2018-2019 Scholarship Recipients
Jessica is a recent graduate of Three Rivers Community College and is currently in her first semester at Eastern Connecticut State University. At a very early age, a child psychologist told her mother that she would be socially impaired due to an ongoing custody battle. Hardships remained as she continued to live below the poverty line and was reminded of her mental and social challenges. Jessica explains that rising above the poverty level has been her goal, and studying Accounting has proved to be a way to reach that goal. She began to regularly volunteer as a tax assistant with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) at the Thames Valley Council for Community Action (TVCCA). Through this work, she helped underserved populations in the community by leveraging the skills she has gained in the pursuit of her degree. She expresses gratitude for her CONNTAC Counselor, Gloria Dover, for supporting her and showing her opportunities unseen on her own. “Gloria deserves more recognition for all of the support she contributes to our college. I am just one of many students blessed to have her in my life.” Jessica says the scholarship will be a tremendous benefit by giving her the opportunity to focus on school.
Goulsina’s goal is to graduate from Tunxis Community College with a Visual Fine Arts degree, transfer to Central Connecticut State University and major in Art Education, to ultimately become an art teacher to children with disabilities. She is a single mother who came to the United States through the visa process. In pursuit of a better life, she and her son arrived with one suitcase, a lot of hope, and determination. She worked during the day and took classes at night to learn English. Later, Goulsina suffered a work-related injury and was unable to work. During her time out of work, she soul searched and decided that she wanted to bring joy to young people through art. Goulsina is Vice President of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and is an active member of the Tunxis Art Club. She appreciates her CONNTAC Counselor, Erica Coleman, for helping her apply for financial aid and explaining degree requirements for her future career. Goulsina shares the scholarship will help her purchase art materials that tend to be expensive.
Shane is a Computer Engineering major at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. He chose Computer Engineering because he loves to problem solve and wants to increase the representation of African Americans in Engineering. Shane, his twin brother Shawn, and two younger brothers were raised by a single mother who taught them the foundation of hard work and sacrifice. He and Shawn, took on the role of setting good examples for their younger brothers having been raised by a working, single parent. During high school, Shane held the position of Treasurer of the Youth Council and NAACP. He also attended workshops in Boston for Hearing Youth Voices to learn about restorative justice practices, black empowerment, and cultural diversity. Additionally, he interned with the Lieutenant Governor’s campaign learning about policy and government. Shane was involved in athletics to include Varsity Football, Weightlifting, Basketball, Track and Field, and Wrestling. In addition, he has completed hundreds of hours of community service helping kids with their homework at the Drop in Learning Center, and volunteering with Students Against Destructive Decisions. College is the next step for him and will allow him to expand his horizons in many ways. He expresses gratitude to his CONNTAC Counselor, Gloria Dover, for informing him about financial aid, scholarships, and for assisting him with completing the FAFSA. Shane explains the scholarship will alleviate financial stress from his mother who is supporting two children attending college at the same time.
Shawn currently attends Morehouse College with dreams of becoming a Medical Sociologist. As the oldest of four brothers growing up in a single parent household in New London, Connecticut, he expresses that he knew the odds were against him. In order to become successful, he knew he had to go to college and obtain a degree. He also intends to be a living testimony for all students in this country that their beginning circumstances do not dictate their future. Shawn held a strong GPA and was ranked in the top 10% of his high school graduating class. He was the President of both the Multicultural and More Than Words clubs. He was Vice President of New London’s NAACP youth council and a member of Hearing Youth Voices and the National Honor Society. Additionally, he was on the Soccer and Wrestling teams. He appreciates his CONNTAC Counselor, Gloria Dover, for assisting him with scholarships and providing insight to his family. Shawn says that the scholarship will be one of the best investments for his education and will alleviate financial burden on his family.
Zaha graduated with a commendable 3.97 GPA with her Associate’s degree in Nursing from Three Rivers Community College. She currently attends the University of Louisiana-Lafayette pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing with the goal of becoming an APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse). Zaha describes receiving her education as always being a dream. She has faced many challenges, including, living in a world of poverty, domestic violence, physical abuse, health problems, and homelessness. She struggled a lot with no family, no support system, and limited transportation. Despite these trying times, Zaha found the desire to make a difference in her community. She volunteered at the GNACC Healthy Living Festival, Medical Reserve Corps, St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen, Navy Fleet & Family Support Center, and coordinated drives for personal donations and hospitality kits for the homeless. She is bilingual and speaks fluent English and French. She thanks her CONNTAC Counselor, Gloria Dover, for issuing college application fee waivers and for recommending resources, such as the local food pantry. “Supports like Gloria make it their mission to assist you and encourage you against all odds. I truly appreciate her support and guidance.” Zaha shares the scholarship will help with costs associated with tuition, books, and fees.
