Varsity Club Scholarship Winner Overcame Bullying

Khadim addresses guests at the Varsity Club Awards Dinner.

The Varsity Club of Staten Island presented its 2017 Joe Coty Jr. Memorial Scholarship to 18-year-old Khadim Beye, a senior at Tottenville High School who receives clinical therapeutic services at the SIMHS’ Chait Mental Health Center. Khadim was honored at the Varsity Club’s Athletic Awards Dinner in June.

Khadim, who is challenged with an intellectual disability, undertook counseling a year ago to learn how to overcome the depression and anger he was struggling with, as a result of being bullied in high school for three years, as well as a violent incident that affected his family, according to his SIMHS therapist Colleen Bardelli.

One day during Khadim’s senior year, as he sat in his room thinking about his life, he decided that he wanted and needed to make a sea-change, explains Ms. Bardelli. That decision, coupled with a new-found motivation and determination, led him from “zero to hero,” so to speak – from a boy lacking self-esteem and courage to a confident man who, in fighting to overcome his own challenges, grew into a brave role model for his family and peers.

In line with his new outlook, during the past year Khadim has given volunteer service to True 2 Life, a local organization that educates and encourages youngsters about how to stop violence, and to the Ababa Foundation, a local group that helps feed and clothe disadvantaged children on Staten Island. He has spent many hours of his personal time in commitment to the missions of these two important groups.

Not only is Khadim’s mother proud of his turn-around and how much he has grown over his time in high school, but his teachers also report that he is very helpful in class and that other students really look up to him. In recognition of these and other accomplishments, he was honored with the school’s Leadership award in May.

After graduation Khadim will participate in a vocational/employment training program. And, better yet, he has been hired by True 2 Life, to lend his insights and experiences to other young people looking to turn their backs on violence. His career goal is to work with children with disabilities.

Khadim is an “amazing young man,” notes Ms. Bardelli. “He has responded to therapy by turning negatives into positives, by letting go of anger and depression and embracing serenity and confidence, not only in his own abilities but in his ability to inspire others to do the same. Despite his personal intellectual challenges and the negative factors that beset his outside life, he is rising up to expand on and fully meet his potential and reach his goals. He is well-deserving of the Varsity Club’s Joe Coty Scholarship.”

Since 2011, the Joe Coty Jr. Memorial Scholarship has been awarded to youngsters who are highly motivated to overcome intellectual, emotional, or developmental barriers to achieve their goals. To help prepare the recipients to reach their life‘s goals, the scholarship underwrites some or all of the costs of college or other post secondary education, vocational training, or acquisition of a specific skills.

The scholarship was established in memory of Mr. Coty, a Varsity Club member challenged by autism, who passed away in 2010 at age 42. In addition to working as an administrative aide for the Staten Island Yankees, Mr. Coty was intimately involved in club activities and played an important role in assisting members in their mission to raise money for student athletic scholarships.