Cooper Levenson Scholarship winner Anthony Lino from Atlantic City High School. Photo courtesy of Cooper Levenson.

By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media

ATLANTIC CITY — Atlantic City High School graduate Anthony Lino is changing his mind.

Lino, whose parents were born in Mexico, won the Cooper Levenson Foundation Scholarship this summer with fellow Atlantic City High School student Sohe Shomyha, and Ocean City High School student Thomas Oves.

The former three-sport athlete at ACHS said he was thinking about pursuing a business degree at Rutgers University this fall for financial reasons, but now believes his heart may be in political science.

“I decided to pursue this business degree for financial reasons, being that I could provide enough money for my family and also for my necessities,” Lino told Front Runner New Jersey/La Prensa this week, adding that he is the first person in his family to attend college. “However, I have been thinking about transitioning my major into political science. I have always been passionate about community and teamwork. I believe that this career I have chosen to study will help become a leader in my community or change a community.

“I have also decided to transition from business to political science because I have been taught my whole life that money doesn’t buy happiness. That it is better to be poor and humble then to be rich and greedy,” Lino said.

Living God’s Plan

Lino said thoughts of his parents are driving his new college focus.

“My parents didn’t come from houses and three meals a day,” the young Lino said. “My mom lived in a one floor house in Mexico with her eight brothers and sisters. My father’s father had built his seven children ‘a house’ where they could live in. My father grew up in the fields, picking avocados and limes to sell. My mother’s mother would sacrifice her meals for her eight children and if there were any few crumbs that her children had left on their plate, then that would be her meal.

Anthony Lino (standing right) with family members. Photo courtesy of Anthony Lino.

“I have been given the best advice from my grandparents and parents. My faith in religion is also what is keeping me afloat from negative thoughts. I’m living by God’s plan. I will not complain for whatever is taken from me or given to me,” he added.

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He played tight end on the Vikings’ football team, third base on the baseball team and threw shot put on the track team. He was a member of the Key Club and Hope For Atlantic City club.

He was one of the many young people who volunteered to clean up Atlantic City’s Tanger Outlets after the protest riots on June 1. He also handed out food for the needy on Thanksgiving.

Extremely Proud

“My parents are extremely proud that I am going to college,” Lino said. “They have worked their entire lives for their children. I especially know the burden that both of my parents carry. My parents came to this country not knowing any English but they came to this country with a determination to work and provide for their families back home in Mexico.

“My parents made the sacrifice of not returning back to their home country because they wanted their children to grow up in the United States which provided many opportunities. Going to college and furthering my education is my ‘thank you’ to them and all the sacrifices they had made for us, my sister and I.”

Lino said the male members of his family have served as motivation for him even though they were never able to pursue a college degree. His father had dropped out of high school. He said he is also aware how others may view him just by his mere presence.

Breaking Stereotypes

“Hopefully, after college I could continue studying as well to provide for my family,” Lino said. “My goal in life was always to be a role model for the youth. I still feel that I have not achieved this goal yet. However, I think about this goal every day when I step out of my house. I am also easily stereotyped — [such as] a Hispanic male, a male that might be gang-affiliated or might have a bad background; or might work his entire life in a restaurant or construction; a good-for-nothing in his community.

“I would like to first become a role model in breaking these stereotypes. I believe that I could go far into my community to be known as a figure that is not a good-for-nothing. I am setting a goal to become a leader in my community where the youth could look up to me and notice that I was in their shoes; that I came from an immigrant working class family, that I, at the age of 13, started to work to help out my parents with a few bills I could pay in order to mature, and that I understood the burdens my family carries. Looking up to me or looking down on me both will benefit me,” he said.

Sohe Shomyha and Thomas Oves

The Cooper Levenson team members who served on the scholarship committee chose Lino, Shomyha and Oves as scholarship recipients because of their impressive academic achievements and community service work.

Oves plans to study civil engineering at the University of Delaware. Shomyha plans to study molecular biology and biochemistry at Rutgers University.

Cooper Levenson, an Atlantic City-based law firm, established the fund to benefit college-bound area residents as part of a year-long celebration of the firm’s 50th anniversary in 2007 — and in honor of the practice’s founding partner James L. Cooper, a man who dedicated his life to the law, education, civil rights and community service.

Cooper Levenson’s Commitment

“Our firm has always taken our role as a corporate citizen seriously, and we know that the best way to ensure a strong future for our community and region is to invest in our youth,” said Lloyd D. Levenson, chief executive officer in a statement.

Lloyd Levenson, of Cooper Levenson in Atlantic City. Photo courtesy of Cooper Levenson.

“In keeping with the example set by our founder Jim Cooper, we help local students — high school seniors who demonstrate civic responsibility and academic achievement — reach their goals for a higher education,” Levenson said.

Cooper Levenson is a full-service law firm since 1957, with 70 attorneys and New Jersey offices in Atlantic City and Cherry Hill. The firm also has offices in Delaware, Florida, New York City, and Las Vegas.

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