2021 Scholarship Recipient

I think the most important talk I’ve had concerning a difficult topic was when my father spoke to me about racism, and how he experienced it in his life. I’ll never forget how the conversation went down, as we were driving through South Brooklyn, where he first lived when he came to this country from the Dominican Republic. Despite me being very light skinned for a Latino, he still gave me “the talk” concerning the police. It was honestly quite shocking and made me reevaluate the way I grasped the concept of racism. During this conversation, my father talked about how he was discriminated against by the NYPD, and how he was simply treated differently because he was dark skinned. I know that racism is a systemic problem in this country.

When I was young, another player on my baseball team asked if I was adopted because my father was black. I just said "no." At the time, I was young and really didn’t think much about it. My mother is white and my father is dark skinned. However, with my father's accounts, I was able to gain a new understanding and insight on what it feels like to be discriminated against. The shame, the inequality, and the downright wrongness of what I heard from my father really opened my eyes to how racism is the scourge of society.

While I was always against racism, I think that this story motivated me to fight for racial justice not only economically but socially and criminally as well. This rather unnerving conversation I had has caused me to be more aware. I think knowing that my father thinks it could happen to me despite my light skin tone says a lot about the world we live in. How are people today fighting racism in my community? People are getting involved in protests such as Black Lives Matter. It is important when people of different religions, colors, nationalities come together to fight racism. Students like myself are discussing racism in our Ethics team. Feelings will become more manageable with repeated exposure and deeper understanding. When emotions arise, resist the urge to react immediately. Also, be honest. I’m lucky that I live in a very diverse part of the country. My friends are diverse in many ways: religion, race, color, economic situation, and sexual orientation. We talk to each other, and do not always agree. However, we respect each other and value one another. I believe that is the key to ending racism.

Volunteering and community service are ways that people work together and learn about each other. I volunteer with the Haverstraw Police Athletic League supporting the local police at Badges for Baseball events and with basketball teams. I help the police officers at community events where they get students and police involved with each other. This is a way for law enforcement and our diverse community to work together and understand each other. It is a step towards bettering relations between police and people of color in the community. People should never be afraid of reaching out to the police because they fear police brutality.

Another way to fight racism is to be is to be a leader / role model in the community or on the board of a group. I’m co-captain of the NRHS Varsity Ski Team where I make sure the team is focused and on track, and ready to represent NRHS with integrity. It is my job to lift the team’s spirits when they’re down. I mentored younger players when I was the captain of the NRSA soccer team. I am also the Treasurer of the Music Honors Society for North Rockland High School where I organize Coffeehouse events with musical groups and form small chamber groups for volunteer activities in the community. The more I can mentor students as a person of color, the more we will respect each other and appreciate our differences.

While my life so far has been entrenched in service, I believe my future will embody a longstanding commitment to civic engagement. While I intend to go to law school after graduating college, my ultimate goal is to become a politician and help address the problems of those most in need. If I were to be elected to public office, I would make it my mission to engage with the community I represent and hear what they have to say on problems such as our justice system, the economy, and healthcare. I know I could be of great service to my community as my dedication to civic engagement would allow me to understand diverse points of view. Systemic racism can only be solved by changing systems and laws. For that we need more people of color in positions that will allow them to make substantial changes.

I am very proud to be Dominican and Italian. I won the Hispanic Heritage Award 3 times and earned the Estudiante Meritorio (Student Award for academic excellence) given by the Dominican Consulate 4 times. Most importantly, I am a College Board National Recognition Program Recipient for 2020-21 Hispanic Scholars.

I have a personal reason to stand in the fight against racism, and shift my thoughts on how to end it. This scholarship will go towards achieving my goals of graduating from college, going to law school, and fighting against racism. I thank you in advance for reviewing my application.

Phillip Mathangani Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
EIN: 46-5338870 | ©2024