the first in my father's family to accomplish a variety of achievements. My
father was raised Amish, yes Lancaster County Amish, so he was not fortunate
enough to experience the schooling and activities I have over the past eighteen
years. First and foremost, I am an Eagle Scout, which less than 4% of all
Scouts can claim. I achieved the rank of Eagle early in my Junior year of High
School, after a year and a half of paperwork, approvals, prep work, project
management, project execution and more paperwork! Prior to earning my Eagle
Scout, I became a Black Belt in Tang Soo Do at the young age of thirteen as a
result of hard work and dedication for six years.
in the Jazz, Marching, Pep, and Concert Band at my high school, where I am the
leader of the percussion section, and mentor to underclassmen. I have been a
member of the All Catholic Concert Band and All Catholic Orchestra for the
Archdiocese of Philadelphia since my Freshman Year. I had to audition and
compete amongst seventeen high schools and their students and I was 1st and/or
2nd Chair percussionist for the past three years. I have performed in the Pit
Orchestra for my school musical and I performed in the musical once again this
fall. Outside of school productions, I also perform at the School of Rock,
where I partake infrequent concerts covering classic and modern rock. I aspire
to be a part of the College Marching band and hope to continue performing
wherever I continue my studies.
I played Rugby for three years at my school and have now picked up the sport of
rock climbing, and also have a dedication to health and fitness. Lastly, I have
a certification in CPR as well as my Life Guarding certification. I work
full-time in the summer at my high school assisting the Maintenance Department
and currently work part-time life guarding. All of these attributes make me
who I am. And what I am is a well-rounded, determined young man who would be a
great addition to any university.
Growing up as a small, brown child, I learned labels quicker than my times tables. Being called "stupid," "whore," "nigger," "bitch," and other slurs took my attention away from knowing the answer to 24x7. I had friends in my community, yet some seemingly had a distorted obsession with my brown appearance as if it were a hot topic, always up for discussion. This obsession became painstakingly clear when an obsessor stated, "Because she's black, she's not supposed to be good at anything." I was twelve. I knew people held such obsessions with my skin, but they were mostly given as gag gifts, wrapped in facades and topped with bows of bigotry.
However, during my sophomore year of high school, I gained an unyielding self-confidence as I researched beauty standards of black females for a school project. My eyes became clear and radiant as they were no longer clouded by the presence of pain, bigotry and its close cousins, racism and ignorance. My newfound confidence caused me to begin achieving straight A's and become a multi-instrumentalist and Sr. Drum major of a 150-member band. I became the first in my family to join the swim team, despite not knowing how to swim, and swam as efficiently as a rock in a lake. However, I persevered and overcame the black-people-can't-swim stereotype, expanding my capabilities. I now set goals that I once believed were unattainable because of my brown skin. I aspire to be one of the few black females in neurology, and establish my non-profit by the end of this summer, as I've become an advocate for tribal malnutrition after a recent mission trip to the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. Because of the education I gained from my research, I have become a small brown child who conquered more than her times tables.
For this John B. Lynch Scholarship, I was asked to write an essay on three different topics: my academic and personal goals, my summer employment experience, and a life experience. In doing this I hope the committee can get a better understanding of who I am as a candidate for the John B. Lynch Scholarship.
Throughout my life, I have always set academic and personal goals to achieve. As a student, I have always strived to do my best. One goal that I set for myself was to always be an honor roll student at Sussex Technical High School. To achieve this goal, I identified the building blocks that would set me up to succeed. These include completing all assignments to the best of my ability, meeting with my teachers outside of class for extra help, and always being prepared for exams. I realized that in order to succeed, I needed to truly understand the material and not simply memorize facts for a test. This combination propelled me to achieving honor roll status every marking period of my high school career. This goal became a stepping stone to an even bigger goal that I have now achieved: being accepted to the University of Delaware. In addition to academic goals, I have set several personal goals for myself. The most important, and possibly most difficult, is to become a Delaware State Trooper. This goal will not be an easy one to accomplish because of the intense recruitment process, but I am very determined and have already begun preparing. I have already taken many steps to become a trooper, such as not having any social media. Many Delaware State Troops have told me that social media posts are a huge reason why candidates get denied. Even though it is very uncommon for a person my age not to have any social media, I am willing to forfeit this with my goal in mind. I also have shadowed State Troopers during a ride along in the summer of 2017 and plan to do more. This has been my goal for a very long time and I am going to set myself up to have the best chance possible.
