Celebrating 30 years of Scacalossi Scholarships
By DEBORAH A. MILES
PEF leaders know the importance of helping to invest in the education of the children of PEF members. A PEF scholarship not only leads to an appreciation of labor, but helps to inspire the future endeavors of these students which may benefit society as a whole.
PEF has embraced the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who said, “We can’t build the future for our youth, but we can build the youth for our future.”
With that thought, PEF is proud this year marks the 30th anniversary of the Joseph Scacalossi Scholarship. It has provided a total of 300 students with financial assistance since its inception in 1988.
Sheila Ambrose, chair of PEF’s Scholarship Committee, said, “This year, we received 263 applications. There were so many intelligent and caring students to choose from, it was a challenge for the committee. We wish all the applicants a successful future. The ten students we selected display a variety of talents, interests and community service work that we considered outstanding.”
The winners will each receive $4,000 over the next four years, in annual $1,000 installments.
The scholarship is named after a highly-respected union man who fought diligently for his members at the state Department of Labor in New York City, and remained an activist until his death.
Along with Ambrose, the scholarship committee includes Andrew Youngs, Joan Ramsey, Joseph Ugino and Joanne Wright, PEF staff.
Congratulations to the 2018 winners!
Ania Alberski is entering her sophomore year at the University of Pennsylvania where she made the Dean’s List as a freshman. She is studying English and Urban Education. Alberski graduated from Guilderland High School with highest honors and carried a grade point average above 95. She was a member and secretary of the National Honor Society. In her spare time, she taught kindergarten and first graders at the All Saints Catholic Church Faith Formation Program, volunteered at soup kitchens and the regional food bank, and as a camp invention counselor. She also donated her time to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Alberski enjoys painting, writing stories and poetry, and hiking. Parent: Tadeusz Alberski.
Gabriella Castillo graduated valedictorian from Maria Regina High School. For earning the highest grade point average in her class, she received the New York State Excellence Scholarship, Principal’s Award, and was accepted to Stony Brook University’s Women in Science and Engineering Honors Scholar Program. She will be studying chemical engineering at Stony Brook University. While in high school, Castillo tutored elementary school students in math and reading. She collected and organized food and clothing for indigent people in the Dominican Republic, and assisted an elderly woman with chores and errands, and read with her. She enjoys quality time with family and friends, plays basketball and listens to music. Parents: Gabriel and Lisette Castillo.
Arunabh Chaudhuri is entering his freshman year at Cornell University where he will be studying computational biology. He is a graduate of Williamsville North High School where he was an AP Scholar with Distinction, a New York State Scholar Athlete, and recipient of the Rochester Institute of Technology Computing Medal and scholarship. He was a member of the Amherst Youth Consortium, participated in a high school peer monitoring, transition and orientation program, volunteered in TIES, a program that provides positive support to children and young adults with developmental disabilities in community-based activities. Chaudhuri plays the viola, and enjoys soccer and ping pong. Parents: Arundhuti and Biswendu Chaudhuri.
Marcy Forti graduated valedictorian of her senior class at Berne Knox Westerlo High school. She is the recipient of the Society of Women Engineers Outstanding Achievement Award, an AP Scholar Award, and the Girl Scout Silver Award for 50 hours of community service. Forti initiated projects such as vegetable gardening techniques for families without ample garden space and organized ‘no name calling week’ to address bullying and create awareness to LGBT issues. As vice president of the school’s chapter of the national Honors Society, she helped with multiple Red Cross blood drives. She will be studying biochemistry at Union College, and will continue her interests in horseback riding, reading and hiking. Parent: Anthony Forti.
Sara Greenan heads to Duquesne University in Pittsburg, PA. to study nursing. She hails from Orchard Park High School where she was on the National, Spanish and Latin Honor Societies. She is the recipient of the Orchard Park Pride Award, for exhibiting excellence in character, work ethic, involvement and impact, and as a senior class liaison. Greenan has volunteered at a nursing home, participated in The Ride for Roswell, a cycling fundraiser for cancer research, and the Special Olympics Polar Plunge, a fundraiser for people with intellectual disabilities. She organized a school supply drive for students in El Salvador and volunteered at the Friends of the Night Food Pantry. Greenan enjoys traveling and spending time with her family, dog and friends. Parent: Lisa Greenan.
Leah Kusumalayam was in the top 10 percent of her graduating class at Suffern High School. She was a member of the National Honors Society and president of the Girls Learn International Club for two years. She has been studying at Rockland Community College where she is in the Honors Program, and will transfer to the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia in the spring of 2019 to study for a doctor of physical therapy degree. Kusumalayam has volunteered at Good Samaritan Hospital, and as a physical therapy aide at Premier Physical Therapy, a private clinic. As a child, her interests included singing and playing piano. Now, she paints and draws in her free time, and plays on a volleyball team. Parent: John Kusumalayam.
Caitlyn Roig attended Shenendehowa High School where she was a College Board National Hispanic Scholar and received the NYS Public High School Scholar Athlete Award and AP Scholar Award. She is studying biochemistry at Binghamton University, and pre-med courses. Roig participated in various programs at St. Peter’s Hospital including the Cancer Care Center, and volunteered at the Journey Through the Body exhibit. She was a captain youth ambassador for CAPteens, a youth development program involving community service, and offered her time and talents at the Tri-City India Association, an organization that celebrates people of Indian origin through various events. She plays soccer, enjoys music and dining out. Parent: Jennifer Roig.
Katie Serencsics will be exploring various fields of study at Smith College, a liberal arts college in Northampton, MA. She was named commended student in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Program at Our Lady of Lourdes High School. She received the St. Thomas More Award in recognition of academic achievement and intellectual promise and a Scholar Athlete Award. Serencsics participated in dozens of community service efforts including a clothing drive for the children of Abraham House, collecting candy for Operation Gratitude which provides care packages for U.S. military members and played integral fundraising roles for the Special Olympics and other organizations. She enjoys crew, reading and movies. Parent: Ellen Serencsics.
Kayla Wesley was valedictorian at Johnstown High School, where she also received the prestigious Rensselaer Medal Award, given to one student for exceptional excellence in math and science. She was a National Honors Society member, earned awards for physics, Spanish and the Johnstown Citizen’s Band Award. She will study pharmaceutical sciences at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences that awarded her the Valedictorian and Presidential Scholarships. Wesley has participated in marching bands, played taps for a Veterans’ Day ceremony, sang holiday carols at a nursing home, made blankets for a dialysis center, and helped clean a highway .She likes to write, plays piano and field hockey. Parents: Gregory and Stacy Ann Wesley.
Isabella Wu graduated with the highest honors at Guilderland High School. She is an AP Scholar, received a New York State Association Scholar Athlete Award for varsity volleyball, and a SUNY Albany Multicultural Achiever Award. Wu will be studying psychology and biology at Villanova University, Honors Program. She has volunteered at the Guilderland Library, as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and with The MoonCatcher Project, an organization dedicated to keeping third-world girls in schools by supplying feminine product kits. She enjoys creative writing, yoga, and plays the clarinet for the Empire State Youth Orchestra. Parent: Ping Wu.