
Kiana Rodriguez wrote in her winning essay that almost every 2023 high school senior is buzzing with excitement and is looking forward to making a difference in the community. She wrote: “How can I possibly make a small difference to help benefit our world? Ever since I was little, I always imagined a career in the healthcare field. As I grew older this plan solidified more, and I found the career I am passionate about and want to pursue. A pediatrician is a doctor who works toward helping children and moderating their health. Not only do I want to be a pediatrician, I want to specialize in pediatric oncology. My small difference towards the world is helping cure kids of deadly diseases that impact their daily lives.”
Silver Medal winner Davien Sawyer sees his future in the business world. He plans to attend UMass Amherst and major in business at the Isenberg School of Management. He indicated: “One of my long-term goals is to open my own business. Studying business at UMass Amherst, in my opinion, is the ideal first step toward achieving this goal. I am excited to learn from world-class faculty and gain a deep understanding of business practices at the Isenberg School of Management, which is largely viewed as one of the best business schools in the country … I also recognize that starting a business is difficult, and that there will inevitably be setbacks and failures along the way. I am committed to learning from my mistakes and developing the resilience required to continue working toward my goals.” He also wrote that he plans to work hard to achieve his goals and make a positive difference in the world.
Bronze Medal winner Tommy Nguyen of Doherty High, in his opening lines voiced, “I can now place a checkmark next to a high school diploma after 12 years of working for it. Now begins the biggest challenge of my life to date … My college journey will start. Since I was young, I always wanted to experience college life because of the great stories I heard from the people around me … Academically, as a college student I will be majoring in computer/electrical engineering. I want to join the 4+1 program where I get my master’s degree in my fifth year of college, instead of staying for the typical six years.
“Hopefully my college journey will go as smoothly as my high school … I will be the second person in my family to get a college degree and the first to get a masters when I complete my college journey.“
Next, Anthony Alves, another Doherty High School student who was a runner up, also plans to attend college because his dream is to become a Mechanical Engineer. He went on to write in his essay: “Success has many different meanings to different people. For me, success means being able to help others through the knowledge I have learned and being a kind person who just wants to make life easier for others. I have gained many positive qualities through my schooling and upbringing that will help me be successful in my career of choice which is engineering… My future goals are to create or build things that will benefit people in need. The people should always come first and making life easier for them would be an accomplishment. I want to use my knowledge and talent to create products that will make this world a little better.”
Runner-up Gabriel Pinon wrote that right now he is interested in becoming a licensed plumber. He wrote: “Plumbing is my first choice as a career right now, but I cannot tell the future and I may not enjoy it as much as I think I will. My back-up plan will definitely be to enlist into the Army.” Gabriel went on to write that being young gives him many opportunities to explore paths in life and, perhaps if more people did just that, people would live happier lives. In the end, he said, “Definitely do try to have one career that you can focus on, but leave space and keep an eye out for any opportunities to take. It is okay to take risks while you are young.”
Our other runner up, Teagan Dunn from Burncoat High, has big plans. She first wants to graduate from Fitchburg State University and then work on a doctoral degree. She has many thoughts about the future, from being an actress, to movie director and writer. As a successful individual she wants people to ask her how she did it and her answer would be: “By being kind and working hard. Kindness is fleeting in our world, but I believe some still have hope and are waiting for a voice to speak for them … I am independent in every way and love to show off my work. I am an intelligent woman who wants to lead an army of respect.”
Congratulations to all the Worcester Public Schools seniors who participated in our essay contest! We wish all of our graduates much success and happiness! Remember the words of Minor Myers, Jr: “Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.”
🎓Cute note to us from a WPS senior – Teagan Dunn – who participated in our essay contest:
“Hi, Mr. Monfredo!
“I’m not sure if you remember me, but I won runner up in that essay contest for what I wanna do after college, and I emailed you to say thank you for the opportunity and gift bag. I’m only reaching out again to say thank you again! I went to that Woo Sox game with my step-sister and had so much fun! We even got our hands signed by an opposing team member who happened to be standing by, and we just couldn’t waste the opportunity like everyone else in the crowd! … Thank you so much again! We had an amazing time and saw not only our team win but a great fireworks display afterwards!
“I’ve been meaning to email you sooner, but so many things have gotten in the way and my personal life, and I finally just had a moment to sit down and gather my thoughts and say what I wanted to say: how much this means to me! … Oh, before I forget!, #5 of the Iron Pigs (team) who signed our hands used a pen my theater teacher had given me and other students in our class. He said that he hopes we would use these pens in the future when we are famous and signing autographs. So it’s a cool thought – to know that I had someone in the big leagues holding that same pen!”
– Teagan Dunn