From Miss Polonia Scholarship Essay:
Since 2008, the year I was chosen to be Junior Miss Polonia by the Staten Island Pulaski Day Parade Committee, I knew that one day I would participate in the Miss Polonia contest. I wanted to represent the Borough of Staten Island for Polonia and have been preparing myself for that special day, not only thanks to my Polish roots, but through hard work and a desire to know the Polish language, culture, history, and be part of the Polish-American community. I grew up in a family of strong Polish traditions which my parents brought with them when in the late 1980s they moved to New York. At home, we have always spoken Polish as well as English and lived in the “Polish way,” cultivating tradition and customs—most visible during Christmas and Easter holidays. My favorite activities at those times are making paper ornaments and painting Easter pisanki with wax and color paintings, skills my mother passed to me from her grandfather. Cooking and baking Polish goodies I learned from my grandma who lives with us. She was the one who taught my brother and myself how to count and pray in Polish, how to respect people. Her priceless lessons will always stay with me. High standards for education in both English and Polish studies have always existed at home. My parents, who graduated from universities in Poland, continually stressed the importance of education to myself and my brother. I feel that they have demanded more from us because they wanted to make sure that we would be bilingual, close to Polish culture, and have real life choices. From my time in pre-K, I started Polish Supplementary School, first in Staten Island at our church and then at the New Jersey Polish Cultural Center. In Polish School, I studied Polish language, literature, history, geography, and arts. In 2014, I passed Matura and received a Polish High School diploma.Currently, I am a junior in the Classics Institute program in Tottenville High School where I take rigorous classes: AP English Language/Composition, AP United States History, Pre-Calculus and Latin. Next year as a senior I will take all advanced placement (AP) and college courses. I have recently been accepted into the National Honor Society. This year in April, I will start my pre-college courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) because I am considering a career related to either fashion or theater production. No matter what I do in the future, I hope to be successful, and I know that as with everything else I have done, I will give it my all.I have always been engaged in both American and Polish community activities. Throughout middle school I was involved in the New York Citywide Band, a program that enabled me to play music with children from other schools every Saturday and perform with them at the end of the school year. Our last performance was at Carnegie Hall. At the same time I joined the Staten Island Shockwave Swim Team and represented the Borough at swimming competitions. In high school during freshman and sophomore years, I was a member of the Tottenville Marching Band, participating in important Borough events and parades on national holidays. I joined the Lacrosse Team, finding new friends and positive experiences. In order to help make a difference I became a member of Global Outreach, Student Organization and Latin Club. I love to participate in walks which sponsor support for special human needs, taking part in the March of Dimes Walk, the Light the Night Walk, Suicide Awareness Walk and Breast Cancer Walk.As for my Polish side, important in my early years was the Polish-American Scouting Organization in Clark, New Jersey, which I joined in fourth grade. I learned many skills including camping and survival, as well as meeting and making friends with other Polish-American girls. Together, we scavenger hunted in NYC, hiked, rock climbed, and on one special trip went to Poland where Polish scouting organizations from around the world met for two weeks at Zlot Harcerstwa Polskiego in Zegrze to learn of different cultures, and interconnect with these cultures and their customs. Joining the scouting organization, I felt a connection with my Polish background, understanding its uniqueness, and wanting to be involved with it. From the time I was five years old, I walked in the annual Pulaski Day Parade, proudly wearing my Polish krakowski outfit, which needed replacing as I grew! One year, the outfit which did not fit me any longer was worn by an American friend, a neighbor whose grandmother was raised by a Polish stepmother. I will never forget the day she asked my mom to take her granddaughter to the Pulaski parade to march with us. She was so proud of Jacqueline marching with us; we did not know that sadly she would die that very same evening.My family attends St. Stanislaus Kostka church, and from the time we moved to Staten Island in 2000, my parents were involved in various school and church activities. I participated every year in Jaselka and played piano at events organized by the former director, Pani Ewa, and our music director, Pani Ela. I took an active part in Polish Cultural Festivals in Staten Island, doing face painting for children and helping at events organized by our Polish church, such as the last years’ picnics or Wigilia.So you see, my Polish culture and community are extremely important to me. I feel secure in my Polish community, because no matter what happens we have friends to turn to. Every chance I get, I visit family in Poland, where I am not surprised by the language, customs or culture, because here in New York, our Polish community has taught me a lot about the life and traditions of Polish people.Not only do I love my Polish heritage, but I love the United States of America; it is the country where I was born and in which I live, and I accept its culture and customs, too. And so I combine both cultures in my life. I want to preserve the values my parents gave to me, and it is my duty to pass them to the next generation. That is why I have kept close ties to my family culture by learning about it, appreciating it, being deeply involved in the life of my community as well as setting high academic and social standards for myself. It is my way of promoting e the achievements of Polish culture and being its ambassador no matter where I live and what I do.For all these reasons I would very much like to participate in this year’s Miss Polonia Contest. If I win, I will march proudly along Fifth Avenue with all those other Staten Islanders who support our Polish heritage. I will dedicate my time to attend Polish-American events related to the duties of Miss Polonia, next year and perhaps longer, if possible. I am committed because as Poland is in my heart, so too is this great country which allows me to cherish my roots and blend them with its own traditions.