Irving, Texas, July 9, 2007 â€“ There is nothing quite like seeing dreams come true, but that's just what happened recently thanks to the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA). Through the association's Youth Scholarship Program, NBFAA members awarded $20,000 in college scholarships to three children of police and fire officials.
The first place winner, Leah Mainiero of Connecticut, received a $10,000 scholarship, while second place winner Harrison Turner from Pennsylvania and third place winner, Megan Crawley of New Jersey were awarded $7,500 and $2,500 respectively. The $20,000 total is double the amount of previous awards.
The scoring for the youth scholarship program is based on academic achievement, test scores, community activity and an essay titled, "What it means to ME to have my parent or guardian involved in securing our community." Since the NBFAA Youth Scholarship Program was created in 1996, the association and its affiliated chartered chapters have donated more than $250,000 in scholarship funds to students whose parents are police and fire officials.
Mainiero, a senior at Pomperaug Regional High School in Southbury, Conn., was "ecstatic" when she got the call. "I was so excited. When I hung up the phone, I jumped up and down and screamed with my mom," Mainiero said. The future International Relations major at John Hopkins University said that she's always been interested in culture and politics because of her father's job as a Waterbury, Conn. police sergeant.
"My father's service in the community has had a profound and lasting impact on me personally. Not only do I respect, appreciate and admire my father's work, but through it I have developed a greater understanding of the world around meâ€¦Most people work in pursuit of their own personal version of the American dream; my father works to protect their freedom to do so," wrote Mainiero in her essay.
A senior at North Allegheny High School in Wexford, Pa., an Eagle Scout and a National Merit Finalist, the second place winner also wrote about the pride he feels about his father's role as a volunteer firefighter for the Bradford Woods Volunteer Fire Company.
"I cannot help but ask myself what compels a man with a good life, and a fairly comfortable one, to potentially risk his life and expect nothing in return," he wrote. "My dad wants to help others, and he knows that if our house was burning, we would need volunteer firefighters."
Like Mainiero, Turner was excited about winning the award. "This money is going to be a great help" he explained. His future plans include studying mathematics at Carnegie Mellon.
Crawley, the third place winner from Sea Girt, N.J. Point Pleasant Beach High School plans to attend Bucknell University to study bio-chemistry and hopes to one day work in genetic research. In her essay, Crawley wrote about her dad's life as a volunteer firefighter with the Sea Girt Fire Company.
"I used to imagine the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood version of a firefighter, sliding down fire poles, climbing into a bright red fire truck, and petting the Dalmatian mascot on his way. I understand now the danger and sacrifice that being a firefighter entails and the courage it takes to run into a burning building that everyone else is running out of," she wrote.
NBFAA chapters in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have participated for several years in the Youth Scholarship Program. The program was designed to assist students in seeking a degree, and to give NBFAA state chapters a way to interact with, and express support for, the public service partners â€“ police and firefighters â€“ who work daily to protect the lives and property of citizens.