By Polly Keary, Editor
A young Monroe woman who just got accepted to her dream college with the help of Monroe supporters now wants to help other students achieve their dreams, too.
So Taylor Gese, 17, of Monroe High School, has started the Imagine Scholarship, and is looking for donors to help fund it.
Gese has dreamed of a career in the music business since she was a young child. Never thinking such a thing would be possible, she looked into an education at the Berklee School of Music, one of the most expensive and exclusive music colleges in the world.
And then she looked at the even-more-expensive New York University, which has a music business program, perfect for her goal of working in entertainment management.
“That’s been my dream college for ever,” she said.
The school had a summer program. Gese had no reason to think she could go. It was far away, expensive, and only a fraction of the applicants to the summer program were accepted.
But she took $50 of her own money and applied without telling a soul.
“One day I got an email that said, congratulations, you’ve been accepted,” Gese said. “I started crying.”
She had only three weeks to come up with $2,000.
In tears, she left her math class and found her favorite teacher, Stanton Giles, and explained her situation.
“He said, I’ll figure something out, but you have to work at it too,” Gese said.
Giles told principal John Lombardi and Monroe Public Schools Foundation director Sue Skillen about Gese’s predicament, and the foundation awarded her a $500 scholarship.
Gese was also a member of the Next Step program, a program that carefully shepherds exceptional students through their last two years of high school, helping them tailor their academic careers to maximize their chances of acceptance to good colleges.
Her Next Step mentors, both members of the Monroe Rotary Club, invited her to present her story at a club luncheon.
Thanks to the generosity of the members, she ended up not only with tuition, but travel expenses and a little spending money, too.
“I got on a plane and went to New York, and it was the greatest experience,” said Gese. “I was a different human being when I came back.”
With the summer program on her resume along with a strong academic and public service record, she applied to NYU. Only 23 percent of applicants are accepted, and Taylor was not only among them, she was awarded $32,000 a year in scholarships.
She will start in the fall, and when she talks about the campus, the city and the tradition of arts in Greenwich Village in which the college is located, she becomes a bit giddy at the fabulousness of it all.
One of the most fabulous things she saw when she was in New York was the memorial to John Lennon that marks the site where he died.
So when she thought of creating a scholarship to help other students along, she decided to call it the Imagine Scholarship, partly to honor the legendary musician, and partly because she wants to help students achieve the brightest future they can imagine.
To achieve that goal, she created the scholarship through the Monroe Public Schools Foundation, which acts as a hub for many local scholarships.
“Student should have a big dream in mind without the means to get there or have had experienced hardship and persevered through it,” reads the scholarship description. “Drive, motivation and passion should be evident in their application. Should be very passionate about their bright future.”
On the same page is a link for people to click if they wish to help fund the scholarship.
Gese hopes to raise $500 for a student this year; equal to the amount the foundation gave her as she embarked on her long-shot dream.
“Monroe is incredible, how it treated me,” she said.
To donate to the Imagine Scholarship Fund, visit: http://www.monroepsf.org/core/scholarships/Imagine.html.