Five years after a horrific car crash took the life of Carmen Rivera-Gotay, a scholarship in the teenager’s memory was presented to Huntington High School Class of 2018 member Norman Martinez.
An incoming senior who would have graduated with Huntington’s Class of 2014, Ms. Rivera-Gotay and Class of 2013 member Ray Vega lost their lives on June 29, 2013 in an early morning accident on Walt Whitman Road in Melville.
The $500 scholarship was presented during the senior academic awards ceremony before a crowd of 300 in the Huntington High School auditorium.
Mr. Martinez is headed to Molloy College in Rockville Centre. He’s a happy, well-liked teenager who played on the Blue Devil varsity volleyball team, performed in the Key Club’s K-Factor talent show and won several academic awards during the past four years. He’s especially good at mathematics.
The teenager plans to study business administration and management at Molloy. “I went to Molloy for a college visit during my junior year,” Mr. Martinez recalled. “I was amazed at how Molloy has different kinds of athletic programs and clubs. I liked how it has huge diversity and I knew this was the place for me. Mrs. Lorena Hickey, a teacher who I had for Spanish for Native Speakers III, gave me more information on the college and told me about her experience. I was just fascinated.”
Mr. Martinez’s decision to attend Molloy came as somewhat of a surprise. “The funny thing is, I was just going to Molloy for a college fair, but I ended up committing to the school,” he said.
Capturing the award presented in memory of Carmen River-Gotay means a great deal to Mr. Martinez. “I really didn’t expect to win this special scholarship,” he said. “It means so much to me because my brother, Ismael Martinez actually went to high school with Carmen and worked with her at King Kullen. My brother said that Carmen and I would’ve became best friends since our personalities are so bright. I am just like Carmen. I go to school and help others that need help in a certain subject, hangout with my friends, work and try to be the best person I can be. It was a huge honor that I was presented with the Carmen Rivera-Gotay scholarship. This is something that is prestigious and that will help me meet my academic needs in college. I am the first male to win this award.”
Carmen Melissa Rivera-Gotay was born on December 11, 1995 in Bay Shore. She was popular around Huntington High School. Interested in art and music, the teenager set high goals for herself. She was working hard in school and had taken a job as a bookkeeper at King Kullen on New York Avenue to save money for college. She was thinking about pursuing a career as a psychologist.
Ms. Rivera-Gotay once offered advice that summarizes the essence of the scholarship presented in her honor: “Try. Take chances. Make mistakes. Life can be messy and confusing at times, but it’s always full of surprises. The next rock in your path might be a stepping stone.”
“We want to create a stepping stone in Carmen’s honor,” said Carolyn Gotay, Carmen’s mother, during the first scholarship presentation in 2014. “We want to create something tangible to remember Carmen and all the goodness she brought into our lives. Therefore, we have created this scholarship. We did so to keep her memory alive, to remember the friendship, the joy and warmth that she brought to so many. This scholarship honors Carmen’s memory by recognizing a student who shines because of the fullness of her heart, brightness of personality and willingness to give of herself.”
To be eligible for the award a student must:
• Demonstrate community involvement through activities in school or in the community.
• Have been a positive force in school through his/her caring and respectful interaction with his/her fellow students.
• Have been accepted to a two or four year college or university, trade or vocational school.
• Be on track to graduate at the conclusion of the school year.