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2017-2018 Scholarship Recipients

Nancy AucapinaNancy Aucapina
Attending Housatonic Community College- CT
Field of Interest: Nursing
CONNTAC Representative: Shavonn Hudson

Nancy is currently attending Housatonic Community College. Upon completing her pre-requisites, she plans to transfer to the University of Bridgeport to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. Nancy says that she always knew her mission in life was to take care of those in need of her help. Throughout her life, she has experienced numerous struggles when it came to her own health. After graduating high school, she had to postpone attending college because she became very ill to the point that she was deemed disabled. Thankfully, Nancy received the blessing of a kidney transplant in 2016 that improved her quality of life tremendously. Within a year, things took a turn as her anti-rejection medicine caused her to be in a wheelchair. She also had to endure a total knee replacement and other surgeries. Nancy’s determination, positive outlook on life, and fighting spirit have helped her overcome the many obstacles that life has put in her path. She thanks her CONNTAC Counselor, Shavonn Hudson, for guiding her through the financial aid process and assisting her with scholarships. “Shavonn is very patient and helpful, as I had many questions.” Nancy shares that the scholarship will help her with college expenses, including tuition and purchasing books.


Jordan EdwardsJordan Edwards
Attending Three Rivers Community College- CT
Field of Interest: Business Management
CONNTAC Representative: Gloria Dover

Jordan is a Business Management major at Three Rivers Community College with ultimate dreams of owning his own business. At the age of 10, he sadly lost both of his parents within 14 months of one another. As a result, he explains that his pre-teen and teenage years consisted of indulging in hardcore drugs to self-medicate. Subsequently, these actions led to a lifestyle of crime and incarceration. Jordan is a husband and father of four sons who made the decision on his 30th birthday that he was done with the “lifestyle” and wanted to better himself. He would love to be able to build and create something to leave for his boys that will guide, teach, and encourage them to become better too. He applied for the 2nd Chance Pell Grant Program where he was introduced to CONNTAC Counselor, Gloria Dover. He expresses gratitude to Gloria for getting him enrolled in college and helping him make the transition from taking classes while being incarcerated to being released and taking classes at the college to finish what he started. “Gloria is my educational angel. I can go to her for anything, she gives the best advice, and she always makes sure I’m headed in the right direction.” Jordan explains that the scholarship will help further his education, help with some debt that he has accumulated, and it gave him the confidence to apply for other scholarships.


Kaylee EucedaKaylee Euceda
Attending University of Connecticut- Stamford Campus- CT
Field of Interest: Psychology
CONNTAC Representative: Laura Blackwell

Kaylee is a Psychology major at the University of Connecticut. She is a first-generation college student who was raised by her mother, a single parent. Ever since she was a little girl, she loved helping others. As she went through middle and high school, she realized that she wanted to become a Social Worker. Throughout those formative years, she faced many challenges, including being in an abusive relationship. This abusive relationship not only affected her emotionally, but it affected her studies as well. Kaylee explains that she would look for excuses, trying to convince herself that the abuse didn’t matter, and that giving up her classes was so much easier at the time. She later realized that the only thing that will help her become successful is school. She is grateful for her CONNTAC Counselor, Laura Blackwell, for helping her with completing the FAFSA and for encouraging her to apply for this scholarship. Kaylee says that the scholarship will help tremendously with paying for her education.


Pamela GerhardPamela Gerhard
Attending Southern New Hampshire University- NH
Field of Interest: Marketing
CONNTAC Representative: Arlette Taylor

Pamela graduated Cum Laude with her Associate’s degree in Marketing from Naugatuck Valley Community College, and she currently attends Southern New Hampshire University. At forty-seven years of age, she is a non-traditional student, a wife, and a mother to three children and she is determined to make a better life for her family and the community. She is fully aware of the importance of education, and she understands that she will have new employment opportunities afforded to her that she would never have without a college degree. Pamela is a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and she currently holds an impressive 3.99 GPA. She appreciates her CONNTAC Counselor, Arlette Taylor, for assisting her with financial aid and encouraging her to apply for this scholarship for the second year in a row. “Arlette puts her heart and soul into assisting students with achieving their dreams, and it comes across in her friendly demeanor. She truly wants the best for the students with whom she works.” Pamela shares that the scholarship will help with college tuition costs, bringing her closer to achieving her educational goals.


Thomas IbbisonThomas Ibbison
Attending Three Rivers Community College- CT
Field of Interest: Environmental Engineering Technology
CONNTAC Representative: Gloria Dover

Thomas currently attends Three Rivers Community College with dreams of becoming an Environmental Engineer. Throughout his educational journey, he has experienced numerous hardships, including defaulted student loans and incarceration. With the assistance of CONNTAC Counselor, Gloria Dover, he was able to enroll in the 2nd Chance Pell Grant Program backed by Three Rivers Community College at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional facility. Thomas successfully completed the Fall 2017 semester on the Dean’s List and soon became halfway-house-approved. With strong determination and will to change his life regardless of his past experiences, Thomas has continued his education on the campus of Three Rivers Community College while obtaining and maintaining employment. He expresses extreme gratitude for Gloria Dover, for supporting and encouraging him every step of the way. Thomas shares that the scholarship will help him emotionally, physically, and spiritually.




