2008-2009 Scholarship Recipients
Anthony Amador is the first in his family to go to college. He is presently enrolled at Manchester Community College pursuing an Associate’s degree in Computer/Engineering Science. He has faced tremendous obstacles in his life which includes incarceration, and homelessness. While incarcerated, he met Mrs. Gagner who assisted him with his financial aid and his career goals. Anthony says he is grateful that CONNTAC exists in Connecticut and that he met Mrs. Gagner when he did. Were it not for her, his hopes and dreams wouldn’t seem achievable. Anthony served five years in the US Navy, he volunteers as a sous-chef, he is a member of the Army-Navy Club, he volunteers writing the newsletter for the Army-Navy Club, and he volunteers to drive for the Disabled American Veterans hospital. His future goals are to complete his education with a Bachelor’s degree and reenlist in the Navy to become a commissioned officer. He plans to use the scholarship to cover textbook costs and supplies for classes.
Gail Diaz earned her Associate Degree in Human Services from Housatonic Community College. However, she was unable to return to school to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree after completing her Associate’s Degree. She never thought it would be possible to go back to school after so many years but after speaking with Lisa Slade her CONNTAC- EOC Counselor, she made her realize that going back to school was an option. Gail says that Ms. Slade helped her rediscover and reach for those dreams that had been long hidden on the back burner of her life. After years of being away from school, Gail says she is much older than the other students, but she feels like it’s her turn “at the rodeo.” This scholarship will “provide me a wonderful opportunity to further my education and reinvent myself as a professional.”
Milissa Lebron is enrolled at Gateway Community College majoring in Business and in the fall, she will pursue a Communication degree at Southern Connecticut State University. She says that the hardships we experience in life educate and make us stronger. With the help of her Counselor Miguel Peralta, she was able to research schools and obtain fee waivers. He connected her with programs that assist with family housing and encouraged her to meet with her university counselor on a weekly basis for academic advisement. She feels blessed and is grateful for the CONNTAC-EOC Program.
Mildred Martinez is presently attending Tunxis Community College with the goal of being a Registered Nurse. She is working toward owning her own home and she gives thanks to Counselor Erica Coleman for assisting her with re-enrolling at the community college. Ms. Coleman helped her with the paperwork necessary for admissions and financial aid. Mildred has overcome many obstacles including being a survivor of domestic violence. Now, she says, “I have recaptured what I had forgotten years ago and see more clearly the importance of pursuing my goals and earning a college degree.” She is committed to providing a good life for her two children by being the best role model possible. She plans to use the scholarship to purchase a computer to do her schoolwork.
Patricia McGill entered college at the age of 51 after raising four boys alone; one being a special needs child. Her goal is to teach African-American History. She gives a tremendous amount of credit to Miguel Peralta for helping her choose Charter Oak State College, assisting with her enrollment, and helping her with the financial aid process. She says that he has been her guardian angel. Due to his help, one day she will become the first person in her family to receive a college degree. The scholarship will pay for part of her college tuition and assist to purchase books.
Rose Morals attends Tunxis Community College and is majoring in Human Service and Criminal Justice. She has always worked in the community and helping others overcome hurdles is a passion she wants to continue pursuing through education. She says that being a single mother to four sons and having limited eyesight creates barriers in her educational journey. CONNTAC has helped, by making it easy for her to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) correctly. Any glitches that may have discouraged her were easily resolved with a phone call to her CONNTAC-EOC counselor. “CONNTAC-EOC has been a large part of my life.” She thanks Erica Coleman for helping her son prepare for his senior year and helping other members in her family return to college. Rose has earned 77 credits toward her degree and maintains a 3.56 GPA (grade point average). She plans to use the scholarship to pay for books and supplies.
Ivy Royster is in her fourth semester at Housatonic Community College majoring in Business Management. She has always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur. As a single mother, she has overcome ovarian cancer and faces severe financial difficulty. Each time she looks at her son she knows, “I have to make a better life for him.” She gives credit to her CONNTAC counselor Lisa Slade for guiding her step-by-step in her academic goals and for stressing the importance of education to make her dream of owning her own business a reality. She plans to use the scholarship to pay for books, settle school-related bills, and to assist with an early childhood program for her son.
Andree Thelusca is a graduate of Norwalk High School and attends Sacred Heart University. She is pursuing a degree in Psychology. She has been very active in the college’s Art, French, Key, and Earth Clubs. She enjoys being involved in student organizations and participating in community activities. After college she plans to get a job as a paralegal and work her way up to becoming an attorney. She feels that her CONNTAC-EOC counselor Laura Blackwell has provided the guidance needed to allow her to understand financial aid. She plans to use the scholarship to pay for books and supplies.
Rita Walker is currently pursuing an Associate’s degree at Housatonic Community College. She admits, “I’ve made a lot of wrong choices,” and is overcoming a 25-year addiction to drugs. But now, she’s making the right choices through her growing faith in God and returning to school. Going back to school was difficult. But without help from CONNTAC representative, Lisa Slade, Rita “would not have gone the extra mile.” Ms. Slade instilled hope in her when she felt discouraged. Rita hopes to one day run a nonprofit agency where she can help others who are less fortunate.
Cynthia White is currently in pursuit of a degree in Human Services at Housatonic Community College. She is a single parent who made a vital mistake that cost her 22 months in prison. While she was incarcerated, she realized that in order to make a positive impact in her son’s life she would have to turn her life around. Her future goal is to open up a refuge house for children with incarcerated parents. Cynthia says that having Lisa Slade as her Counselor has inspired her not to settle for a Bachelors degree but to continue with her education to pursue a Master’s degree in Human Services.