Ooooh, Ooooh! Pick ME! Pick ME!

Well, I spent all day yesterday working on the rough draft of the essay for my grant application.  Very rough Draft.

For some reason, I feel completely inadequate as a writer right now… maybe because the stakes are so high.  I spent most of last night beating myself up about my short-comings.

I am about 450 words short of the limit, so there is room for further elaboration where needed.

I need your help!

I need to know what I should write more about, and what I should remove.  I know that I need to work on smoother transitions between subjects.  I also haven’t written the conclusion yet.  I thought I would do those things last, once I know what is staying and what is going.

Obviously, the Clay Matthews shout out is just comic relief for me right now, and will probably be the first to go.  I put in in there as a joke, really.  Also, the future alumni headline is probably unnecessary, unless you all think it will help me stand out among other contestants.

Your honest feedback will be greatly appreciated…..

Please see the essay requirements listed below, and the draft immediately following the row of stars.

  • Tell us a little about yourself, your family, and your current situation
  • Tell is a little about your past, your challenges, and your accomplishments
  • Explain why a college education is important to you and your children
  • What are your career goals? Describe what career you wish to pursue and why.
  • Explain how you think the program will make a positive difference for you and your children
  • Describe your strongest characteristics
  • Have you volunteered in the community?  Describe the types of service experiences you have had.
  • Explain how you can give back to the community through volunteer-ism, if you become a participant.
  • Why should we select you, over all the other competing candidates?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My name is Brenda Marie Tucci.  I am 34 years old, and have two wonderful children… an 8 year old daughter and a 4 year old son.  I am raising them completely on my own.  I was never married to either of their fathers, and am not receiving financial support from either of them.

I am the oldest of 9 children, and grew up as a missionary kid in the heart of Mexico.  I learned Spanish at a young age, and still speak the language fluently.  My family returned to the U.S when I was 17 years old.  We discovered shortly thereafter that my Mother was suffering the final stages of breast cancer.  She was pregnant with her 8th child at the time, and managed to fight for her life until it was safe for baby Danielle to be born.  6 weeks later, Mom passed away.

Watching my Father struggle with his own grief in addition to the burden of raising 8 kids on his own, including a newborn and a toddler, was my first experience with single parenting at its rawest state.  I was studying at the University of Wisconsin-Washington County at the time, and quit school to stay home and help my Dad with the kids.  I was also no longer eligible for financial aid because of Mom’s life insurance pay-out.  This was another reason I had to quit school.

My dad got re-married 14 years ago.  The transition to a new woman in the house was difficult for me… so I left home and began my own journey of self discovery.

This journey led me in many directions… eventually landing me in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I joined Jackson Park Ministries, a  Christian organization in one of the poorest areas of the city.  We operated a community center that served as a hang out for the young people in the neighborhood. The ministry offered everything from food and clothing distribution, after school tutoring and basketball leagues, to financial counseling and an innovative transitional housing program.

During this period of my life, I had the opportunity to partner with a local elementary school and participate in helping educate children from Spanish speaking homes.  I shadowed two kindergarten teachers several days a week, and held one-on-one tutoring sessions with children who until a few months before had never heard the English language before.  This was one of the most rewarding experiences of the time I spent at Jackson Park.

When my time at Jackson Park had ended, I decided to stay in Charlotte, and got a “real job”…. I built my life there.  After a lifetime of being sheltered and doing good things for others, I experienced a bit of a rebellion that ended up lasting for several years. I went through a phase of “sowing my wild oats”, so to speak… which eventually got me pregnant with my daughter.

My unplanned pregnancy was the best thing that ever happened to me.  It knocked the wind out of my restless lifestyle, and forced me to become responsible for my actions.  I bought a house, and began my life as mother and sole provider to the most beautiful little girl in the world.

When my daughter was still a baby, I responded to an ad in my church’s bulletin, which was looking for volunteers to play piano for a local nursing home on Sunday mornings.  This ad revived an old passion inside of my heart that I have always had for ministering to the elderly.  I began visiting this nursing home every Sunday morning, where I accompanied a group of aging angels in wheelchairs, singing their hearts out to old school hymns… their all -time favorite was “Victory in Jesus!” .   I think that my favorite part was helping the nurses retrieve the residents from their rooms… telling them it was “time for church”, and seeing the delight in their faces that someone was going out of their way to visit their world, even if just for a few hours.  I did this every week for 4 years.

The loneliness of being a single mother led me to one more bad judgment call in my personal life, which resulted in another unplanned pregnancy 5 years ago.  The baby’s father was abusive… verbally and emotionally… and showed all the signs of becoming physically abusive if I did not get out of the situation immediately.  Thankfully, he left me for another woman, and made my “escape” quite simple, actually.

It was after my son’s birth that I decided to leave everything I had built for myself in Charlotte, and come home to Wisconsin… where I could raise my children in a safe environment… with the support of my family.

It has been a challenge for me to carry on a career while supporting two children.  Nevertheless, I have learned so much over the years… about survival, hard work, and rising above your circumstances… no matter what they are.

