On December 8 of last year, Revere High School graduating senior Adrianna Fusco was making a gingerbread house and was covered in frosting when she got the most important phone call of her life.
“I had to immediately get on a zoom call and started crying as soon as I heard the news,” she said.
The call was from the admissions office at Union College in Schenectady, New York offering Adrianna a full four-year academic scholarship–one of only 10 that the school handed out to graduates from the Class of 2021 across the country.
“I couldn’t believe that I was one of the 10 people to get such an amazing opportunity to go to such a great school,” she said.
Adrianna, who interned last summer for the Neurology Research Program at MGH. said she chose to accept the Union College scholarship because it is an amazing school for women interested in the STEM field and had so many great programs and clubs.
“When I researched all four schools-Bucknell, Union, Byrn Mawr, and Centre-I was immediately drawn to Union due to the support they gave to their students,” she said. “It is a small school and is very focused on doing right by their students.”
As a Posse Scholar and intern for neuropsychologist Yakeel Quiroz-Gaviria, PhD last summer Adrianna plans to study to become a neurologist at Union.
“Over the summer, I was lucky enough to be a part of the Neurology Research Program at MGH,” said Adrianna. “Dr. Quiroz- Gaviria was an amazing mentor. She taught me how to be assertive in such a male dominated career and taught me so much about the field of neurology. I will forever be grateful for everything she has done for me and she will always be one of my role models. With Dr. Quiroz-Gaviria, I was able to explore more careers in neurology and hear about the amazing stories of healthcare professionals. I was also able to conduct research of my own relating to the topic of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Adrianna said furthering research into Alzheimer’s disease has been extremely important to her since losing her great-grandmother to the disease when she was 14.
“My great-grandmother, Phylis Gaglione, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when I was around 11 years old,” she said. “As the disease progressed, she began to forget about me and it was heartbreaking to watch her slowly change in front of my eyes. She died when I was 14 and ever since then, I have wanted to become a neurologist. Specifically, I want to cure Alzheimer’s disease. My great-grandmother is my motivation and the reason I am where I am today. Everything I do is for her.”
Obviously the pandemic has had an impact on many students’ junior and senior years. At a time when many students are starting to gear up for college Adrianna said she coped by understanding safety was more important than anything.
“Although I was upset with missing out on the amazing activities, like prom and our last pep rally, I knew that this was bigger than all of that,” she said. “The health and safety of my fellow classmates, teachers, and everyone else in the school system was more important. I made sure to keep on the school schedule. I attended every single class and made sure I made every deadline. I kept my eyes on the prize and took advantage of every opportunity I received, such as the Youth Ambassadors Program at MGH. Working for MGH during this tough time kept me busy and I am grateful to have had that.”
As for her experience at RHS and Revere Public Schools Adrianna said there were many mentors that inspired her along the way.
“There are so many teachers who have helped me throughout my journey over the last 13 years,” said Adrianna. “Some of them taught me how to laugh, like Mr. Dimarino and Mr. West. Some taught me how to deal with adversity, like Mr. Carlson and Mr. Papigorikas. Some were mentors who helped me develop into the student I am today, like Ms. Szymanski and Mr. Alba. Every teacher has helped me in their own way, become who I am today and I cannot thank them enough for everything they have done for me in and out of the classroom.”
With the pandemic slowing down Adrianna said she really looks forward to starting college life in a different state and gave some good advice to underclassmen.
“I am really looking forward to meeting new people and expanding my horizons,” she said. “I have lived in Revere all my life and I am excited to see a bit more of the world. I can’t wait to explore Schenectady and see what the world has to offer. I just want every other student to take advantage of every opportunity given to them and to make sure they know of every opportunity out there. There are so many opportunities in the world such as scholarships, internships, jobs, etc. that they can get if they just reach out and ask. Remember to have fun in high school and that all you can do is your best. Be yourself and don’t let anyone dictate who you are or what you can do.”