We are pleased to present the Winning Essay of Daniel Naqui. He is our proud holder of the Summer 2019DirectLoansLenders Scholarship. Daniel’s essay was cautiously examined and assessed by our rigorous jury and was fairly appreciated as the best among all other essays.
Describe Something You Did In The Past That Changed The World to The Better
“Are you my boyfriend?”
“No, Torr. I’m your friend!”
“So does that mean that I’m Michael Jackson?”
You may be wondering who Torr is and what in the world he is talking about! Well, Torr happens to be one of the 20 students with special needs that I volunteered with during my junior year of high school. Torr was unique because of the puzzling, yet humorous comments he’d make every day. From calling me his boyfriend to saying he was Michael Jackson, Torr was never a bore.
It began when a new elective was introduced during my junior year titled “Seahawk Buddies”. The class allowed for regular education students to volunteer with special needs students, and I had been recruited to be a participant. Despite only having one open elective that year because I am an International Baccalaureate Program student, I chose the class without blinking an eye.
I chose the class because I knew I could handle any problems that might appear, especially since my own brother, Adam, has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Adam’s ability to effectively communicate with others has been a struggle ever since he was born. Therefore, my job has always been to push him out of his comfort zone and teach him how to effectively interact with the people around him.
The role that I’ve chosen to take in Adam’s life had been most difficult when I was younger because I wasn’t fully matured. Today, I’m able to teach Adam how to handle challenging social interactions that include anything from standing up for himself when necessary, to holding casual conversations and even helping him workout at the gym. These everyday interactions are often overlooked by the average person. However, each one of those interactions is viewed as a challenge by Adam.
Adam counts on me for guidance, tutoring, and most importantly, our friendship. He’s more than just my brother, he’s my best friend. I’m a mentor for Adam and he is my mentee. Unfortunately, Adam had some bad luck with public school because of teasing, and in turn, chose to go to a private school. He is now beginning his first year at Florida Southwestern State College and is pursuing an engineering degree. But once I go to college, he will no longer have nearly as much access to me as a brother who he can also rely on for guidance.
Therefore, I wish to teach him all of the necessary life skills that he will use in the future before I leave. My goal is for him to be able to support himself on his own and to live a happy life, regardless of how he defines happy.
Not only did Adam serve as an inspiration for me to help special needs students, but also to volunteer for 1st and 2nd graders at Pelican Elementary School. I assisted these struggling students with their designated reading materials provided by the Teen Trendsetters program. This volunteering experience overwhelmingly revealed to me that somehow young children require high levels of attention. Who would’ve thought, right? This theme was also apparent when it came to the special needs students I helped.
I combined the knowledge I learned from these two experiences in order to help me engage with each special needs child. Each child expresses themselves in their own ingenious way. For example, one child named Bobby would always want to talk to me. It was an honor to feel like an idol to him, even a celebrity. However, it was a challenge to be both affirmative with him in telling him to focus on his school material, yet, without hurting his feelings. It took me months of practice in order to be able to refine and divide my role as both a friend and, at times, an authority.
Volunteering with the special needs children that attend my high school taught me how to become a better friend, brother and human being. It also revealed to me how much of a blessing people with special needs are. Each and every one of those students has a goal and serves a purpose on our shared planet.
Torr’s goal is to dance his little legs off, while Bobby’s goal is to work hard and eventually live in a gorgeous house off the coast of South Beach. Despite the variance in each of their goals, and the hardships that they may face trying to reach them, I believe that they can be accomplished. All it takes is a close look at the man (or woman) in the mirror! Well, at least Torr thinks so.
Therefore, making a positive impact on the lives of the special needs children is how I changed the world in general, as well as their individual lives for the better. In the future, I also plan to continue volunteering with special needs students in the future.
Despite only seeing these kids for a few hours a week, it still made a positive impact on their lives, no matter how small. However, I do hope that I can make a bigger impact in the special needs community, starting with college. The resources that will be available to me and the expanded access to large organizations will allow me to reach a greater number of children. I plan to continue volunteering with special needs organizations for the rest of my life and hope to make an even greater impact on the community.
Plus, I wish to combine my passions for serving the community and business into one when I am older. Following post-secondary education, I hope to start a non-profit organization designed to aid and even employ people with special needs all across Florida.
I have been fortunate enough to witness an outstanding group of children with special needs graduate high school, yet at the same time, forced to witness that they do not have enough opportunities nor quality resources available to be able to enter the workforce. My own brother has been struggling with this issue for years. The local, statewide, and national special needs community needs an adjustment made as soon as possible, and I plan on making this happen.
I plan to first begin in the local community of Southwest Florida and spreading the movement gradually throughout the state. Eventually, I hope this movement can spread and improve the lives of millions across the United States.
This is why my pursuance of a finance degree means so much to me, because it would allow for my dream to become a reality. My passion for business and community service can be combined through this idea and I can’t wait to start it! However, the only way to gain the knowledge necessary to start this is by attending college first. College can be expensive and it is my goal to graduate debt free. I’ve learned from my mother that student loan debt can haunt former students for the rest of their lives, and it is something that I emphatically strive to avoid.
In summary, this scholarship would help my dream become a reality. I believe that who one chooses to surround themselves with can tremendously impact their chances of success. I hope to one day be that person who is able to convey an inspirational message to many different people, specifically those who have the odds stacked against them, like the special needs.
Following my pursuit of a finance degree, I would be able to work with those I trust and know best in order to get that organization off the ground. Plus, who knows? Maybe Adam could eventually become the president of the organization. After all, the opportunities are endless for him and humans with special needs alike. All I know is that this idea could change the world; all it takes is a whole lot of passion and initiative from someone like myself.