Assumption Recognizes Students’ Commitment to Service with Light the Way Scholarships
In an effort to recognize those students who are committed to making a meaningful difference in their communities, Assumption University annually awards a group of first-year students with the prestigious Light the Way Scholarship. From organizing clothing and food drives and raising awareness and funds for nonprofit organizations to mentoring their peers or youth in their hometowns, these scholars serve as an example for their classmates in the ways in which they Light the Way for others.
“A unique aspect of an Assumption University education is our commitment to providing a high-caliber, Catholic liberal arts education that forms students who use their knowledge and talents to better the world in which we live,” said University President Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D. “Infused in many classes and co-curricular activities at Assumption are community service opportunities through which students are formed as thoughtful citizens. Students chosen as Light the Way Scholars have demonstrated a desire to serve those in the greatest of need and enact positive change in the world, a quality that will allow them to flourish at Assumption and beyond.”
This year, Assumption awarded 31 Light the Way Scholarships worth up to $27,000 each, renewable for all four years. As part of the scholarship requirements, Light the Way scholars must continue to demonstrate a commitment to fulfilling the University’s mission to “Light the Way” for others. Scholars must also take the Perspectives on Global Humanitarian Relief course, which challenges students to 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 one of just a few institutions of higher learning nationwide designated as a CRS Global Campus, a partnership that is used to generate awareness of global poverty among students on campus through fundraisers and campaigns throughout the academic year.
The Class of 2024's Light the Way Scholars include:
Brenna Aylward, of Westfield, for the compassion she demonstrated towards her community and commitment to faith. In addition to volunteering with her church’s youth group, teaching CCD to children, and delivering meals to those in need, Brenna has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity Cape Cod since she was in middle school. She combined her passion for art and giving back by creating Brenna’s Birdhouses, in which she paints and sells birdhouses, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefitting Habitat for Humanity. Brenna has painted hundreds of birdhouses and raised thousands of dollars for the organization; the money she raised helped build a home for a single mom and her son.
Ryan Berthiaume, of Athol, for sharing his gifts with his community. An Eagle Scout, Ryan planned a fundraiser that raised more than $2,000 to help his church renovate its prayer garden. He also served as a peer tutor in high school and converted those skills into teaching CCD at his church.
Shaeleigh Boynton, of Wrentham, for cultivating ways to shine a spotlight on issues that affect humanity. While in high school, she served as a peer mentor for the YMCA’s Integration Initiative Program working with youth and adults with developmental disabilities in weekly sport classes; was a former ambassador for Project 351 in which she provided community outreach to address hunger and homelessness; was an applied behavior analysis (ABA) intern and assisted preschoolers within Wrentham Public Schools; and volunteered both locally and nationally with the Catholic Youth in Action organization.
Catherine Brouillard, of Leicester, for organizing a school supply collection to help fellow students in need. Four years ago, Catherine and a group of friends created Crayons2Calculators of Leicester, in which they collaborated with local businesses to collect school supplies that were then distributed through a partnership with a local food pantry. Crayons2Calculators has provided each of the Leicester schools with ample school supplies and provided cash donations to purchase teacher-requested books for classrooms.
Chloe Callahan, of Danvers, for supporting her community through involvement in DanversCARES, a community program that supports youth and families in making healthy decisions. Chloe, who holds a seat on the organization’s board, has spearheaded public awareness campaigns on issues prevalent amongst teenagers, such as stress, mental illness, and substance addiction. Her proudest achievements include organizing an annual opiate awareness walk, an anti-vaping advocacy day, and supporting a Kindness for Colleen Day held in honor of one of her late teachers and Assumption alumna Colleen Ritzer ’11.
Kaitlyn Calnan, of Medway, for giving back to her community. At a young age, Kaitlyn learned the value of helping those less fortunate in her community through participation in Girls Scouts and various youth groups, as well as by actively fundraising for the St. Vincent DePaul Society; serving as a peer counselor with the Medway Lions Club; volunteering for her church’s summer Vacation Bible School; and improving her high school environment as a member of Student Council.
Megan Canney, of Walpole, for her work in spreading awareness about bullying in school. As a Girl Scout, Megan was inspired by a bullying incident at her own school to create a project to combat negative and damaging behavior. Megan presented her project to elementary and middle school students in her hometown of Walpole and during freshman orientation at Walpole High School, with the hope that learning about bullying will empower youth with the knowledge to deal with such situations.
