Defying the Odds Scholarship Dinner: Student Keynote Address

Have you ever had to step over a pool of blood on the sidewalk in front of your house? 

I was only 17 years old when I heard a panicked cry for help coming from outside. I slowly looked out the window to examine any potential danger when I saw him. A middle-aged man holding his bloody neck and screaming, “Help Me!”  Faint grunts followed as his mouth began to fill with blood. He left a bloody path behind him as he stumbled toward the middle of the road. When the police arrived they rushed over to the man and applied pressure on his neck to stop the bleeding. 

Later, a K-9 Unit vehicle rushed dogs into the woods after the attacker and slowly they disappeared into the darkness. But, it was too late the damage had been done. I closed the blinds and proceeded to lay down. I couldn’t feel anything. Violence was a reality in Newburgh, New York. One I had become accustomed to for a long time.

Good Afternoon, my name is Jack Ivan Minano, and I could not be happier to have graduated from San Miguel Academy of Newburgh in 2018. This program was an escape from the cycle of gangs, drugs, and death that had entrapped the youth around me. As a kid, I thought that the dozens of memorials scattered around the streets of Newburgh were normal. The daily gunfire, the nightly screams, and altercations never fazed me. 

It wasn’t until I arrived at San Miguel that I was made aware of the dire situation I was in. I was inspired by their mission, “Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Through Education”. 

San Miguel Academy was the only one in the community that cared to make a difference in my life. This inspired me to take my education seriously, and my goal was to get a college education. I understood that my actions would transform the future of my family and community. 

I can be the inspiration for the next generation of youth in Newburgh. As I matured in the program, I grasped every opportunity I had to challenge myself in both math and science to be able to attend a reputable highschool. Upon graduation from San Miguel Academy, the opportunity I longed for arose when I was accepted to Fordham Preparatory School in the Bronx. 

The most important thing that I learned from Fordham Prep was determination. Finish what you started. From the start, my journey into Fordham Prep wasn’t easy, literally. I had to commute about 2 hours by train to the Bronx and 2 hours back every day, plus the car ride home. Each day was a struggle but I always stayed determined because I knew this was my only shot to break free from the cycle of poverty. No high schools in my district could give me the opportunities or level of education Fordham Prep had. 

When the pandemic hit the country and forced everything into lockdown, I switched to virtual learning. Because of the circumstances, I had to take care of both my 2-year-old sister and 4-year-old brother while having virtual classes. But, even still I was able to adapt and maintain my grades at my normal level. My experiences during my four years at Fordham Prep cemented my determination, discipline, and powerful work ethic which was seeded at San Miguel Academy.

I am forever grateful for the inspiration I received from San Miguel Academy to take this daring journey. The quality of education I received there and at Fordham Prep have been priceless. Each molded me into the person I am today. And thanks to them I was accepted into the New York University Stern School of Business; one of the most prestigious business schools in the entire world.

Thank you for your generosity. Without your help, most of us would have never been able to unveil our true potential. 

San Miguel Academy is truly the light in the city of Newburgh. It is the only place where kids like me, who are pre-destined for failure, have an opportunity to change not only their own future but the future of their family. And it is only possible because of you. Thank You.

Finally, I’d like to close with a prayer that I used every day as a Fordham Prep student. It is called the St. Ignatius Prayer for Generosity. 

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing I do your will.  Amen

-Jack Minano

San Miguel Academy ’18
Fordham Preparatory School ’22
New York University Leonard N. School of Business ’26

San Miguel Program Scholarship Dinner
September 29, 2022
Westchester County Club