I have recently discovered a new passion ~ Domestic Violence Awareness.  I have learned that in most cases, women choose to stay with or return to their abusers out of fear…. Fear that they will not be able to make it on their own.

I see my own life as a testament that these women CAN make it on their own.

I want to take my own experiences, and use them to encourage others.

17 years after graduating high school, I finally know what I want to be “when I grow up”…. A Social Advocate.  I want to help people… People who are in crisis and abandoned by our society… the elderly… the poor… the abused… the handicapped… the orphans… the widows… the addicts.

I realize that in order to effectively build a career in this field and help people to the best of my abilities,  I must be properly educated on social issues.

I would love to be considered for the Working Families Grant.  As my children’s sole provider, receiving a grant of this magnitude is the only way I will ever be able to fulfill the dream of obtaining my degree in Social Work.

I am a hard worker and a dedicated student, even under stress.  I maintained a GPA of 3.418 at UWWC during the term immediately following my Mom’s death.  I am one of those nerdy people that actually LOVES school.  I love the thrill of staying up all night working on a term paper.  The mere idea of being a student again gives me as many butterflies as seeing Clay Matthews flex his muscles after a sack.

My strongest characteristics are compassion, dedication, generosity, confidence, and endurance… in addition to a great sense of humor.

Bill Cosby once said :

“You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, You can survive it.”

I believe that my life is a testament of the truth in this statement.  I have also discovered the art of blogging in recent years, and have found that writing about my life as a single parent helps me cope with it.  People tell me that I am a great writer, and that I should write a book.  Maybe I will, one day.  I can see the Alumni Newsletter headlines now:

M. University Graduate builds successful career as Social Advocate and writes memoir about her own experience as a single parent who was able to take her own life experiences and use them to help others… in a recent interview, Ms. Tucci credited the prestigious ‘Working Families Grant’ for giving her the education required to launch her profession.  The countless women and children she has helped over the years are forever indebted to the opportunity she was given in the spring of 2011.”

I honestly wish that I had more experience as a volunteer in the community.

My passion for working with the elderly has always been a huge part of my life.  I began visiting nursing homes as a child, and continued throughout my youth and young adult life. I believe that this generation is one that should be cherished instead of forgotten.  These are individuals who have lived through the past 80-90 years of our history… witnessed it firsthand.  They have so many stories to tell, if people would just take the time to sit and listen to them.   I also enjoy reading aloud to them.  I think that the most important aspect of working with the elderly is making them feel valued.

I also have a special place in my heart for underprivileged children.  It seems that since becoming a single parent, I have been on the receiving end of community service more than the giving one.  “Big Brothers / Big Sisters” and the “Boys and Girls Club” have played major roles in my daughter’s recent upbringing.  I credit these organizations for much of my own child’s positive development over the past few years.  I would love the opportunity to give back to the community through programs like those.

I discovered the Lion’s Club a few months ago, and am considering becoming a member in order to become more involved with serving my community.

It is difficult for me to attempt convincing you to choose ME over other applicants, because I am sure that there are many other deserving women out there.

However, I doubt that you will find another applicant possessing as much drive as I do!  If I am not able to make ‘the short list” this year, I will try again next year… and the year after that, etc.,   Until I am accepted into the program.

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Ooooh, Ooooh! Pick ME! Pick ME!

  1. Joanie

    Great job Brenda. I have to admit that I laughed out loud when I read the line about Clay Matthews but you probably do need to leave it out. I’d also leave out the Alumni newsletter piece although I really had to think about that one for a while.
    I love your writing skills. I feel like the two of us are at my kitchen table and you are telling me your story.
    Keep it up, there are great things in store for you.

  2. Nancy

    I did not devour this for lack of time but if I were you I would really sing the praises of your mothers efforts as a home school parent. Describe how you were given a classical education and your love of literature is a direct result of that. Colleges actually respect home schooled students if you describe in detail what your school day was like etc.. How it influences your parenting and your frequent trips to the public library.

  3. Tina Tuna

    Brenda, it’s wonderful. I had to google Clay, but I guess they would know him, but maybe you should delete it. I would also suggest you don’t use the word nerdy. I don’t think it’s nerdy to love school. I would be a full-time student my whole life if I could. I love learning new things, and being a student is so much easier than working! Maybe you can say, “I love being in an academic environment and with all of its challenges.” Just a suggestion. It really is a great read. It is evidence of your honesty and forthrightness, as well as giving insight into who you really are, a wonderfully bright and caring woman.

  4. bridget tucci

    good work Brenda! i will be sure to email you with comments on the essay…but in general, it is really good.

  5. trendyand2kids

    Thanks Everyone, for all your input and support!
    So many of you sent me emails and edits… I have a much clearer idea of what I want to say now.
    I am taking ALL of your pointers into serious consideration as I send my revised version this weekend to the “Little Thinker”, Brittany Pheiffer, for her professional editorial expertise…
    It won’t be long before I am Back in the Blogging Saddle.

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