Elizabeth Cappelli, of North Granby, CT, for her involvement in the Guiding Eyes for the Blind puppy-raising program. For the last several years, Elizabeth and her family have helped raise four puppies—bringing them to training classes and working on house manners and socialization, among other tasks. These puppies are then given to and serve as guide dogs for individuals who are visually impaired.
Jessica Crosby, of Westfield, for amassing more than 200 community service hours, volunteering at numerous local events, including the local food pantry and teaching children and adults how to play tennis. In high school, she served as president of the community service club, treasurer for the Respect Life club, and organized a Christmas letter drive for soldiers overseas. She most recently organized a 5K run in her hometown to benefit children with cancer.
Olivia Gallo, of Leominster, for volunteering for a number of organizations, including with her town’s youth soccer team, assisting students with disabilities at her high school through the Life Skills program, and helping her church to prepare meals for the homeless. Through her involvement with Kylee’s Kare Kits for Kidz, Olivia has learned the importance of exercising compassion and kindness, as well as providing support to those in her community who suffer from food insecurity. The organization serves nearly 500 children in the Leominster area.
Annie Gillis, of Ipswich, for serving as a mentor in her community. As president of the Ipswich Advisors and Mentors Club at her high school, Annie paired more than 100 young students with a high school “buddy” so that they would have a positive role model leading them on their path in life.
Catherine Hurlburt, East Windsor, CT, for her commitment to community service. Catherine has helped her community by making bracelets to raise money for charity, serving food at the local soup kitchen, sharing her faith as a CCD teacher, and participating in Unified Volleyball and spending time with kids with intellectual disabilities after school. She also has spent the last few years mentoring a young girl with Cerebral Palsy in dance.
Katherine Ickes, of Bolton, for her involvement in Relay for Life. After participating in her first Relay for Life team as a sophomore in high school, Katherine went on to join the leadership team in which she helped plan the Nashoba Relay for Life event. She also coordinated an event at the beginning of the school year to raise awareness for her fellow high school students of the American Cancer Society and what the Relay for Life accomplishes.
Adam Ide, of Dudley, for his dedication to helping individuals with disabilities. Inspired by the relationship he has with Alex, an individual his family has been caring for since Alex was six years old, Adam has sought out opportunities to help kids access sports as a volunteer youth coach and peer mentor for rising high school football players; established a Best Buddies chapter at his high school and applied to be a mentor to a student with special needs; and participated in Unified Basketball, in which he competed with individuals with disabilities.
Olivia Kelton, of Rumford, RI, for establishing a program to help students with learning differences. Influenced by her own experience growing up with dyslexia, Olivia created the mentoring program Full Circle with two of her former schools. The purpose of the program is to build a community of support for individuals with learning differences, by having young students interact with high school students who have learning differences through games, discussions, and art.
Matthew LaBonte, of Worcester, for his commitment and desire to help those less fortunate through volunteering with organizations such as St. Vincent’s Hospital, Nazareth Home for Boys, and the Diocese of Worcester. Matthew has been involved with the Nazareth Home for Boys for as long as he can remember, collecting and delivering donations, including homemade blankets, boxes of cereal, and bags of candy and toys on Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. At St. Vincent’s, he attended to anxious patients and family members, and at the Cathedral of St. Paul, he lends his technology skills to help homebound individuals celebrate Mass by uploading the Sunday Mass to the internet.
William Laun, of Liverpool, NY, for his commitment to volunteerism. William has spent time ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, visiting patients at his local Veterans hospitals, and volunteering for Special Olympics and Make-A-Wish Foundation. He formed Team Friends as a way to honor his friend who passed away when they were seven years old; members of Team Friends shave their heads annually to raise money in her honor.
John Paul Marino, of Winchester, for honoring the dignity of others. John Paul organizes an annual duffel bag drive in his town; the bags are distributed to foster children for the purpose of packing and transporting their belongings, rather than using a trash bag. Since the death of his stillborn brother years ago, John Paul and his father have been making and donating handmade infant caskets to support and provide comfort to those grieving the loss of intrauterine or neonatal infants.
