Rosie (Rosina) was born July 19, 1917. She was the youngest of five children born to Joseph and Mary Tornetta. Joseph and Mary were born in a little village outside of Palermo, Sicily. Throughout her life Rosie was proud of her baby blue eyes. She often wondered aloud "where did I get these blue eyes"
Like most immigrants in those days, Rosie's parents were poor. However, they instilled their family values, fervent faith in God and the value of education, in their children. The language spoken in the Tornetta home was Italian. Upon entering first grade Rosie spoke strictly Italian. Her mother found it vital for Rosie to learn English. She would learn English during the day, and teach this new language to her family in the evening. At an early age Rosie knew, success in life could only be achieved with education. Rosie was not a CEO of a company. She was simply a devoted daughter, loving wife, mother and doting grandma. Rosie was very proud of her son's NYFD accomplishments.
Rosie never stopped extolling the necessity of education for everyone. Rosie passed away in 1996 but left her special insight on everyone she knew. In her honor, her son Joseph Higgins Jr. will enhance the scholarship award for the highest SAT score each year.
Jennifer Marcello-Murphy was a 26-year-old woman who loved being with people and making them laugh. She had a spirit that could not be suppressed. At age 10 she was the only girl on an all boys' soccer team. She owned every Billy Joel album and was an avid New York Yankees' fan. Jennifer was also a talented artist and spent much of her free time drawing.
Jennifer graduated St. John's University and became an elementary school teacher. She made learning fun for her students and always made them feel good about themselves. She loved her students and they loved her.
At 24, and three weeks before her wedding, Jennifer was diagnosed with cancer. She refused to let her illness disrupt the most important day of her life, and her wedding went on as planned. Although Jenn & her husband Andy had a short time together they made the best of the time they had.
Throughout the most difficult days of her illness Jennifer managed to smile and find things to be grateful for. She showed incredible courage and wisdom for someone her age. And she never asked, "Why me?" What Jenn did ask was that she not be forgotten. And that is why this award is so special to us.
Congratulations to the recipient of this award. May your spirit and courage enable you to find happiness and lead you to the fulfillment of your dreams.
The Marcello Family