One thing that I pride myself on is my work ethic. I got my first job at age fourteen, as soon as I was eligible. This first job was for a concession stand called Jay Vending. My responsibilities included scooping ice cream and water ice, and operating the cash register. It was a good first job for me and taught me many things. I learned how to work with people I had just met and also dealing with many angry customers. I worked there for three summers until the summer of 2016 when I started my new job as an HVAC service tech. I was hired by George Sherman Corporation to install and service HVAC units. This was a very difficult job that took me from tight crawlspaces with spiders and snakes, too hot attics that got up to 130 degrees in temperature. Even though I was working in conditions that were not ideal, I stayed focused on the task at hand. The next summer I continued to work at George Sherman Corporation, and added a second job bussing tables at Crooked Hammock Brewery. I took this job to make a little more money to save for college. This job was a very fast pace job that taught me a lot about team work. In order for the waiters/waitresses to get their table seated I had to clean and set it back up in a timely matter, we all had to work together to get the job done. Four days each week I would work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at George Sherman Corporation, then from 4:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at Crooked Hammock Brewery. I have applied to be a Dewey Police Officer for the Summer of 2018. I believe this will enhance all of the work experience I already have, as well as prepare me to be a Delaware State Trooper.
Lastly I would like to share a recent personal experience about myself. During my third football game of my junior year in high school I had to be air lifted off the field. I was playing the center position for my high school team and in the first play of the fourth quarter a blitzing linebacker hit me. This linebacker outweighed me by 50 pounds and when he hit me it twisted my neck so violently that I was unconscious and unable to move or feel anything from the neck down. I was rushed to the nearest hospital in a helicopter and treated for many injuries. I was put through many X-rays and MRIs, when the test finally came back they were all negative. I regained feeling in my legs and was able to walk. All the doctors that I saw said that it was a miracle that I was walking again. This event has changed my life forever, it has allowed me to understand what was important in my life, like family, friends and the good times you have with them. It taught me how to face hard situations and look at the light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dim it might be. It aloud me to appreciate the things in life that most people take for granted, like walking and talking. This injury has changed my perspective on life and I am thankful for it.
It is clear to me why the John B. Lynch Foundation asks candidates to elaborate on their academic goals, personal goals, and an important life experience. These three things give the foundation an idea of what the candidates have achieved, what they are working toward, and what is important to them. The goals I have achieved, the goals I am working toward, and the obstacles I have overcome have all set me up to accomplish my next goal: graduating from the University of Delaware.
My life journey began in Nanchang, China where I was born into a family I would never come to know. A few days after I was brought into this world, I was placed on the steps of a local orphanage with only a piece of paper stating my birth name, Li Li, and the date I was born. I spent the first ten months of my life among numerous other children, many of whom arrived at the orphanage under circumstances similar to my own.
Although I have no recollection of this time, I sometimes wonder about my birth mother/parents and what led them to give me up. I like to think it was a decision made with my best interests at heart. Whatever my parents' motivation, their decision set in motion a course of events that would reshape my life in ways that I can only now begin to appreciate. Thanks to a stroke of fate and one amazing woman, I would become Anna Li Masciantonio, American millennial and college-bound student.
The amazing women is my adoptive mother who had always dreamt of starting a family of her own. The prospect of being a single parent and the challenges it might present did not deter her from fulfilling her dream, so she took it upon herself to create the family she longed for. After considerable research and careful contemplation, my mom made the decision to adopt a child from China. Working with an adoption agency, she commenced the long process of daunting paperwork and patient waiting.
Finally, nearly two years after she set out on her mission, my mom received a picture of me, her soon-to-be daughter, marking the event that would forever change both of our lives. A few months later, my mom and my aunt traveled across the world to China for the day that would unite mother and daughter for a lifetime. I can only imagine how special this moment must have been for my mom. After all this time, her dream of a family had finally become reality. It was not an easy journey, but the child she so deeply desired was in her arms.
Several years after my adoption, my mom knew that she wanted another daughter to make our family complete. She once again endured the extensive adoption process and flew to China, returning home with my three-year-old sister, Elizabeth. Like all siblings, we have our share of arguments, but I'm truly grateful for my best friend. Although I'm not biologically related to my mom, sister, or extended family, my love for them is no different. Family is not defined solely by blood or common ancestry, but rather by the people who give you unconditional love and support.
My adoption will always be a defining influence on my life. Who knows what my fate would have been if I was raised in the Chinese orphanage. As I grow to adulthood, I realize how blessed I am in the life I have.
After high school I plan on attending a respected college and continuing my academic career. My academic standards in college will continue to be high, as I hope to maintain an excellent GPA. In addition to excelling in classes, I would like to heavily participate in research to gain experience and learn about cutting edge technology in the field of engineering. During my time at Garnet Valley I was involved in various clubs and activities, so my goal is to join clubs and other school organizations. Beyond college, I hope to get a good job at a major engineering company. In my field, I dream of being extremely successful and making various advancements. I would also like to attend graduate school and obtain a master's and maybe even a doctorate degree. My dreams for the future are big, and I couldn't be more excited to see what I am able to accomplish.