Lacresia JohnsonLacresia Johnson
Attending Post University- CT
Field of Interest: Psychology
CONNTAC Representative: Erica Coleman and Arlette Taylor

Lacresia is enrolled in the accelerated program at Post University and holds a commendable 3.7 GPA. She is studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology with a minor in Human Services. She is a single parent of two who has four jobs, and she explains that going to school is not easy. She makes numerous sacrifices, including spending all of her free time studying, because she wants to be the greatest role model for her children. She says, “I want to show them that in order to live the American Dream, you must work hard to get there, and nothing will ever be handed to you.” She is determined and lives by the motto, “Failure is not an option.” She expresses extreme gratitude for her CONNTAC Counselors, Erica Coleman and Arlette Taylor, for assisting with the financial aid applications over the years and for being a great help with completing and submitting this scholarship application. Lacresia explains that the scholarship will help her pay for future classes, as she has a limited amount of financial aid.




John KalyondoJohn Kalyondo
Attending Texas A&M University- TX
Field of Interest: Enginerring
CONNTAC Representative: Shavonn Hudson

John is an international transfer student from Housatonic Community College, where he majored in Engineering Science. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University. Fully aware of his family’s financial situation and currency depreciation, John has often stressed about whether his classes would be dropped and if he would fall out of status and face deportation. He is grateful for his CONNTAC Counselor, Shavonn Hudson, for being diligent and profoundly committed to students’ success. “Shavonn helped me search for scholarship opportunities, provided me with college application fee waivers, and gave encouraging words every time we met.” John explains that the scholarship will lighten his financial burden, which allows him to focus on his studies.




Cheryl SchneiderCheryl Schneider
Attending Three Rivers Community College- CT
Field of Interest: Healthcare Administration
CONNTAC Representative: Gloria Dover

Cheryl currently attends Three Rivers Community College with plans of transferring and earning a Bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Administration or Medical Social Work. She is an Ovarian Cancer survivor and throughout her experience, she discovered that working in the healthcare industry is her purpose. Because of what she endured as a patient, she is passionate about helping others navigate the system in all aspects of the treatment, financial, and healing processes. This is Cheryl’s fourth attempt at attending college, as she had to withdraw the other three times due to the cancer returning. She is committed to accomplishing the goal of earning her degree through her determination and love of learning. She thanks her CONNTAC Counselor, Gloria Dover, for acting as a mentor to her and introducing her to this scholarship opportunity. “Gloria is a wealth of knowledge and is always there to encourage me.” Cheryl shares that the scholarship will ease the financial burden that comes with her educational goals.






Ketia SimilienKetia Similien
Attending Southern Connecticut State University- CT
Field of Interest: Public Health
CONNTAC Representative: Shavonn Hudson

Ketia transferred from Housatonic Community College, and she is now in her first semester at Southern Connecticut State University pursuing a degree in Public Health. She is a single mother to a 4-year-old autistic son and she has overcome numerous obstacles in order to pursue her education. Sadly, both of her parents passed away several years ago, so she has minimal assistance when it comes to childcare and overall support. Ketia works multiple part-time jobs, attends school full-time, and transports her son to weekly appointments for occupational and speech therapy. She also participates in the Family Economic Security Program (FESP) and the National Society of Leadership and Success, where she assists with events and activities within the college. She appreciates her CONNTAC Counselor, Shavonn Hudson, for giving her a college application fee waiver and for exploring scholarship websites with her. Ketia shares that the scholarship will help with the cost of daycare and babysitter fees for her son, gas for transportation, and supplies for school.




Nathalia TrujilloNathalia Trujillo
Attending Tunxis Community College- CT
Field of Interest: Medicine
CONNTAC Representative: Erica Coleman

Nathalia’s goal is to graduate from Tunxis Community College with a Liberal Arts and Sciences degree, transfer to the University of Connecticut, and ultimately become an Oncologist or a Pediatrician. She migrated from Colombia to the United States two years ago, and she is the first person in her family to attend college. Nathalia says, “I came here with a different set of values, manners, and traditions from the people here. Being that it was my first time in the U.S., adopting some of the American ways was difficult for me, but not impossible.” Since being in the United States, she has learned the English language, she has been improving and exceling academically, and she fulfilled one of her ultimate dreams of becoming a cheerleader on her high school team. She expresses extreme gratitude for her CONNTAC Counselor, Erica Coleman, for giving her advice about possible career choices, assisting her with filling out the financial aid paperwork, and for encouraging her to apply for this scholarship. “I am so grateful for Erica because she even took the time to explain everything to my mother.” Nathalia shares that the scholarship will allow her to purchase the materials needed to complete her educational requirements in preparation for her future career.

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