BRISTOL - The Bristol Association of Retired Teachers (BART) has chosen Ashley Yung and Lauren Santiago, both seniors from Bristol Central High School, to receive scholarships.
The students were honored recently at the BART Scholarship Dinner at Farmingbury Hills Country Club in Wolcott.
Each year BART awards a $2,000 scholarship to two qualified students from Bristol’s public high schools who plan to pursue a career in teaching.
“In order to qualify for consideration students must have an academic average in the top 25 percent of their class, be recommended by a teacher or guidance counselor, and be involved in school and community activities,” according to Alexandra Beal, BART Scholarship Committee member.
“In addition each applicant must write an essay explaining his or her reasons for choosing a career in education and referencing a current or former teacher who influenced the choice,” Beal said.
Santiago and Yung have known each other since kindergarten. “I was really surprised when I found out I won but I was happy because she won too,” Yung said.
Yung, who plans to go to Boston College, said she is torn between elementary education and teaching math at the high school level.
Currently she interns at South Side Elementary School, where she said she really enjoys working with the children. AT BCHS, she is senior class president, co-chair of the Prom Committee, and active in the InterAct Club community service volunteer organization.
“I’ve always imagined myself as a teacher, because my grandma was a teacher in China and so was my grandpa and it kind of runs in the family,” she said. “I can’t really imagine myself doing anything else. I feel like when I am a teacher I won’t be actually working a day in my life.”
In her essay, Yung wrote that even when she was little “it was natural for me to assist and explain concepts to those who were struggling. Education is essential, as a teacher you are a voice for future generations; you have the ability to guide students in the right direction, advise them, and assist in the discovery of their aspirations.”
Working at South Side, she loves hearing the students express their aspirations, such as becoming president or playing for the NBA, she said. “Those dreams are a start to their big and bright goals. My opportunity to become an educator would allow me the privilege to integrate the curriculum and life lessons of the world.”
Yung named her sophomore English teacher, David Lattimer, as the teacher who had the greatest influence on her.
“His classroom always exudes positivity,” she wrote. “He continually reminds me (of) the importance of working hard but staying true to myself - no matter how quirky I am. Mr. Lattimer is always there to lift my spirits through any hardship. He is my teacher, mentor, and a supportive human being in my life. He embodies the type of teacher I aspire to be in the future.”
“Teachers inspire – I want to be an inspiration to those I come into contact with. I am genuinely excited to embark on my journey of becoming an educator,” she concluded.
Santiago said her love of teaching started from watching her mother teach dance classes and working with special needs children at her studio The Dance Experience.
“My grandma was a teacher too, so it has just been a part of my life,” she said. “I’ve just always thought of myself as a teacher as long as I could remember.”
She loves to sing and play piano and her plan is to attend Central Connecticut State University to study music education.
In her essay, Santiago wrote that when she was little she would draw pictures of herself as an art teacher or coaching younger kids in a gymnastics studio. Eventually her plan evolved to being a music teacher, working at the high school level.
“I think it’s the most challenging, but I like the maturity of the kids and I think music is imperative for teens in helping them find their place in school, in their community and throughout their lives,” she wrote.
Santiago wrote that she already has experience tutoring fellow students in biology, geometry, algebra, physical science and music theory, and has also been a section leader in her choir class through all four years of high school.
“For my junior and senior year I have been manager of two of our audition-only singing specialty groups, one of them being a completely student-run a cappella group. Since the group is completely student-run, I am in charge of picking out the music, assigning parts, teaching dance moves when necessary, scheduling in and out of school rehearsals, and actually teaching the music. It’s like my very own music class!” she wrote.
She cited David Nelson, her choir teacher since freshman year, as a strong influence.
Starting as a shy, unconfident student with only a basic understanding of music, she wrote, “Mr. Nelson has not only taught me so much about music, but he has also taught me so much about myself. He helped me break out of my shell and really discover my voice.”
“Teaching doesn’t just take place within a classroom, the opportunities are everywhere,” Santiago wrote. “I will not just be teaching a subject but socialization, emotional skills, and I will have the opportunity to shape lives and help give my students confidence and a sense of self accomplishment.”
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.