Bryan transferred from Norwalk Community College and is in his first semester at Sacred Heart University pursuing a degree in Accounting. As a child he witnessed his father battle alcoholism. His father’s illness remained a critical problem for he and his mother the year he entered Norwalk Community College for the first time back in 2012. Severe financial constraints forced him to leave school in order to secure a full-time job. Bryan relocated to Florida with his mother for a short time where they were able to find work and affordable housing. With a better job opportunity for his mother in Connecticut, they moved to Stamford. It became clear to him that he needed to have a college degree in order to achieve his professional goals. Bryan returned to Norwalk Community College in January 2018 as a full-time student and completed his coursework in 18 months with a 3.8 cumulative GPA. He credits his CONNTAC Coun- selor, DeShayla Shelley, for providing him with fee waivers and helping him navigate the college application process with no financial struggle. “DeShayla was very knowledgeable and even provided me with additional advice to carry on to my four-year school.” Bryan shares the scholarship will help reduce the gap that remains with his college tuition.
Christopher transferred from Three Rivers Community College and is enrolled at the University of Connecticut pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. Growing up, he describes seeing both of his parents work extremely hard for things that they loved. Christopher recalls his mother working 12-hour shifts at a nail salon to take care of him and his brother. Simultaneously, his father spent his earnings on his addiction to cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. In elementary school, Christopher remembers feeling left out due to having to take English as a Second Language courses. In middle school, he developed an addiction to playing games. The addiction progressively worsened in high school to the point where games were all he knew and thought about. He explains that he was addicted to the escapism and gambling aspects the games provided. His addiction to games ultimately led to the deterioration of his physical health and mental wellbeing. He appreciates his CONNTAC Counselor, Gloria Dover, for helping him realize the scholarships he could apply and for giving him great advice. Christopher shares the scholarship will allow him to focus on academics and internships rather than worrying about how he is going to pay for college.
Taisha is a Business Administration major at Tunxis Community College with ultimate plans of assisting her brothers in running their own mechanic business. She is a single mother of two who was recently released from prison due to driving under the influence. Furthermore, Taisha has experi- enced additional challenges, including, fighting her addiction, losing her parents during an early period in her life, and domestic violence. She refuses to let these events define her. She is determined to achieve her goals, make a difference, and set an example for her children. She volunteered with the Waterbury Pop Warner Football League and participated in recovery events while working as a Medical Assistant for an addiction treatment center. She expresses extreme gratitude for her CONNTAC Counselor, Erica Coleman, for waiving the college application fee, assisting with the FAFSA, and encouraging her to apply for this scholarship. “Erica gave me the opportunity to register, begin classes, and become that much closer to achieving my goals.” Taisha shares the scholarship will give her the assistance needed to afford taking classes and buying the necessary tools to further her education.
Saima is a Biology major at Central Connecticut State University with dreams of becoming a lawyer. Growing up in Pakistan, she was always passionate about her studies. She accepted a marriage proposal in the midst of her studies at the age of 19, which was normal for women in her culture. Saima describes being given promises from her family that she would be able to continue her studies after marriage; those promises turned out to be empty. Her marriage, she says, were typical of her cultural norms, where she was raising four children, trying her best to be a good wife, giving up on her own dreams. Paying for college remains her biggest obstacle while in pursuit of achieving her goals. She expresses extreme gratitude for her CONNTAC Counselor, Daisy Aiken, for explaining how this scholarship helps nontraditional students like herself. Saima volunteers with the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut teaching, mentoring, cooking, and serving at Mercy Shelter. She also volunteers at Habitat for Humanity. Saima shares the scholarship will help pay for college tuition, as she pursues goal to become a lawyer and be the voice of so many who are oppressed like she once was.
Nathaniel received his Associate’s degree from Capital Community College and is in his first semester at the University of Hartford. After earning his Bachelor’s degree, he plans to pursue a Master’s degree to become an Architect with State of Connecticut. Prior to pursuing his college education, Nathaniel encountered numerous obstacles, including, being born with type 1 diabetes and living in an unstable household where he suffered abuse. He found a positive escape while attending school. It was there that he received support from others and engaged in meaningful opportunities, such as, tutoring Math and Science, acting as Vice President of the Anime Club, and becoming a Student Government Association Official. He thanks his CONNTAC Counselor, Allyce Pace, for assisting him with scholarships and providing an ear to hear his story. “Allyce provided assistance swiftly and made my life much easier to handle.” Nathaniel explains that the scholarship will assist with tuition costs and help to relieve stress of paying for college.