"I couldn't think of a talent," she wrote. "The only thing I was confident of was that I would not be up on that stage and be a part of the show. That was heart-breaking to a fourth-grader."
The teacher became overwhelmed with the details, however, and she asked Hostetler to be her assistant.
"I had not taken anything so seriously in my previous 10 years on Earth," she wrote. "Every recess and lunch for three weeks, I spent with Mrs. Coon working on the show. Even though I didn't have a traditional talent to perform, I discovered a passion in me — and a talent — for organizing an event. It probably wasn't a common passion for a fourth-grader, but I was hooked!"
In high school, Hostetler served as a student representative on the Newport-Mesa Unified School District board.
"It made me realize that I also like being involved with the big picture side of things," she wrote. "Looking to the future, I plan on continuing to be a student leader in the organizations that I join on my college campus."
Stefano's essay described transferring to Harbor View from a private school in fourth grade and how her teachers' sensitivity and patience instilled the ability and desire to help others.
"With this, I soon became a club president at my high school who is dedicated to helping the less fortunate children of Mexico," she wrote.
In August, Stefano was recognized as Volunteer of the Year by Corazon de Vida for her work.
"Attending elementary school at Harbor View has taught me bravery, confidence, and it has given me the knowledge I need to build a successful life for myself," Stefano wrote. "I believe that the foundation you are given as a child will carry you for the rest of your life, and I am very proud to have built mine at Harbor View Elementary."
Stefano plans to attend Texas Christian University in the fall, with major in business and minor in nutrition in the honors college.
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