Frankie was a second place winner of a 2023 Scholarship Award.
This was the essay he included with his application.
As a society, we measure days, weeks, months and even minutes. For most high school students, they venture into each day thinking simply about the weight of what lies directly in front of them, the minutes and months of their high school journey.
For me, my story begins with thoughts of minutes, weeks and months too, but it also embraces the importance of weight. Not the weight of a grade point average or the “wait” of a college acceptance letter but the meaning of “weight” in terms of how my diagnosis of “Tourette’s Syndrome” weighed on my parent’s hearts like a shadow in the house on an early fall morning. September 18, 2020 is just a date on a calendar for most people however for me and my family it is a day that changed my childhood years for my parents and for me as well. What came before, is merely a ghost of what would follow.
From the beginning of my early Tourette Syndrome diagnosis, each day for me has faced many challenges. From medical issues and overcoming those initial months of acceptance of having a “disability” to proudly overcoming many challenges and setbacks in my schooling as I learned to understand how to “learn” with having Tourette’s. With each challenge, my perspective and persistence were at the forefront. While I do not share openly or freely with many, as I approach the final year of my high school experience, I truly have embraced internally how my foundation years affected me. I view my diagnosis of having Tourette’s Syndrome as a gift.
For many of my peers, perfection lies in a perfect grade point average, scoring the most goals in a game, or having the highest SAT/ACT score of class ranking. Like the “ghost” of Tourette Syndrome, for me, perfection is just simply embracing each day for the gifts that I have and setting my goals higher than those around me. These gifts are not always innate in others but my heart has been opened to the importance of acceptance and tolerance for individual triumphs and differences because of the challenges that I too have had to overcome.
Each of us has a story to tell. We each can draft our own life manuscript. However, it is within each day of our lives’ manuscript that lies the most important aspect of learning and growing. By working harder than my peers and putting dedicated and caring time into my studies, I see first-hand how one should never give up. While a studious and caring approach to all of my academic pursuits is something that I am very proud of, what I am most proud of is my story. Finding an outlet for me was a focused goal to help work through managing my Tourette’s. Having the opportunity to work as the Activities Assistant at the Holland Home for Assisted Living was life changing for me. Seeing the struggles I experienced, choosing a way to be a positivepresence for someone else who may be struggling was a personal goal motivated by the team of practitioners that were my champion for change. Spending time with the residents, some who are 100 years old and being the person that they look forward to spending time with, has helped me manage my tics. Seeing the clock “ticking” through their life experiences has changed the way I view my own “tics.” Working with the aging population provided this life changing experience in the humblest way. While they may feel I have changed them simply for spending seconds, minutes and hours of my day with them, the latter they have done for me is monumental to understanding how they have measured challenges and triumphs through their eyes of experiences. Time is a gift to each of us and for me, each second, minute, day and week add up to coming to terms with my diagnosis. Being academically and socially healthy enough to have my parents enjoy their first born is a tribute to them instilling in me the belief that anything is possible. My parents’ eyes on me when I receive an award or recognition of academic or community service merit is mirrored in their support that challenges are in fact merely opportunities. Each day my work ethic demonstrates embracing each opportunity that comes through the minutes and days of hard work, and the rewards that come from not being afraid to put in more effort than anyone else around you.
While the “weight” on the selection committee comes with much time and patience as well, I know that my “wait” will be like my “Tourette’s Syndrome,” allowing me to see the process through a different lens of hope. It is my hope that my story provides a different lens for you to view as well. Challenges, setbacks and failures are only successes in disguise and have allowed me to grow and embrace the “tics” of time.