Meet Our Latest OppU Achiever: Anthony O’Leary!
Name: Anthony O’Leary
High School: Kearny High School Digital Media & Design
Expected College Graduation Date: June 2023
Expected Major: Management/Public Relations
We’re pleased to announce our next scholarship recipient—an inspiring student who overcame adversity to find his voice.
The next recipient of the $2,500 OppU Achievers Scholarship, Anthony O’Leary, found his voice amidst a difficult period in the foster care system. Now, he works to ensure that other foster youth can reclaim their own voices.
As a speaker with Voices for Children, Anthony is spreading awareness about a program that changed his own life. Voices for Children is a multi-issue advocacy organization dedicated to helping foster care youth navigate the system with the help of a court appointed special advocate (CASA). CASAs act as neutral people in the jumble of social workers and court proceedings, and they can have a big impact supporting their foster youth. Anthony’s CASA, Daniel, was one of these people. He came into Anthony’s life at a tumultuous point. Through Daniel’s outgoing demeanor he became a trusted adult—able to ensure that Anthony’s voice was being heard. Voices for Children provides plenty of volunteer opportunities, especially within Anthony’s San Diego community, and so he eagerly joined.
Speaking publicly at fundraisers and other events, Anthony has become a representative of sorts on behalf of other foster youth. However, his journey to find his voice wasn’t an easy one.
While in the foster care system, Anthony didn’t feel like his voice was being heard. He felt silenced while major decisions about his life were left to social workers and other adults. Who would have guessed that a few years later he’d reclaim his voice and be speaking on a public platform as a youth leader?
One of the benefits of joining Voices for Children is their public speaking class. Anthony was terrified of speaking in front of large crowds, so he enrolled in the week-long training program to practice his introduction and learn how to respond to common questions asked of panelists. Beyond improving his speaking abilities, the training benefited Anthony in his social life and in English class.
How does Anthony balance school, sports, and service work? Lots of prioritization. While difficult at first, he soon realized that in order to accomplish certain goals he must rank commitments. For example, he favors attending speaking events even if it means missing basketball practice.
Looking toward the future, Anthony has big plans for the next four years.
Brimming with nerves and excitement for the college application cycle, Anthony knows that college will be a life-changing experience. While he hasn’t settled on a dream school yet, he has toured a few campuses in Texas and California offering sports management degrees. Eventually, he’d like to bring his skills and dedication back to his San Diego community, volunteer, and even become a CASA himself, noting that he knows firsthand how much of an impact they can make in a foster child’s life.
Anthony discovered young that the challenges he faced only made him a stronger person.
When he reflects on where he started and the opportunities that have opened up to him since, Anthony finds himself at a loss for words. The young boy that used music as a getaway now wants to take advantage of a world of possibility to bring hope to other kids. One goal is establishing a studio for foster youth to express their innermost feelings through music.
“Without it—all of the different things I’ve struggled with in life—I don’t think I would be where I am, honestly,” he said.
He views his early life as the catalyst that molded him into who he is—a thoughtful, mature, and passionate young man.
Could you or someone you know use $2,500 for tuition? The OppU Achievers Scholarship is awarded quarterly to high school seniors, college students, graduate students, and students in trade or professional programs. To apply, submit a short essay through our web portal.
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