Troy High Alum Speaks to New Sponsor-A-Scholar Inductees

In late May, we welcomed our new class of Scholars at Troy High School. Scholars brought family members young and old to join in the festivities.

Troy City School District Superintendent John Carmelo and Troy High School Principal Joseph Mariano, Jr. also applauded our new inductees. The keynote speaker, Miguel Roel is a 2010 graduate of Troy High School and a member of Skidmore College's class of 2014. He is currently studying to earn his masters in teaching.

Miguel's remarks transfixed the crowd, and he was gracious enough to share them with us (below).

"The transition from high school to college was more than a little rough for me. Not only did I have new, higher, academic standards to live up to, but the social setting was entirely alien to me. Up to that point, I had spent most of my life in the least affluent parts of the cities I lived in, and most of my friends were from a similar background. At Skidmore, however, I was surrounded by people whom I found it a bit difficult to relate to. While working at the dining hall, I would overhear conversations from my fellow students (whose food I was serving) about the new cars their parents had gotten delivered to campus for them, or how shopping at high end clothes stores was their primary form of stress relief. I remember hearing one student say to her friend, while I dished some spaghetti onto her plate, “I don’t know what I’d do without shopping. I have to spend, like, at least $1,000 a month on new clothes or else I just feel incomplete.” I did eventually find my place at Skidmore, and made friends whom I hope to keep for the rest of my life, as well as finding my lovely fiance. 

In the meantime, however, I found relief from this somewhat alienating social environment through Skidmore’s diverse and open academic atmosphere. It was a true liberal arts college, in every sense of the phrase. From film­making, to drawing, to historical document analysis, and printmaking, I made it my mission to take as many courses from as many different departments as I possibly could while I was there, and ended up with a double­minor and a specialized major. The help I received from Sponsor a Scholar was an invaluable resource to me for realizing this goal. From the academic support and study skills I learned during my time in High School at the Thursday after­school sessions, to the financial support I was granted by Sponsor a Scholar throughout college, I think it’s safe to say that, without this support, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The Sponsor-A-Scholar stipend was often a lifeline that saved me from situations that could have, otherwise, put the course of my whole education into jeopardy. From emergency car and computer repairs, last-­minute art supply runs, to groceries when money was short at home, I really have no idea how I could have made ends meet without the generous support of Sponsor-A-Scholar. 

One aspect of the program, however, that is much harder to put a price ­tag on ­­despite being equally, if not more, valuable ­­is the mentorship. Andy Rooney once said that “The best classroom in the world is at the feet of our elders,” and my experience with my mentors, Larry and Marie Shore, is proof of that. Through my adventures with Larry and Marie, I was introduced to music that I’d never heard before (and which I still listen to on a nearly daily basis), experiences with art, nature, and local culture that I never would have had the fortune of finding without their prompting and support. When discussing education and social service, we often ignore that which does not contribute to a well­-defined and easily demonstrable goal. The mentorship program, while not explicitly aiding the academic or financial goals of the program, proved to have the largest effect on my sense of purpose, social values, and personal interests. 

Thank you, Larry and Marie Shore, for your guidance and mentorship, and thank you to everyone who helps make Sponsor a Scholar a continuing reality for our students."

Miguel Roel, Troy Induction Keynote May 26, 2016