Assumption Awards Scholarships to Recognize Students’ Commitment to Service
Each year, Assumption College awards the prestigious Light the Way Scholarship to incoming students who utilize their abilities to help others or make a meaningful difference in the world. From creating clubs that address a societal need, collecting clothing and food for community organizations, or traveling across the U.S. or internationally to help others in need, these scholarship recipients are a shining example of Assumption’s call to action for its students to Light the Way for others.
“A cornerstone of the Assumption College mission is forming students with thoughtful citizenship and compassionate service,” said Assumption College President Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D. “Both inside and outside the classroom, our students are encouraged to use their gifts and talents to make a difference in the communities in which they live. Students recognized with a Light the Way Scholarship embody the Assumption mission and have demonstrated a commitment to helping others, whether volunteering in the community or brainstorming innovative ideas that positively impact the world.”
This year, Assumption awarded 36 Light the Way Scholarships worth $27,000 each, renewable all four years. As part of the scholarship requirements, Light the Way scholars take Perspectives on Global Humanitarian Relief, a course designed to challenge students to understand and think deeply about global migration and the humanitarian efforts of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), one of the largest global relief aid organizations in the world. Assumption is just one of a handful of college campuses nationwide designated as a CRS Global Campus.
Learn about the work of previous Light the Way Scholarship recipients here. The Class of 2023 Light the Way Scholars are:
Erin Beckwith, of Glastonbury, CT, for her dedication and volunteerism to serving the hard of hearing. Beckwith has volunteered at Soundbridge, a school for the hard of hearing, and is focusing her studies on speech language pathology to pursue a career as an auditory verbal therapist for children who are hard of hearing.
Ava Bissanti, of Franklin, for her impact on the global community, including participation in a Global Leadership program in which she taught English to Mayan children. Bissanti’s collegiate goals include creating programs that aid children in other countries, providing them with educational and financial resources needed to thrive.
Kara Boissoneau, of Leominster, for her dedication to helping those in need, including creating a project at her high school that packaged 22,000 meals for the less fortunate in her community that were delivered during Thanksgiving time. Boissoneau also cooked meals for homeless families living in hotel rooms in her community through her involvement with the Boys and Girls Club.
Natalie Burkhard, of Cleveland, WI, for her hundreds of hours of community service with her church, 4-H Club, the Cleveland Athletic Club, the Lakeshore Humane Society, and through mission trips with Catholic Heart Workcamp. Those mission trips included community gardening in Michigan and volunteering at the Helping Hand Thrift Store in Minnesota.
Jacob Cady, of Saint Johnsbury, VT, for his efforts in the founding of Team Sullycat, a non-profit 501(c)(3) that raises funds in memory of his grandfather who died of cancer. Cady and his sister generated financial resources through a golf tournament they organize, then send the proceeds, and inspirational messages, to local community members fighting cancer.
Magalin Carroll, of Southington, CT, for her dedication to the arts and her community. In 2015, Carroll co-founded a drama club for a local elementary school that lacked arts opportunities for youth. Through the Thalberg Elementary School Drama Club (TESDC), Carroll has shared her passion for the arts while providing students with the chance to perform in organized theatrical performances—co-directed and choreographed by Carroll—before friends and families.
Julianna Cosenza, of Northford, CT, for her extensive commitment to inclusiveness through Best Buddies and Unified Sports. Cosenza was an active Best Buddies member throughout her high school career, as well as her school’s Unified Sports team in which she supported other students with disabilities. She was chosen to attend the 2018 Unified Sports National Leadership Conference to represent her school, which received national recognition as a Unified Champion Banner School, for its efforts in unifying communities with those with disabilities.
Whitney Ellis, of Groton, for her commitment and efforts to helping children in need. As a child, Ellis would donate her hair to Locks of Love and a gift to her church’s Christmas drive during the holidays. Through her involvement with the Westford Waves softball program, she and her family have sponsored a child from the Lowell area every Christmas. Ellis has also traveled to the Give Kids the World Village in Florida where she volunteered to serve children with serious illnesses. Ellis is also a member of Best Buddies, a nonprofit organization that promotes and facilitates friendships, employment, and leadership development for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Hannah Flynn, of Cranston, RI, for her dedication to inclusiveness and dedication to Best Buddies, a nonprofit organization that promotes and facilitates friendships, employment, and leadership development for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Flynn worked alongside her school administrators and attended the Best Buddies Leadership Conference in Indiana to establish her school's Best Buddies chapter—which now has 75 members—as well as facilitated the development of a local middle school chapter. Flynn is dedicated to mental health awareness and her goal is to create a high school with a safe and inclusive environment.
