In addition to commencement activities and prom, two graduating Greeley seniors Fiona Dubrosa and Will Gregson will also make a trip to Washington DC this coming June to win the prestigious Gold Medal Congressional Award.
The non-partisan, voluntary award created in 1979 is Congress’ highest honor for young Americans. Currently there are more than 50,000 young people across the United States working to obtain Congressional awards. This year, only seven students from across New York State earned the coveted Gold Medal.
In order to obtain the Gold Medal, both Dubrosa and Gregson had to complete several hundred hours in four distinct program areas: 1) voluntary service 2) personal development 3) physical fitness and 4) exploration/expedition.
Cumulatively, each recipient had to complete 800 hours for the first three program components and spend a minimum of five days/four nights on an expedition or exploratory trip. Both Gregson and Dubrosa have participated in the program since they were 13 and have won Congressional certificates and medals in past years but the Gold Medal program is the most time-consuming and rigorous.
Dubrosa has spent numerous hours volunteering for Manhattan-based Legal Momentum, an organization that is dedicated to improving the lives of women through law and policy. She also has helped out various local organizations including the Chappaqua Library, the Westchester Food Bank, Greeley’s Relay for Life program and has tutored students at Mount Kisco elementary school.
Gregson initially began volunteering at Hawthorne Cedar Knolls Goldsmith Center, a residential treatment center for children ages 8-18 as part of a Bar Mitzvah project through UJA-Federation with his friends. A former junior varsity and varsity Greeley basketball player, he would shoot hoops with the children there and help celebrate their birthdays.
“We were nervous at first because these kids came from very rough backgrounds. The children were there because their parents couldn’t take care of them usually because of drug abuse. We thought it was important for these kids to trust people again and build a sense of community for them,” said Gregson, who worked with these children for many years and developed personal relationships with them. He now acts as a speaker on behalf of the program to motivate other Westchester teens to become involved with the center.
In terms of the personal development component for the award, Dubrosa and Gregson took very different paths to complete the required hours. Dubrosa focused on her leadership and acting skills. She participated in the Hugh O’Brien Youth (HOBY) Leadership program and was thrilled to meet other teenagers from as far away as Turkey and France at the HOBY World Congress who “all have a desire to improve the world.”
A budding actress, Dubrosa took drama classes at the renowned Lee Strasberg Institute, the Neighborhood Playhouse and A Class Act, all in Manhattan. Gregson took a different approach to personal development by improving his basketball skills and starting his own business called Home Alone Management Services, LLC which provides home management support when people are away from home. As the consummate entrepreneur, he also offers basketball training to local children as a second business.
Dubrosa, who trains with the O’Sullivan School for Irish Dancing in Brewster, enjoyed completing the physical fitness component. She regularly competes in regional, national and world championships for Irish dancing.
Both Dubrosa and Gregson also completed difficult expeditions to achieve their hours in this area. Dubrosa participated in a one week Outward Bound kayaking trip on the Chesapeake Bay where she averaged 10-15 miles of kayaking per day. Gregson chose to go on a camping trip with his friends from Greeley to Bryce Canyon in Utah. He found the trip fun but especially challenging when his tent became sopping wet during a terrible storm. He had to re-pitch his tent with his friends at 3 a.m., but ultimately decided that it was “a really good bonding experience because you learn how to deal with each other in stressful situations.”
Both students credit their parents as strong mentors. Dubrosa also has an older sister, Maddie, who won the Gold Congressional Award previously. Dubrosa commented that several Greeley teachers have been instrumental in motivating her including Mr. Wong (mathematics), Mrs. Mosca (social studies) and Ms. Towle (biology).
Dubrosa and Gregson are looking forward to visiting the nation’s capital and meeting other Congressional gold medalists. “By incorporating all four aspects of the Congressional award into your life, you become a better person out of it,” summed up Gregson. Dubrosa will attend Carnegie Mellon University and Gregson will start a dual-degree program at Syracuse University this fall.