Sarah McAuliffe, of Southington, CT, for using her voice to help those who do not have one. Sarah is actively involved in her hometown and dedicated to helping youth. Sarah has directed an elementary school production, became a coach for a youth triathlon program, and volunteered in a local soup kitchen. She also helped create the Kids Who Care organization, which helps involve elementary school students to begin volunteering at the soup kitchen.
Emily McDaid, of Medford, for bridging the differences and facilitating friendships between students of all learning abilities through the creation of Common Ground. Creating this elective at her high school allowed Emily and other students to visit and interact with their fellow classmates with disabilities through weekly team-building, life-skills, and critical-thinking exercises. This program promotes the celebration of similarities rather than differences while highlighting each individual’s uniqueness.
Tasneem Mohammed, of Shrewsbury, for serving as an example to others through his many volunteer efforts. Tasneem cares deeply for his community and making a difference in the lives of others, so he seeks out volunteer opportunities to help others. He has organized and collected supplies for clothing and food drives; collected trash around his high school after school; participated in tutoring programs, and much more.
Lauren Norton, or Medway, for her selflessness and commitment to making those around her happy. Each year, Lauren seeks to raise at least $2,000 for Boston Children’s Hospital to help children in need through continued research and access to better technology.
Kelly Reynolds, of Simsbury, CT, for her dedication to helping individuals in need. Kelly participated in the Giving Tree at her church, buying gifts for children in need; raising money to buy turkeys for those who cannot afford it each Thanksgiving; and each year since 2009, when she was in second grade, Kelly has organized a bake sale, donating all proceeds to a program that provides Thanksgiving meals to those in need.
Yana Semerly, of Okemos, MI, for sharing her talents with and in support of cancer survivors. Inspired by her mother’s 2017 cancer diagnosis, Yana launched her own business, YANA, LLC, and became among the youngest individual to pass the Michigan State Board of Esthetics. A brow and arch expert and certified lash specialist, Yana helps those who have lost their eyelashes and eyebrows from chemotherapy with application techniques.
Kaitlyn Shea, of Fitchburg, for her commitment to honoring Veterans. Since the age of 12, Kaitlyn has volunteered for Wreaths Across America (WAA), which places wreaths on the graves of Veterans each December. Now, as chair of her high school’s fundraiser for WAA, she helps educate her peers as well as younger generations about the importance of recognizing and honoring Veterans. This annual fundraiser helps raise funds for the local Veterans’ Cemetery to lay wreaths on the graves of fallen soldiers.
Emily Sill, Glastonbury, CT, for her dedication to community service. In addition to a number of mission projects, Emily serves as a youth advisor for Heads Up!, a community service, faith-based summer camp in which participants complete a collection of service jobs in different settings. As an advisor, she plans team-building activities, leads group discussions, and plans the evening church services.
Ryan Singley, of Holden, for his community service efforts in helping others. Ryan has organized his own food drives to benefit the Why Me foundation as well as for Worcester fire and police stations; collected books for the Reach Out to Read program; and gathered supplies for the Worcester Animal Rescue League. In 2018, he attended a mission trip with his church to rebuild houses affected by Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
Julia Tardugno, of Methuen, for her volunteer efforts in her community. Inspired by the loss of her grandmother, Julia joined Relay for Life and began raising money for the American Cancer Society; as tri-chair, she helped her school reach its goal of $2 million. She also served as the chairperson for Debbie’s Treasure Chest, an organization that provides aid and support for at-risk families in the Merrimack Valley, collecting coats, warm clothing, sheets, and toys for children.
Molly Tempesta, of Braintree, for her leadership and volunteerism. Molly served as a student ambassador for Project 351, a statewide nonprofit organization that enlists students to enact change in the community, during which she assembled care packages, organized clothing and school supply drives, and raised money to build a park to honor the life of Martin Richards, a young boy who was killed in the Boston Marathon bombings.
Caleb White, of Tamuning, Guam, for his years of service volunteering with his local, Catholic radio station. Caleb has served as a production assistant and website developer for the station, as well as a live show co-host, through which he shared his faith and created meaningful discussions among listeners who seek to better understand their own faith.
Nicholas Zecco, of Shrewsbury, for his leadership skills. For three years, Nicholas served as a freshman advisor at high school, providing guidance to incoming students. He also was a member of Project 351, a statewide nonprofit that empower student service ambassadors to create organized community service opportunities in their cities and towns, for which he hosted a clothing drive to benefit less fortunate children.