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Big Heart Scholarship

Funded by
Picture of the donor
Gentile Family
1 winner$2,825
Application Deadline
May 3, 2024
Winners Announced
May 24, 2024
Education Level
High School
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Bethel Park High School
Education Level:
High school

Jonathan Gentile lived his life to the fullest, while supporting his friends and community as much as he could. 

Despite having died in a kayaking accident at the age of 37, his kindness and happy-go-lucky demeanor will live on forever through those he has impacted and through this scholarship. The Gentile Family believes that having a big heart is one of the most important things for the world right now. The Big Heart Scholarship will be given to a student based on their character, rather than GPA or athletic involvement, supporting students who put others first and are kind, inclusive, and spread joy.

High school students are eligible to apply if they attend Bethel Park High School and have a big heart for helping others. To apply, write about how you help others and work to create a more inclusive environment at your school.

Selection Criteria:
Published December 4, 2023
Essay Topic

Please share how you've helped others and made choices from your heart to create a safer and more inclusive atmosphere for yourself and your peers.

400–600 words

Winning Application

Jacob Kalogeris
Bethel Park High SchoolBETHEL PARK, PA
Getting-to-know-you assignments at the start of a school year will inevitably ask students to describe themselves using three words, to which they will almost always respond with “kind.” This word has become ordinary and generic, often presented as merely a filler. Yet, this short, common word has an abundance of meaning that not all people on planet earth have the ability to capture. Its true beauty goes beyond being nice: a requirement is to have a big heart that will aid our loved ones with their challenges, make them feel included, and demonstrate to them our love. In my 18 years of life, I’ve always used a full heart to provide my peers with senses of accomplishment and worthiness—acting on the true definition of kindness. A big heart positively impacts all people, but it has the power to gravitate toward people who need a void filled. I’ve felt my heart pull itself to people who face the void of loneliness. I would argue that loneliness has been an epidemic since the beginning of time; however, we do almost nothing to combat it. Therefore, I’ve always been passionate about being the friend where a friend is needed. For instance, a school trip to Myrtle Beach will be filled with masses of cliques, but not everyone will be able to find themselves in one. Without hesitation, I chose to approach and talk to the girl who sat alone by the poolside, surrounded by other friend groups that generate excluded feelings. Or a teacher may assign a group project, where I quickly notice the boy who walks around the classroom helplessly looking for partners. With no doubt, I invite him to join my group. This aspect of my heart always fills me with passion. I have been lonely frequently in my life, and I know that no one—regardless of who they are—deserves to feel this way. Loneliness causes utmost sadness, yet inclusion brings out ultimate happiness. The true definition of kindness will always have the power to liberate the feeling of dejection. While combating loneliness is an unconditional factor of a big heart, comforting our peers is of equal importance. Not many have the ability to comfortably open up about their struggles; those that find the courage deserve to be heard—and my big heart will always hear them. I’m the person that lies alone in bed and meaninglessly sends a “just checking in” text, or I’ll directly ask a friend if they’re doing okay when something feels even slightly off. I’ve found that these actions lead to profound conversations because they’ve always needed someone like me; unfortunately, I’ve heard from many that I was the only person who ever cared. I will always put those I care about before me, whether that involves staying awake through the night with them, or even surrendering something important to me solely to benefit them. Ultimately, all people deserve to have their goods brought out because all people are miraculous creations. No one deserves to be untrue to themselves because of personal struggles. I will always be a truly kind person with a big heart who talks through others’ shadows so that their lights can shine. Mr. Gentile would not have been one to aimlessly write “kind” on his getting-to-know-you sheet. He knew the true meaning of it, and used his big heart to spread that kindness to all. Those who felt his love will forever have his legacy in their hearts, which will only make their hearts even bigger. This is the level of a big heart I will always strive to have, no matter what.
Nick Perdziola
Bethel Park High SchoolBethel Park, PA
Big Heart is the perfect name for the Mr. Gentile scholarship because it accurately describes his persona. My name is Nick Perdziola. I am a current senior at Bethel Park High School. I had Mr. Gentile in my junior year. His class was always one to look forward to no matter what kind of day you were having. The best part of knowing Mr. Gentile was his kindness and support in class. He always had a way to let you know things would work out and be okay. The most important lesson I learned from Mr. Gentile was to accept people for who they are. I will forever practice his philosophy wherever I go in life. His presence will always be with me and so many other students that were touched by his kindness. My life started in a different country, and I was adopted into my family as a toddler. There were many struggles including speech, math, reading, and motor skills. My parents did all they could to help me overcome these struggles, but more importantly to help me become the person I am today. I have an easygoing personality and a kind heart. At least that is what I am told by others. I like to say hello or ask teachers how their day is going. It is a small gesture on my part, and I have been doing this for as long as I can remember. I have a first cousin with autism and have seen her grow up with a limited vocabulary and frustration to communicate. My older brother was bullied throughout his school years because of his adoption and dyslexia. These personal experiences have helped me develop empathy towards others and have a better understanding of how to be kind and make someone’s day just a little better. As I get older, I understand the responsibilities of adults to look out for those who need that extra support or guidance. Starting at a young age, I participated in sports where I learned the value of encouraging others to create a positive environment. Now in high school, I belong to the Interact Club, Environmental Club, Jazz Ensemble, Symphonic Band, and DECA. I have made new friends in these activities, which have allowed me to spread more kindness by giving them my full support. I have a part-time job and cut my elderly neighbor’s grass. My job at a local pharmacy has made me more patient and taught me a new set of skills while dealing with the public. I have seen customers come in at their best and their worst, but I still greet everyone with a smile. I have learned more about being kind and giving back to others in my life from family, friends, teachers, co-workers, and employers. It is not always about the big volunteer events to say you are doing something good, but more importantly, just doing good on a day-to-day basis without the recognition or trophy to show your worth. I am human and have good and bad days. I help my friends with their bad days, even if it’s just a small piece of advice to help them through a tough time. Keeping a positive attitude can be hard, but having good people and friends in your life can ease rough days. I am greatly appreciative of the consideration of this scholarship to help pay for college.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is May 3, 2024. Winners will be announced on May 24, 2024.

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