Four seniors in each of the GLOW counties have been awarded the 2023 Mary Anne Graney Memorial Scholarship administered by Arc GLOW.
The $1,000 scholarship award winners - Saniiya Santiago, Nicole Cartwright, Ava Quincey, and Morgan Brace - were chosen out of 18 candidates, and are planning to pursue careers related to healthcare or working with people with disabilities.
Saniiya Santiago, a senior at Batavia High School, is planning on going to SUNY Genesee Community College (GCC) this fall, and then Roberts Wesleyan University to continue her education in social work. Santiago wants to become a social worker to help kids who have disabilities, or who are struggling in school or in their home life. She said she wants kids to feel comfortable talking to her about anything, or if they just need somewhere they feel welcome in a peaceful, calm environment.
As a junior, Santiago mentored kids at Batavia Middle School, and this year is taking a college course called “Intro to Education.” This class teaches how to work with students who have disabilities.
“I am a teacher’s aide at the GLOW YMCA working for the Before and After School Enrichment (BASE) program,” Santiago said. During this program, she has gained experience working with children with disabilities, solidifying her career choice. She also participated in a Day of Caring at the New York State School for the Blind in Batavia. Santiago said it was amazing watching the kids communicate with Braille and use their senses to get around the school.
Nicole Cartwright, a senior at Keshequa Central School District, is planning on going to SUNY Cortland to major in childhood education and minor in special education. Growing up, Cartwright always knew she wanted to work with children. She enjoyed helping her younger sister and younger cousins learn in creative ways.
As she grew, Cartwright started working at Swain Ski Resort as a ski instructor. It was here she learned how much she loved working with children with developmental disabilities. "One of the first ski lessons I gave was to a young girl who was hearing impaired. The lesson was successful, and it made me so happy to see the excitement on her face as she succeeded in each step with learning how to ski,” Cartwright said. “I had multiple students that season with special needs, and it made me realize what a positive impact patience, kindness and being a positive role model can have.”
She is also a member of the Keshequa National Honor Society. As a member, she has participated in many community service activities, one of which being a clean-up day at Camp Stella Maris. While a student at Keshequa, Cartwright said certain subjects haven’t always been easy for her. However, between perseverance, hard work and help from her teachers, she became a top scholar in her graduating class. Cartwright wants to be the type of teacher she’s had the pleasure of having, always being there for students and encouraging them to never give up.
Ava Quincey, a senior at Holley Jr./Sr. High School, is going to SUNY Geneseo for the childhood with
special education program. She became inspired to become a special education teacher last winter when helping elementary schoolers make gingerbread houses to bring home to their families for Christmas through the Rotary/Interact Club.
“I was assigned to a special education classroom. I was able to sit down with students and assist them with hands-on instruction, verbal reassurance and kindness,” she said. “In return, I received grateful smiles and giggles from the students. Volunteering to help children with special needs was one of the most rewarding feelings in the world.”
Quincey keeps busy in and outside of school as she plays in band and volleyball. She performed in her school musical and partakes in Lisa’s Dance Boutique. Quincey is the Interact Club vice president, National Honor Society secretary, Student Council vice president, and senior class treasurer.
Morgan Brace, a senior at Letchworth Central School, will be going to Houghton University to study
inclusive childhood education and sports recreation and wellness. Brace plays volleyball, basketball and softball. She is the president of Student Council and participates in the Leadership in Action class, National Honor Society, Big Buddy and Spectrum.
Brace can also be found in the community volunteering at concession stands, craft shows, and creating backpacks for children in need. She also organized a dozen projects which benefit her school and community through Leadership in Action.
“Most recently, I put together a charity basketball game at Letchworth Central School that raised $4,000 for the Autism Nature Trail,” Brace said. “I absolutely love working with children who have special needs. I feel that it is important to work with these students, especially to make sure they receive the education they deserve.”
Now in its 18th year, the Mary Anne Graney Memorial Scholarship is given out to area high school students planning to attend college to pursue a degree in human services, special education or a field related to helping people with developmental disabilities.
It is in honor of Mary Anne Graney, a special education teacher who died in 2004. The scholarship is funded by the Friends & Family 5K, scheduled this year for Sept. 16 in Elba. In all, 59 scholarships - including this year - have been awarded since 2006 to local high school students.