It’s a very rare person that can possibly impact the world the way Michael Samuel Gilmor did in his short time walking this good earth. A John H. Glenn High School graduate, he was well known to students at Huntington High School through his dad, who is dean of student support. When he passed away suddenly at home of an aortic aneurism at only 22 years of age in August 2018, it was a horrible time for everyone that knew and loved him.
Mr. Gilmor’s father, Robert is the founder of Huntington’s Habitat for Humanity club chapter. The father brought his son along on several trips the club made to rebuild housing in storm damaged communities across the country. During those trips, Michael Gilmor and the Huntington Habitat members were able to bond and grow to respect and admire one another.
Michael S. Gilmor was a remarkable young man.
A three-sport athlete (football, basketball and baseball) and Homecoming Day king at John H. Glenn, Mr. Gilmor graduated fifth in his class and went on to achieve great things at Providence College, where he changed his academic major from chemistry to biochemistry in his junior year after taking a Chemistry of Living Organisms class. He made the change of majors even though it required meeting additional courses. A teaching assistant in the laboratory of Professor Kenneth R. Overly, he graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry along with a business studies certificate.
Mr. Gilmor was Providence College’s Highest GPA in Concentration Award recipient for the biochemistry department, chemistry department and business department. He played intramural water polo, volleyball and basketball and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in his free time.
Choosing to learn from everyone he came across, Mr. Gilmor used that knowledge to impart upon others love, humor, respect, happiness and an overwhelming feeling of acceptance. His true gift was that he made people that he met along the way feel special and the most important person in his life at that moment in time. A quote used by him on many occasions that was given to him by his mom, Janet, sums up how he went about his days: “Life is far too short to sweat the small things and to ignore the amazing opportunities you have been presented with.”
The Michael Samuel Gilmor Memorial Scholarship has quickly become one of Huntington’s most coveted awards. Robert Gilmor tried mightily to get through his remarks at this year’s scholarship presentation while keeping his emotions in check, but it just wasn’t possible as he went about describing in few short minutes his son’s incredible life and how he touched the world and listing the many qualities and significant future potential of each of the three 2022 recipients.
Huntington Class of 2022 members Kianna Criscuola, Robert Smith and Erin Ye are exceptional young people who worthy recipients of the third set of Gilmor scholarships, which were first awarded in the spring of 2020.
Ms. Criscuola and Mr. Smith both received $700 stipends while Ms. Ye was presented with a $200 award.
An Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction, Ms. Criscuola is headed to Colgate University. She plans to major in either environmental science or ecology. Co-President of Natural Helpers, the teenager has quietly and behind the scenes assisted classmates navigating through difficult personal and family situations. She won Academic All-County honors while playing for the Blue Devil varsity volleyball team, served as vice president of the Science Honor Society and engaged in a credit bearing internship with biology teacher Joseph Cohen.
An Advanced Placement Scholar, Mr. Smith has been recruited to play on Stony Brook University’s NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse team. He was All-County in three sports and won the county wrestling championship and was All-State all while maintaining a near perfect academic grade average. The teenager has been a Natural Helper and interned with math teacher Michael Graziano in a geometry class.
A National Merit Finalist and Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction, Ms. Ye is the valedictorian of Huntington’s Class of 2022. She plans to study linguistics and cognitive sciences at Stanford University. A Natural Helper, editor in chief of The Dispatch student newspaper, a senior class officer and a three time qualifier for the State History Day finals, she ran on the Blue Devil varsity cross country, winter and spring track teams.
At the time of his unexpected and downright shocking passing, Mr. Gilmor had just completed a year of teaching English in Poland through the Fulbright English teaching assistantship program. He was Providence’s first science major to receive a Fulbright award and was one of just 15 students nationally to be chosen to teach in Poland.
Mr. Gilmor said he chose Poland because it welcomes teaching assistants with science backgrounds and because his great-grandparents were born there. He learned Poland had the first Habitat for Humanity chapter in Europe. Fulbright is the flagship international exchange program of the U.S. government.
As a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Poland, Mr. Gilmor taught English as a second language at Łomża State University of Applied Sciences and shared his knowledge of American culture by organizing activities and lessons in public schools across Poland. He especially enjoyed working with Polish youth in remote areas of the country, volunteering his time outside of the university teaching schedule to ensure as many students as possible had an opportunity to learn from an American grantee. He encouraged inclusivity during his hands-on lessons and encouraged his students to follow their dreams. He lived by the principles of teaching through experience and stories, through laughter and fun and through service.
On April 25, 2019, the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy and Łomża State University of Applied Sciences organized a tree-planting ceremony in memory of Mr. Gilmor. The ceremony took place in Łomża, on the university’s campus. The event was attended by US, Polish and Fulbright officials along with professors and students who mentored or worked with Mr. Gilmor. In their remarks, speakers honored his memory and his involvement in educating Polish youth.
The oak tree planted in Łomża (with an engraved placard that bears Mr. Gilmor’s name) is a living symbol of hope and healing that will ensure that his life’s work lives on.