Francesca Malvarosa is 2012 McKeown Scholar
- Student: Francesca Malvarosa
- School: Woburn Memorial High School
- Class/grade: Senior
- Award: 2012 McKeown Scholar
Woburn Memorial High School senior Francesca Malvarosa has been selected as the 2012 McKeown Scholar. Sponsored by Woburn-based Cummings Foundation, the McKeown Scholars competition is now in its 16th year.
Malvarosa was one of 40 classmates vying for the award. As winner, she will receive a $10,000 merit scholarship to be applied to the four-year college or university of her choice.
Joel Swets, the Foundation’s executive director, said, “Francesca is involved in a remarkable number of academic, extracurricular, and community service activities. She is an excellent example of a McKeown scholar, and we are delighted to recognize her with this award.”
Woburn resident Greg Ahearn, vice president of field operations at Woburn-based Cummings Properties, will present Malvarosa with a framed certificate during the Senior Scholarship Assembly in Woburn Memorial High School’s Flaherty Auditorium on Wednesday, May 30 at 7:00 PM.
Co-valedictorian in her graduating class, Malvarosa is captain of the tennis team and a four-year member of the dance team. She is a peer mediator and mentor, and a member of the math team and concert choir. Malvarosa also works part-time at two family businesses. She will attend Boston College this fall, hoping to double major in Finance and Italian, with a minor in Spanish.
According to Malvarosa, the scholarship competition’s emphasis on community service and helping others appealed to her. She noted that she is very dedicated to her community service activities, which include volunteering with the Jimmy Fund Summer Festival, Festival on the Common, and Interact Giving Camps.
Donna Sands, Malvarosa’s guidance counselor, said “Francesca is a great girl: very hardworking, conscientious, poised. I have known her from the very beginning of freshman year and she has since been gearing herself toward her future.”
Woburn’s high school seniors in the top 20 percent of their class were invited to participate in the McKeown Scholars competition, which began on March 7 with a written essay under exam conditions at Woburn Memorial High School. Five volunteers from the school’s staff evaluated the anonymous essays and selected the top three as finalists for the award. The winner was determined based on overall essay quality, application packet, community service record, outstanding reputation, and a personal interview.
This year’s essay question (included in its entirety below) asked students whether they agree or disagree with United States Attorney General Eric Holder’s view that America is not nearly the ethnic melting pot that so many citizens take such pride in it being. In her essay, Malvarosa adamently disagreed with Holder, citing that society educates children about intolerance by teaching about tragedies throughout history brought on by prejudices. She focused on how this kind of education creates open-mindedness in youth, and asserted that diversity creates learning opportunities.
Malvarosa said, “The answer came right away. At Woburn High, there is so much diversity and kids don’t automatically or purposely segregate on weekends. We’re involved in too many activities together. Plus, we’ve learned so much about the negative consequences of segregation.”
The McKeown Scholars Program was established in 1996 in memory of James L. McKeown, late president of Cummings Properties and a longtime resident of Woburn. Among his many activities, McKeown was treasurer of the Woburn Industrial Development Authority, president of the Woburn Business Association, and the first alumnus of the Woburn Boys and Girls Club ever elected to its Board of Directors. He later became the Club’s youngest president.
In 1996, McKeown died unexpectedly of heart failure at age 41. He left a wife, Denise, and two then-young daughters, Molly and Kelly. Having been much admired for his fairness and integrity in business and personal dealings, the loss of McKeown was mourned throughout the Boston area. Following his death, Woburn honored him with the naming of the James L. McKeown Memorial Interchange over I-93, and the city of Beverly dedicated the James L. McKeown Elementary School in his memory.
2012 McKeown Scholar essay topic
In a speech several years ago, United States Attorney General Eric Holder observed that while the workplace is largely integrated, Americans still self-segregate on the weekends and in their private lives. Holder stated, ‘Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.’ Do you agree or disagree with the attorney general and why?
Essay by 2012 McKeown Scholar Francesca Malvarosa
(unedited from original submission)
Over the course of several hundred years, the United States of America has experienced an impressive level of growth in the idea of tolerance. A country that at first consisted solely of Native Americans and Pilgrims flourished into an ethnic melting pot of people from all over the globe. These people took great risks in leaving their homelands, and brought nothing but the clothes on their backs and their cultural traditions to a land of both dark uncertainty and hopeful opportunity. While history dictates that horrific segregations did occur in preceding years, it is not to be overlooked that great progress has been made concerning our tolerance of one another, and has been cultivated in the form of integrated societies throughout the United States. I strongly disagree with United States Attorney General Eric Holder; our nation is not one “of cowards,” but in fact, one brimming with open-mindedness.
While segregation has not been completely eliminated from today’s society, the vast majority of citizens are able to recognize that repeating certain events in our history would essentially kill our nation. Society thoroughly educates young children about the horrors that can occur as a result of intolerance; beginning in elementary schools, students learn about the effects of slavery, as well as the injustice of treating a person differently because of the color of their skin. Middle schools and high schools continue this lesson through units specifically designed to make students aware of events such as the Holocaust, Japanese Internment, and the Armenian Genocide. Throughout their teen years, students are given the facts about such tragedies, and are able to put the effects of them into perspective. They are able to weigh the terrifying number of deaths that occurred against the simple idea that could have prevented them: tolerance. Schools do not stop at just racial and religious persecution, however. Additionally, students learn about the prejudices against women, highlighting that no matter the type of segregation or discrimination, there is absolutely no valid reason behind the idea. Students are taught that all human beings should be treated as equals with the same rights, and this knowledge creates a certain open-mindedness in students, and follows students into all further endeavors.
Furthermore, diversity is an incredible opportunity in this country. It is the opportunity to expand a person’s perspective on other nations. It is the opportunity to more deeply understand other cultures and traditions. It is the opportunity to broaden a person’s view of the world in relation to the way different people live their lives. Once students enter their college years, this diversity and opportunity meld together to furnish an extremely broad-minded way of life. People from across the globe attend the same universities, and this integration offers an amazing standpoint on the areas of world that students would not normally see – while outside ideas may be different than the norm, the input opens doors that ultimately help our nation progress.
While it is true that prejudice still exists in the United States, the greater percentage lies in the acceptance of diversity. And while it can be seen that people “self-segregate on the weekends,” it seems to be forgotten that there are five more days to a week. The past was a truly dark time for our nation, one filled with segregation, discrimination, and intolerance. However, the progress that has been made within our society over the past several hundred years is worthy of recognition. I strongly disagree with the attorney general, and am certain that the United States sincerely deserves to pride itself on the ethnic melting pot that it has grown to be.