Emily Fontaine, of Leicester, for her efforts serving as an ambassador of the 365Z organization, which was created by the family of slain Auburn police officer and family friend Ronald Tarentino, Jr., to spread kindness in schools and communities. Fontaine participated in various acts of kindness on behalf of the organization, including working with the local police department to deliver cookies to townspeople and volunteering with the kids at Sherry’s House, an organization in Worcester that provides no-cost lodging to families while their child is receiving treatment in a New England area hospital.
Teresa Guerra, of Worcester, for her myriad efforts to better her school community. During her junior year of high school, she co-founded a UNICEF club at her school and raised $6,000 through numerous fundraisers. In addition, Guerra also initiated Doherty High School’s first student-run recycling initiative and developed an ESL program at the Midland Elementary School where students tutor children facing language barriers.
Bryce Henry, of Glastonbury, CT, for his volunteer work with animals. Henry displayed leadership in his various community service endeavors, including caring for more than 50 animals at the Lutz Children's Museum, and as a 4-H dog trainer.
Lilit Kevorkian, East Northport, NY, for her local and global efforts to raise money for and awareness of homelessness. Throughout high school, Kevorkian raised money for food pantries, organized food drives, and participated in several events that supported the homeless in the New York City area. She also traveled to her birth country of Armenia, where she spent a summer visiting orphanages and working with The Fuller Center for Housing Armenia (FCHA) to build and renovate houses for families in need. Kevorkian plans on starting a fundraiser for an orphanage in Armenia to renovate their facilities.
Nicholas Lazzaro, of Millbury, for his extensive efforts to renovate a community room at his local church. As an Eagle Scout in Troop 110, Lazzaro’s efforts created a place for various groups, such as the Boy Scouts, church choir, and Girl Scouts to have a clean, new space to carry out their work. In addition, he spearheaded a campaign for the local chapter of the National Honors Society that raised $1,500 for underprivileged children in the Millbury area.
Brian Leger, of Leominster, for his leadership and commitment to diverse service work in his community. From altar serving, mentoring young 4-H members, and working in a soup kitchen, among others, Leger feels called to help others.
Taylor Letvinchuk, of Coral Springs, FL, for her steadfast extreme dedication to her community. As a high school student, Letvinchuk completed over 500 hours of community service—exceeding the minimum required number of hours by 400. Letvinchuk served as a volunteer with The Leighan and David Rinker Campus and Place of Hope. She also assisted in the organization of welcoming students back to campus after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School shooting.
Sydney Leyden, Bedford, NH, for her advocacy to promote childhood literacy. As part of her efforts to increase awareness of this important issue, Leyden coordinated a number of book drives that collected over 5,000 books for the Reach Out and Read initiative. With a goal to educate her community on the importance of literacy, she hosted a fundraiser to purchase new books for the organization and also spends time reading to children.
Nicholas Maillet, of Phillipston, for his volunteerism with Give Kids the World and the Clayton Laine volunteer program. As a Give Kids the World Angel, Maillet serves ice cream, delivers pizza, and dresses up in costume to serve children with serious illnesses.
Julia Martin, of Pawlet, VT, for her efforts in support of Relay for Life, the Night to Shine Prom and Ronald McDonald House. Martin has been a member of Relay for Life team L.I.S.A for 10 years, which honors the mother of a close friend who passed away from cancer. She increased awareness of the event by arranging monthly bake sales at her high school and implemented a school team for Relay for Life local events.
Brendan Meehan, of Sudbury, for his service as a puppy-raiser, training dogs for certification for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). Meehan has raised CCI service dogs for over five years, which places service dogs cost-free to disabled Americans. He also works with Beacon Hospice to provide service dogs to comfort the sick.
Morgan Miller, of Templeton, for her commitment to her two uniforms: her U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) uniform and nursing home scrubs. Miller has dedicated a number of hours to volunteerism and supporting those in need. Through JROTC, Morgan has worked with the Salvation Army and has spent her school breaks and weekends volunteering at her local nursing home to bring joy to others and have an impact on her community.
Kathleen Moran, of Cheshire, CT, for her efforts towards inclusiveness through Best Buddies, a nonprofit organization that promotes and facilitates friendships, employment, and leadership development for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Moran was a member of Best Buddies throughout her high school career, through which she learned the importance of inclusion for students with disabilities. She and her best buddy, who became like a sister to her, used their bond to spread the message of inclusion not only in their school but in the broader community.
Phoebe Moulin, Worcester, for her efforts to help those battling cancer in honor of her father, Roger, a 1992 graduate of Assumption. Moulin collected gift cards and food to stock the pantry at Why Me & Sherry's House, a nonprofit organization providing services for Worcester families whose children have cancer. She also helped to organize “Chemo Craft Kits,” which involved assembling 1,000 craft kits for adult and pediatric cancer patients for the PINK Revolution organization.