I have had quite a bit of work experience thus far in my life. For about two years I was a part time cashier at Wegmans. My duties consisted of checking out groceries and serving the needs of the customers. From this experience, I have developed efficient teamwork and communication skills. Overall, Wegmans was a great first job. I obtained a great deal of valuable experience. Additionally, I have been babysitting for approximately five years. Currently, I consistently babysit for a family about two to three days after school. I am in charge of caring for three boys of ages eight, eleven, and thirteen. In the past I have also babysat for families in my neighborhood. Babysitting has greatly improved my leadership and communication skills. The skills I have learned from previous work experiences will greatly help me in my future endeavors.
I plan to go to Frostburg State University to get a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries. I am interested in pursuing this degree because I have always wanted a job that allows me to be outside and not stuck in an office all day. I am also considering a minor in Parks and Recreation or criminal justice. I chose Frostburg because their campus is surrounded by woods. streams and hiking trails. They have many opportunities for me to learn in the field and the small class size is an added benefit.
With this degree, I plan on becoming a Park Ranger or Game Warden. I am choosing this career because as a kid, I have always enjoyed being outdoors and working with animals. I was raised on a farm and have shown sheep for 10 years. I have won two National 4-H trips because of my leadership and citizenship activities. I have had the opportunity in 4-H to work at weekend camps teaching about nature, animal habitats and conservation. My club has also been involved in Coastal Cleanup and Adopt a Highway programs. Nature is so beautiful and I want to protect this wonderful world so that future generations can enjoy the greatness of the outdoors and all of the beautiful things it has to offer.
This summer, I plan to again work at 4-H summer camps and am looking at working part time or as a volunteer at one of our state parks to better understand the career I think I want to pursue. Through 4-H, I will be hosting an exchange 4-Her from Montana for a week this summer and will able to visit Montana next summer to learn about their state. I think all of my experiences in 4-H will make it easier for me to make friends at a college where I will not know anyone and will give me the confidence to succeed and the ability to ask for help if I need it.
My parents have always encouraged me and given me the support necessary to reach my dreams. My dad always dreamed of becoming a park ranger when he was growing up. His father did not believe that college was necessary and convinced my dad to keep working on the family farm after high school. My father still talks about the regret he has for not following his heart and trying to become a park ranger. I do not want to look back 30 years from now and feel that I abandoned my dreams because it might be difficult or expensive. I do not want anyone or anything to stop me from following my dreams.
I have autism. Specifically, I have Asperger's Syndrome. Having Asperger's Syndrome is a lot like being an alien landing on a foreign planet. You don't understand what facial expressions mean, nor can you recognize human emotion. You are an outcast that cannot communicate with everyone else, and you wonder if something is truly wrong with you. Connection with a person seems so dreadfully unattainable.
Facial expressions, body language, and vocal fluctuations in human communication usually develop naturally and innately in a neurotypical kid. A neurotypical child will process that a smile is equivalent to happiness, that tears are to sadness, and enlarged eyes are to surprise. I, a person with Asperger's, was not able to learn these ques organically, but rather through scholarly means. I vividly remember spending free time in middle school huddled over a massive psychology textbook, studying human movement, culture, and emotion in a quantifiable way.
There is a clear difference in the location of facial muscle tension between those in states of frustration and those in states of happiness. Happiness involves tension closer to the outer corner of the eyes, while frustration involves tension on the forehead, jaw, and brow.
Though not useful in my quest to comprehend human interaction, my analytical and visual mind, and very basic grasp on emotions allowed me to thrive and succeed as an above-average student on my report card. I have been able to train myself to control my facial expressions, mimicking the patterns of others. Most importantly, I am able to connect with nature and animals in a way that very few can. The efficient cycles and processes of nature that pass like clockwork fascinate me, and have introduced me to my first true emotion: wonder. While analytical and complex, there was a perfect quality to the processes that kept life going, incorporating a sense of magic into the way I saw the world.
While I hope to more closely work with animals in their natural environment as a vocation, I have been able to further my study of people, and animal behavior in relation to people in my internship as a dog groomer. Pet owners' investment in their animal's appearance fascinates me because I am so much more thinking about the animal's experience being groomed.
In studying nature, life, and what makes it all work, I found a niche in this foreign planet, and I began to feel like I could belong somewhere.
I want to go to college to connect with not just animals and my inner world, but also the world of others. I want to spend my days studying ecosystems with likeminded people, and change the way that people view their planet. I look forward to all of those things in my experience at the University of Delaware.