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Fall 2020 Scholarship Winner: Alianna LeClair

Fall 2020 scholarship winner Alianna LeClair

Growing up, I never fully understood how lucky I was to have ended up where I am right now. As a child, I was constantly surrounded by my family. Not only did I live with my parents and two siblings, but in the same apartment complex were my aunt and great-grandmother. Whenever I’d go to class and get a prompt to talk about my family, my teachers would always remark how it was a miracle that I got to meet my great-grandmother, let alone practically live with her. I didn’t fully understand what they meant by this since I was just a child, but I soon learned when I lost her in middle school how special that time was. Family has always been the most important aspect of my life and we were always with each other. When my mom left for work, my sister and I would simply run right downstairs where our aunt and Gigi were waiting for us. My aunt would always bring us to Dunkin’ right across the street and spoil us, she treated us like we were her own. The amount of donuts and coolatas that we consumed is ungodly. Yet she didn’t care and neither did we, that was love.

Our apartment complex, specifically the first floor was known for hosting the best events. I can remember all of the incredible New Year’s parties that took place, birthdays, and celebrations, all surrounded by family. My Aunt Irma and Gigi were the kindest souls and always made it feel like home for anyone who came and visited. Both of them had such difficult lives of their own that they went out of their way to help others and it showed. With this being said, I’m still forever grateful for the time I got with both of them and they shaped me into the person I am right now. These memories have a special place in my heart and explaining it to others always takes a bit of time. Our family has a special dynamic and I’m okay with that.

Family is still the most important aspect of my life, but it has felt tumultuous and sort of like a grieving process recently. Not only with actual grieving of losses and funerals but also the feelings of family and connections. Being a first-generation college student has a copious amount of lovely opportunities accompanied by those pinging pains of envy in a way. I’ve been able to experience living on campus and taking 12 classes, working incredibly hard to make my family whom I love so much proud. Yet being in college, away from home in a way makes me feel more disconnected from them. I start to wonder if my fear of missing out is just a fear and isn’t actually me losing these moments with my loved ones that I grew up with. Part of growing up is separating and I always knew this, I even wished for it as a child. I’d stay up late and pray to God to make me an adult so I could do all of the “cool things” I saw those I looked up to doing. Now that I am an “adult”, all I want to do is be woken up by mom telling me she is leaving for work and my sister and I hopping out of bed, running down the stairs, ready to make some monkey bread and convince our Aunt Irma that we need (not want) coolatas.

My entire experience hasn’t been filled with these feelings of jealousy for the past and missing what my family is even doing as I type this, there are such gorgeous things that are happening for me too. I hope by pursuing my dreams I can encourage my baby brother who’s watching me, inspiring him to chase whatever it is that he wants. That it’s even possible to do so. Of course, I want to also make my family proud, but above all else, I want them to know that they are the reason I am here in the first place. I want all of the hard work to pay off above all else because I want to be an amazing music therapist and help those around me. No matter what I do, I will always cherish my loved ones, the memories I made/make, the friends and achievements since being in college, and everything I have been learning. If I hadn’t gone to college in the first place, I don’t know who I would be and for that, I know I made the right choices to end up where I am.

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