Anna Mullen, of Milton, for her efforts to empower girls and work to end the sigma against mental illness. In high school, Mullen started Tulip Team, a club that provides a forum for students to speak openly about mental illness. Through her work as a counselor at Girl Power summer camp, she has helped young girls learn of their worth and encourage confidence in their talents.
Devin Normadin, of Leominster, for his extensive efforts serving veterans and his involvement in the U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC). Through JROTC, he participated in a trip to Texas to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Harvey and has also helped raise money for service dogs for veterans. In addition, the cybersecurity major is committed to helping youth navigate the internet safely; he assisted in the creation of a middle school STEM club and a high school digital citizenship course.
Lily Orr, of Ashland, for her service efforts in South Africa and replicating those efforts in Worcester. Orr traveled to South Africa with the Breaking the Barriers (BTB) club at her high school, in which her group served impoverished communities in Cape Town by helping create a “street store” for residents to shop for clothes and toiletries at no cost. Orr replicated the “street store” in Worcester, where she collected more than 200 bags filled with donations from her high school and from which local community members in need could shop.
Lydia Petit, of Rochdale, for serving those in need in her community. Petit has helped deliver meals to families during the holidays, including to the elderly through the Meals on Wheels program at Worcester Catholic Charities and residents of Gardner Rehab. When tragedy struck her community after the death of Auburn Police Officer Ronald Tarentino, Jr., she and her friends decorated the police department in blue ribbons and organized “Cookies for Cops” week, as a token of appreciation for their service to the community.
Leigh Qualter, of Marshfield, for her efforts to provide therapeutic horseback riding lessons to children and adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. With a passion for horseback riding and community service, Qualter combined her two interests when she began volunteering for a therapeutic riding program. Through these lessons, she helps make horseback riding accessible to all riders, while also helping build confidence in riders as they overcome their fears.
Alexis Ralston, of South Weymouth, for representing the best of Boston's Young People to help those in need through travel throughout Croatia, the Czech Republic, and South Africa as an ambassador of the United States.
Jordan Regan, of North Branford, CT, for her female empowerment and leadership efforts with middle-school girls and Special Olympics gymnasts. Through the workshops Regan creates at the Girls Leadership Conference, she encourages middle school girls to thrive and improve in the area of self-acceptance. And with her involvement in the Special Olympics Gymnastics program, Regan strives to show the athletes that they are capable of anything they put their minds to.
Lauren Richards, of Littleton, for her volunteerism domestically and internationally through her local Girls Scouts organization. Her efforts included giving speeches during town ceremonies and assisting the elderly in their homes in Presque Isle, ME. Richards also traveled to Costa Rica, where she planted mangrove trees in the backyard of residents who lived on deteriorating land.
Liliya Shayan, of Wayland, for her variety of volunteer efforts. As a competitive swimmer, Shayan served as a swim instructor for children at the Metrowest YMCA in Framingham and as a team leader for “Y nights” in which she worked with more than 60 children. She also volunteered as Newton Wellesley Hospital, assisting patients and health providers while raising funds and awareness for those inflicted with rare forms of cancer. Shayan spearheaded a sign language club at Wayland High School to educate her peers and raise awareness of hearing impairments.
Tessa Smith, of West Bridgewater, for her efforts to co-found a charity that provides hospitalized teenagers Christmas gifts. Realizing that teenagers are often left out of charities that collect gifts for children, Smith and her friend collaborated with Tuft’s Floating Hospital to provide a gift for each teenager through donations solicited from their community.
Melissa Staikos, of Sarasota, FL, for her efforts traveling to the landfill community, Riverton, in Kingston, Jamaica, to teach and read to primary school children, deliver meals to the elderly, and support children and those with mental disabilities in need. As president of the Florida chapter of Pivotal Directions, a nonprofit based in Wisconsin, Staikos recruited members and planned trips to Riverton, in which she participated every summer.
Abbigail Sullivan, of Andover, MN, for her volunteerism and leadership efforts. Throughout high school, Sullivan was a member of Kiwanis International, one of the world’s largest international service clubs, in which she participated in and led volunteer activities. She has been a Girl Scout for 12 years and has participated in several mission trips through her church.
Claire Waterman, of Southborough, for her service both locally and abroad. Waterman traveled to a small village in the Dominican Republic where she dug aqueducts to create a clean source of drinking water. In her local community, she has tutored and mentored children at the local Boys and Girls Club to help them succeed academically.
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