Tony Valentino ’17 earned a scholarship to wrestle at the Division I level at Brown University, an Ivy League college in Providence, Rhode Island. But this week he earned another scholarship that valued an often unsung quality: citizenship.
Likewise, Mary Ann Cortese ’17 applied for several college scholarships that leverage her passion for community service and academics, but the scholarship in her hometown of Elk Grove Village valued her character.
Both Tony and Mary Ann won the Elk Grove Fallen Soldier Memorial Scholarship, valued at $1,000 and offered each year by members of the village’s Community Character Coalition.
The scholarship honors the memory of four soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the conflicts following the attacks on Sept. 11.
In all, four scholarships were awarded and two went to Saint Viator students.
“This scholarship validates what we do here at Saint Viator,” said Principal Eileen Manno. “We try to build character as much as we educate young men and women who are successful in the classroom and in serving others.”
The two seniors received their certificates Tuesday during a meeting of the Elk Grove Village board of trustees.
“I’m really proud to receive this award,” Tony said afterward. “I’m happy that they valued my character. It gave me a sense that what I’m involved in, matters.”
Beyond his wrestling career, in which he earned more than 100 victories in his four years and a berth to the state tournament his junior and senior years, Tony led his class each year in the Walter Payton Toy Drive collection. He also volunteers at the Elk Grove Village Public Library and in community food drives.
Mary Ann has learned to take an active approach to her community service. Back in January, she participated in the March for Life in Chicago and one week later in the March for Life in the nation’s capital, which drew more than 500,000 people.
She is passionate about standing up for the dignity of all persons and that can be seen in her perspective on citizenship, which she submitted in her scholarship application.
“Each and every citizen is granted certain rights,” Mary Ann wrote, “and you cannot abuse them. We must use these rights to serve others, for the betterment of the community.”
This fall, Mary Ann will attend Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, where she plans to double major in international business and political science, with a concentration in human life studies.
“Earning this scholarship—that values citizenship—is important to me,” she says. “I’ll be studying political science and I love community service, so this scholarship is what I’m all about.”