my information

--- Issued September 13, 2007

With summer coming to a close, the Tullio Scholarship winners are all off to college, thanks, in part, to the Erie Housing Authority.

HACE Executive Director John E. Horan today praised this year's winners of the Louis J. Tullio Memorial Scholarships for overcoming adversity in their lives while pressing on with their education.
"We really feel these students need to be recognized for their accomplishments," he said.

There were seven winners in this year's Tullio Scholarship Awards, each one winning $1,000 toward their college educations. Horan cited four of these winners, who moved from country to country and sometimes, refugee camp to refugee camp as youngsters as examples of tenacity and perseverance:

Ilyas Abukar, a refugee from Somalia. He came to the United States with his family at age eight. He is dedicated to community service, working for the Housing Authority as a youth counselor and is assigned to the YMCA at the John E. Horan Garden Apartments.

Zakaria Sharif, who left Somalia at age three with his family. He the shift manager at the McDonald’s on 5th & State, opening the store at 5 a.m. He goes to his second job with the Housing Authority YMCA Youth Club at 1 p.m. each day.

Mebrak Tadesse, originally from Ethiopia. She works in the Authority’s Section 8 office from 8:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. She then goes to St. Vincent Hospital for her second job in the housekeeping department.

Faduma Salah is a refugee from Somalia who, in her second semester at Behrend, took he 8 a.m. bus to Behrend and didn't returning home until the last bus at midnight.

"These kids with two jobs and horrible schedules have obstacles to overcome that most adults would find difficult to deal with, but they do it -- and English is their second language," Horan said. "If there is a lesson to be learned from them, it is that an early life of adversity, and in some cases, deprivation, can be overcome through hard work.

"One of the reasons we give the Tullio Scholarships is to identify individuals who will act as role models for other public housing residents so they too, might make the decisions that lead them out of public housing and into the mainstream of society."

All of the winners of 2007 scholarships, below, were eloquent in stating their need for a college education:


18, 100 block of East 18th Street, a sophomore majoring in creative writing at Penn State, the Behrend College, with a GPA of 3.84. He plans to pursue a law degree, “although my creative writing would open up to me many other venues in which I can make a difference in my community. It is still my dream to go into law to represent the increasing surplus of immigrants flowing onto American shores every day. A refugee from Somalia, Ilyas says, “I want to be that dissenting voice. I want my education to go into that voice screaming ‘Reform!’ And I want my degree to reflect that. If I cannot be that person in the courts arguing social cases, I want to be the one hearing them. Or the man teaching our children that these cases exist and these social injustices still thrive.”


19, 1700 block of East 26th Street, a sophomore at Penn State University, Main Campus, with a GPA of 2.73. He is majoring in hotel and restaurant management. He was born in Somalia, moved to Kenya when he was four, and eventually, moved with his family to the United States while still a child. “I am looking forward to opening my own business after I graduate from college. I was majoring in biology…and though my career goals have changed, I still have the ambition to help others in whatever I can do for them. What do I want to do with my college education? I want to go back to my country. This is a must for me because I really miss the rest of my family; they are the ones who give me that extra push when I am down. Meanwhile, for me, college is “keeping the hope alive.”


18, 2400 block of West 24th Street, a graduate of Strong Vincent High School with a GPA of 3.8. She plans to become a lawyer. Her family, including her sister, Elsa, another current scholarship winner, moved to the United State from Ethiopia about 12 years ago. Coming to the United States has given me many opportunities to better my life. I am currently a housekeeper at Saint Vincent Health Center and will keep that job until my career comes into play. Coming from a very poor country has given me a better outlook on what to strive for in my life. Giving back to those who are in need will be one of my goals, because if people had not given help to me, I could not be where I am today.”


20, 1900 block of Bird Drive, a sophomore at Penn State Erie, the Behrend College with a GPA of 2.05. Faduma was born in Somalia, lived in India for 11 years, and then moved to the United States where she and her family have lived for six years. “I have hopes of either becoming a pediatrician or a child psychologist. Ever since I was a little girl I have always looked up to my aunt, who is an obstetrician. Because of her, it has always been my dream to pursue a degree within the medical field. Above all else, no matter what I do, I would like to help people. My college degree will allow me to help the people of my homeland of Somalia by taking care of the sick and homeless children who need medical care.”


17, 400 block of Huron Street, a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Northwest PA Collegiate Academy with a GPA of 4.0. She is considering becoming a doctor, “to become someone who is able to touch the lives of others.” She will take courses toward that goal and also plans to pursue a degree in business, most likely a minor degree, at the University of Rochester. “The truth is, I haven’t found my passion yet,” she says. “And that’s why I grasp onto college as my sole means of finding that passion. Because I know that college isn’t just about getting a degree and then moving into the work force of America. I know that college is the intellect’s sanctuary where passions are awakened and dreams are realized. A college education to me is the key to finding what I want to do with my future.”


19, 400 block of Huron Street, An-Hoa’s sister, is also a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Northwest PA Collegiate Academy with a GPA of 4.67. As a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, “My goal of becoming a computer engineer has yet to change. Engineers are responsible for taking something that works and making it faster and better in all respects – whether it be more structurally sound, such as the streets on which we drive or the buildings we live in, or making things just visibly appealing, such as automobiles. This, in essence, is what I plan to do with my college education. More specifically, as a computer engineer, I will be looking forward to things such as programming and maintaining the functionality of hardware parts. Working to better educate future generations about the importance of computers and how much they’ve changed our lives is one of my many intended occupational goals.”


20, 1400 block of West 24th Street, a sophomore at Penn State University, Main Campus, with a GPA of 2.8. Originally from Ethiopia, she is at present an undeclared major. She’s not undecided, though, about the fact that “I plan to use college as a resource for all my needs in life and to do only the right things in life. I plan to use my college education for a career that will make me happy and that will make my life easier in the long run. I want to be an asset to other teenagers and students in high school and let them know that college is a great thing – and to let them know they should go for all the right reasons. We go to college to do something big with our lives.”