By Jessica Easthope
“Attending St. Francis College would allow me to pursue my dreams and help me to create a future of success I’d be most proud of.” That’s the last line of the essay that sent Emily Castellano on her way to living her dreams.
Earlier this month, the Xaverian senior got the surprise of a lifetime. St. Francis College (SFC) faculty showed up on her doorstep April 1 to let her know she was awarded a full tuition scholarship to the Brooklyn college.
“It was a rush of emotions and crazy,” Emily said. “My mom was crying. I couldn’t believe I was the one who got it. My friend applied for it too.”
More than 450 students applied for the Presidential Scholarship. Emily was one of just four students who got it.
“Students haven’t had much to celebrate,” said SFC Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management, Robert Oliva. “So we thought, why not bring a little bit of St. Francis College to them so they can celebrate with their family, friends and with their school community.”
Last year, St. Francis College welcomed in 747 students — its largest freshman class ever. This year, it’s hoping to beat that. Normally, almost every incoming freshman will receive some kind of merit-based scholarship. For this upcoming school year, the school has accepted more than 3,500 students and every single one was given a scholarship.
But what sets Emily apart? Robert says he saw it right away.
“What separated Emily from the rest was her commitment to serve the community and one another and to make a difference,” Robert said.
Emily says she can’t help but look back on that moment.
Her mother started working to pay for tuition at Xaverian, but during the pandemic, she lost her job. Emily’s dad, who owns an extermination business, lost nearly all his customers.
“It was very hard for us at that time,” Emily said. “We were worried about how we’d pay our bills and everything and the tuition. It was a scary time for us, but thank God everything worked out well.”
Emily will be graduating in five years with a master’s degree in accounting. Just like Xaverian’s Clipper mascot, Emily’s going to be navigating a new adventure. Even though the waves might get rough, her faith will keep her steady.
Emily’s first day at St. Francis College will be Sept. 8.