Marissa Dicarlo

I have never been away from home before and I was scared to be on my own. I wondered would I be able to do this; would I disappoint those around me? So many people were counting on me to do my best. Well, it is with much enthusiasm and excitement I am telling you about my first year at Stockton University. These past months have been like an amazing dream. Besides our academics, there were so many fun activities to keep us busy. The Osprey Ball, scavenger hunt, build your own aquarium and pep rallies were just a few of the many things Stockton culture does to help you feel part of a family.

My vision is to pursue a career in Environmental Science and go on to Environmental Law. My goals are to impact the world. My legacy will leave behind something that made a difference while I was here. I find great fulfillment with my volunteer work with children and animals, coordinating fundraisers and spending time as an active member of Chester's Environmental Commission. This year I came home from Stockton University to be a judge at the Chester Science Fair. I also proposed environmental ideas to the Stockton University school board, took two more classes this summer and was on the Dean’s list the entire year.

My dad was severely injured at work and the man who I could always count on disappeared forever. He has never recovered and even the most normal and simplest tasks are daunting to him. He has had spinal fusion and a three-disc laminectomy with titanium implementation. He has hospital stays on a regular basis. My dad does not know what it is like to sleep in a bed. He needs a hospital bed but has been denied this and medical care. He does not remember what it feels like to be free from pain. This daily and never-ending nerve damage is so debilitating at times he cannot walk. This circumstance is so unpredictable I have seen him fall down a flight of stairs and be rushed to the hospital. His inability to be the provider for his family ate away at his psyche. My dad had been so distraught from all this and it has impacted our whole family both emotionally and financially.

As for my personal challenges, this came when I was diagnosed with a brain processing disorder making the transition between point A and B extremely difficult for me. There have been many moments where I wanted to walk away from school. It takes me twice as long as the average student to finish my class work. With the encouragement from my family and professors, I forged on. These experiences have shown me out of the darkest days you come out a stronger person. The late nights and hours of studying taught me dedication, perseverance and time management skills. I have had numerous amounts of educational obstacles in my career, but nothing could have prepared me for what this accident did to my family. Never knowing if we would get a knock on the door and not have a place to call home. I never understood the importance of an education until I feared I would be denied one. Not knowing if I would be able to pay for my tuition and continue my education, meant a life unfulfilled and dreams never to be achieved.

Life can be full of unexpected obstacles and sometimes out of tragedy you find something good. At first you might not see it and just when you thought the world seemed so cruel, something wonderful happens. This is what happened to my family, out of our darkest time we found a miracle. That miracle is all of you around me tonight at this Gala. Without you, my life that I described would not be possible. It is with sincere appreciation and much gratitude to Rothenberg, Rubenstein, Berliner & Shinrod/ Richard & JoAnn Rubenstein & KCNJ scholarship. You have given me opportunity to change my path to nowhere to a path that will change my life forever because with your help I was able to live my dream.