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KATIE DEGUGLIELMO

Concord-Carlisle High School
Class of 2006

As a junior at Concord-Carlisle High School, I was given the opportunity to travel to China on a class field trip. There I had an interaction that set in motion a series of choices and chances that would bring me closer to realizing my mission: to serve as a teacher and leader in an economically disadvantaged community. In Beijing, I passed a young girl, no older than five, kowtowing on the busy city streets behind an empty dish. Her face was covered in dirt; her clothes were torn. As a sixteen-year-old girl from Carlisle, I felt as though I couldn’t take another step. I wanted to help her. My Chinese teacher, a wonderful guide and advocate throughout my four years at Concord-Carlisle High School, explained to me that I could not give her money. There was an old man perched several yards from the girl, watching. Her money belonged to him. Not able to give her money, I felt I had to make a promise to her in my heart. I promised that I would work to make her reality different. And so I continued to study Chinese at Concord-Carlisle High School and also began studying social justice and global issues in the social studies department.

My interest in cross-cultural collaboration and social justice brought me to Tufts University as an undergraduate student. I knew that if I wanted to help a girl like the one I had seen in China, I would have a lot to learn about language, cultures, and collaboration. I was eager to develop cultural competence and so majored in International Relations with a concentration in Global Conflict, Cooperation, and Justice. Through studying abroad in both China and Uganda, I lived in a state of disequilibrium as I gained exposure to cultural heritage so different from my own. I returned to Massachusetts not only with a more diverse perspective, but also with a new knowledge of relationships that occur across cultural differences. In both countries, I studied societal structures that contributed to the eradication of poverty and enabled social mobility.

As an undergraduate student at Tufts, I also volunteered 1,200 hours of service in a Somerville preschool through a program called Jumpstart. Jumpstart is a national early education nonprofit that engages college students as volunteers in low-income preschools through intensive AmeriCorps service. Following my service as a Corps member, I found employment with the organization.

Through my years with Jumpstart, I gained understanding of poverty that exists in my own community, and how education plays a critical role in providing individuals access to opportunities. I began to believe that I could make the biggest change in the lives of children within my own community, rather than pursuing work in a country to which I was an outsider. I decided to pursue a Master of Arts in Teaching at Tufts University. The program in which I amcurrently enrolled is training me to become an early childhood teacher in an urban setting.

Receiving a scholarship from The Scholarship Fund of Concord and Carlisle was an honor. I felt supported and grateful to receive this kind of help from our community. It enabled me to do work that wasn’t always compensated but that helped me to learn about the world and myself. Our community is an affluent one, and it can be easy to see all of the privileges I’ve had because of my roots. Even though my life has been shaped by privilege in many ways, my family was not immune to struggle. My parents divorced when my sister and I were still young. The financial strain that ensued made it difficult for my family to pay for my education. Scholarships like The Scholarship Fund of Concord and Carlisle have made a great deal possible for me. This kind of generosity is what I pay forward to children and schools affected by poverty today.