Academy student transforms challenges into success

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2017 graduate and scholarship recipient, Zoe DeSantis, with her mom and Burlington Mall Manager, Matthew Bourassa.


The featured student address this week comes from scholarship winner and member of the 2017 Simon Youth Academy at Burlington graduating class, Zoe DeSantis.

Zoe is the recipient of a four-year scholarship, totaling $32,000. She will attend Mount Ida College, in Newton, MA, with the hopes of earning a degree as a veterinary technician.

Zoe’s Graduation Address:

Good evening family, friends, teachers, our special guests from the Simon Youth Foundation and most importantly, my fellow graduates.  Can you believe it? Four years ago we walked into these halls as nervous, little freshman.  Now, those same four years later, we are leaving the school behind for a whole new crowd of students, most of whom will be just as scared and nervous as we were when we walked into these unknown halls.  It truly has been a long four years. four years filled with drama, hard homework, boring projects and blank essay papers.  It has also been a short four years because of the long filled friendships, fun lasting memories and truly the most amazing and interesting things that we have learned about here at Burlington High School.

I keep having to remind myself that it is not the end, it’s just the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. Some of us are going to college while others are joining the military or starting a family.  We are all here tonight because our stories are not traditional.  For reasons as unique as all of us, we decided to attend the Simon Youth Academy at Burlington.  Many of our stories include difficulties and challenges, but we have finally made it to this important day.

It is those difficulties and challenges that have made us who we are today.  It hasn’t always been easy, but we have made it through.  None of us would be here this evening if we had not put in the effort over the last 12 years of our education.  As many of you know, that effort does not always come easily.  Over the last 12 years, I switched schools districts four times.  It was very difficult for me, especially, to always be known as the ¨new girl¨ and having to make new friends all over again.  At times, it was very challenging to put in the effort to start a new school or to make new friends.  At times, I just wanted to give up, and at times, I know that many of you wanted to give up as well.  We all have many challenges that we face in life, but I want to applaud all of you for never giving up or never throwing in the towel.

In closing, I want to thank my mom for her endless love and support, and more importantly, for dragging me out of bed many mornings.  I wanted to also thank my brother, who is currently serving our country over in Afghanistan, for always believing that no matter what people said.  I can do anything that I put my mind to. I also want to thank my aunts for their endless texts and nagging to get me to school; I now realize it was all done out of love.  Finally, I want to wish my fellow graduates the best of luck in everything that you do in life, and I want to leave you with one of my favorite inspirational quotes from Dr. Seuss:

“You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.  The more that you read, the more things you will know.  The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Congratulations class of 2017!


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