Rafael Hamawi

EMNA Student Grant Award 2014


            The day was August 15th, 1996 when I was born at Saint Mary's Hospital in Waterbury, Connecticut. I had lived in the east end of Waterbury until my parents had finalized the purchase of our house in the East Mountain area shortly after a month following my birth. I have created numerous irreplaceable memories over the past seventeen years living here. I can recall as if it were only yesterday when my brother and I were young, engaging in outdoor activities together. I remember attempting to build the biggest snowmen possible, catching intricately detailed butterflies, racing one another in the swimming pool, and even playing each other one-on-one under the basketball hoop. Sometimes my parents would take us down to the East Mountain park where my brother and I investigated the playground or watched a basketball game on the court as my parents engaged in tennis matches. After numerous visits to the park, I grew an interest in becoming an athlete, so my parents signed me up for the EMAA basketball team, where I joined the Rockets in the fifth grade. Being part of my first basketball team was an exciting and incomparable experience; it was here where my leadership skills were implanted. Through numerous games and practices, I learned how to communicate with different individuals and how to treat others with the utmost respect. As I grew older, I managed to enhance, mold, and implement my leadership skills among various extra-curricular activities such as student government or my local youth group, the Maronite Youth Organization at Our Lady of Lebanon Church. The Maronite Youth Organization has opened up many doors for leadership opportunities. I was treasurer and gained leadership experience beginning at the age of twelve. Three years ago, I had an opportunity to attend the regional conference for Maronite youth groups in Brooklyn, New York. I connected with other visionaries and swapped perspectives on certain situations. This conference sprouted the blossoming of my leadership skills to where I am now a dedicated leader, one that is ready to serve. Today, at Holy Cross, I hold the titles of Student Government class treasurer, National Honor Society secretary, and Spanish Club president. Thinking back, I would not have seen myself venturing down the path of such leadership, and I owe it all to the East Mountain community. The East Mountain community has established within me the qualities of profound leader character, respect, and gratitude. Without the East Mountain community, I would not be the person I am today. East Mountain has always been my true home; it is the solidified foundation that keeps me standing.


Why I am Worthy of this Award

            Both my parents work hard everyday to send me to a private, Catholic, educational institution while keeping up with all the necessary bills. My parents always want the best for my brother and I. They make sure we are in a learning environment where we are motivated for success and excellence is strived for. I am a hardworking, honors student and leader that always puts my one hundred percent best into all that I do. I have always been grateful for all the opportunities that society has offered me and I constantly want to give back. My parents struggle to manage with the costs of school tuition; my current high school tuition is $9,000 and my brother's college tuition is $8,000. This coming fall, I am planning on attending Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts where I shall begin my path to being an optometrist. With this award, I will be able to continue my education, offer breathing room for my parents, accomplish my life goal of becoming an optometrist, and help provide free sight to all with eyeglasses.


Future long term and short term goals

            I plan on graduating high school this June and continuing my studies in Biology at Assumption College this fall. After the completion of four years at Assumption, I plan on entering optometry school and fulfill my lifetime dream career of being an optometrist. I have a constant yearning to always give back to the community for all the opportunities that I have been offered. In order to return the gracious favors, I would like to open my own optical center in Waterbury and provide free glasses to those who are unfortunate to receive any.


Community Activities:

            Altar Server for 3 years at Saint Peter and Paul Church. Halloween Happening for the past four years at school, before and during Halloween Happening, around 24 hours. Taste of Lebanon every year since 2008, over 84 hours of work. (Taste of Lebanon is a 3 day event every year in which our Lebanese culture is expressed). Selim Noujaim campaign for two years, over 15 hours of work. Phone a Ton for Holy Cross High School 8 hours. Apple Rehab every year since freshman year, about 10 hours. Abbott Terrace Health Center every year since freshman year, about 14 hours. Digs for Diapers Volleyball Tournament at Holy Cross High School for the last two years, about 7 hours. Mother Club Bazaar at Holy Cross High School since freshman year about 7 hours. Christmas Bazaar at Our Lady of Lebanon Church for 4 years, about 12 hours. Open House for Holy Cross High School for three years, about 7 hours. Senior-lock-in setup  & cleanup 6 hours. National Honor Society sandwich making weekly, 16 hours. Church clean up at Our Lady of Lebanon 72 hours. Volunteer Teacher Aid at Little Angels Corner Learning Center (LLC) in Cheshire, over 200 hours.