2012-2013 Scholarship Recipients

Joseph BackofenJoseph Backofen
Attending Quinebaug Valley Community College
Field of Interest: Music
CONNTAC Representative: Turquoise McBride

Joseph “Joey” Backofen is pursuing his dreams to have a career in the music field, by way of teaching, recording, or theory. He is extremely passionate about music, and he has been performing for over 15 years. Music makes him happy, so he has decided to attend Quinebaug Valley Community College majoring in music with plans to transfer to a four-year university upon completion of his Associate’s degree. Joey experienced several hardships throughout his life, including struggling with an alcohol habit, but he credits his time in rehab as the best thing that ever happened to him. He has been sober now for over 15 months, he earned his GED, and now he is pursuing his Associate’s degree. Joey is an active member of The Congregational Church of Plainfield where he is also a member of the church’s choir. In addition, he participates in community fundraisers, dinners, and events. He appreciates his CONNTAC Counselor, Turquoise McBride, for being very helpful in giving him financial aid information. “Turquoise helped me put one foot in front of the other in the right direction.” Joseph shares that the scholarship will assist him with the cost of books and other necessities that are needed for college.

Marquis BawlMarquis Bawl
Attending Middlesex Community College
Field of Interest: Business Administration
CONNTAC Representative: Widelyne Moise

Marquis is a Business Administration major at Middlesex Community College, and he plans to own his own jewelry store in the future. He is the first person in his immediate family to attend college, and he wants to set an example for the younger people in his family. After a heart to heart conversation with his mom, Marquis decided to attend college directly after high school instead of his initial plan of taking a year off to work. His determination is evident as he travels 3 hours to and from college each day in addition to holding a work-study position. He describes success as being his motivation. Marquis gives thanks to his CONNTAC Counselor, Widelyne Moise, for assisting him with the financial aid process and for being an overall supporter of his education. “Widelyne has been an aid since day one. She gives me advice, answers my questions, and she shares her experiences with me. Widelyne proves she is willing to accommodate when others are in need.” Marquis says that the scholarship will help him purchase a new computer to complete his assignments.

Kasie BouchardKasie Bouchard
Attending Quinebaug Valley Community College
Field of Interest: Business
CONNTAC Representative: Turquoise McBride

Kasie returned to school as an adult learner at EASTCONN in the National External Diploma Program (NEDP). Witnessing her parents struggle financially as she grew up and realizing that quitting school caused unnecessary obstacles in her own life, has motivated Kasie to pursue her degree so that she would have a better chance at a successful career and future. In addition, she wants her 1 year old son, Jaxon, to be proud of all of her accomplishments, follow in her footsteps, and strive for excellence in all that he does. She thanks her CONNTAC Counselor, Turquoise McBride, for assisting her with completing the FAFSA and applying for scholarships. Kasie explains that the scholarship will help her pay for school supplies, books, and gas to get to and from school.

Diana ChinDiana Chin
Attending Housatonic Community College
Field of Interest: Human Services, Behavioral and Social Sciences
CONNTAC Representative: Karen Touch

As a child, Diana was a victim of verbal abuse. She was told things like she was ugly, an idiot, and nothing good will become of her. Today, she turns that negative energy into positive actions by pursuing her degree with the ultimate goal of becoming a Clinician. A few years ago, Diana stopped working in order to care for her mother who suffered from Schizophrenia which later advanced to Alzheimer’s disease. During that period, she experienced numerous hardships including, losing her life savings, her car, and her home. Her mom was then placed in a nursing home, so Diana decided to enroll in college in pursuit of a better life. Additionally, Diana spends a great deal of her time mentoring and empowering teens, adolescents, and adults. She is grateful to her CONNTAC Counselor, Karen Touch, for providing her with financial aid assistance and for making her aware of available scholarships. “Karen is such a profound professional, and each time I enter her office, I regard doing so a privilege.” Diana shares that this scholarship will assist her with purchasing a laptop, as well as with transportation and meals.

Gilbert ChristopherGilbert Christopher
Attending Three Rivers Community College
Field of Interest: General Engineering Technology
CONNTAC Representative: Gloria Dover

Gilbert is a General Engineering Technology major at Three Rivers Community College. He is a musician and an aspiring inventor who already has a patent pending. Despite having been incarcerated a few times, being homeless, watching his mother fight through her mental illness, and losing his daughter in 2007, Gilbert exudes great determination in his pursuit of becoming a successful inventor developing his own prototypes. In addition, he recognizes the importance of leading a positive example for his two boys at home. He thanks his CONNTAC Counselor, Gloria Dover, for providing him with a fee waiver, assisting him with obtaining his GED records, and for explaining the steps he needed to follow to enroll in Three Rivers Community College. Gilbert says that the scholarship will help him with transportation and child care expenses.

Richard CrockettRichard Crockett
Attending Tunxis Community College
Field of Interest: Communications
CONNTAC Representative: Erica Coleman

Richard is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces who is pursuing a degree in Communications at Tunxis Community College. Upon discharge from the military, he was faced with many obstacles, including being unemployed and homeless. Additionally, he was not receiving the veterans’ benefits that he expected at that time. Not knowing where to turn and with very little knowledge about financial aid, Richard enrolled in a program and withdrew loans which later reached default status. He expresses sincere gratitude for his CONNTAC Counselor, Erica Coleman, for helping him resolve his defaulted student loan status and for assisting him with the enrollment and financial aid processes. “Erica is very kind, charismatic, and she is always available to answer my questions. She has been a tremendous help and support system for me. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to meet her.” Richard explains that the scholarship will help him with educational and living expenses while he pursues his education..

Melissa GabrielMelissa Gabriel
Attending Southern CT State University
Field of Interest: Podiatry
CONNTAC Representative: Laura Blackwell

Melissa currently attends Southern Connecticut State University and plans to become a successful Podiatrist. She explains that growing up in a Haitian household, she was taught that receiving a good education is the key to success. Additionally, she shares three important values which were instilled in her, church, school, and home. Tragically, Melissa lost her maternal family to the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti in January. She has coped with her loss by becoming active in organizations such as, Kids Helping Kids, Community Plates, and the Caver Program where she was able to comfort others who also experienced loss. She expresses extreme appreciation for her CONNTAC Counselor, Laura Blackwell, for providing her with fee waivers and assisting her with completing the FAFSA. “Mrs. Blackwell helped me tremendously through my college application process, which was probably one of the hardest tasks I dealt with during my senior year.” Melissa shares that she will use the scholarship to pay off some of her tuition costs because tuition is expensive, and every bit of money helps.

LeeAnn GauthierLeeAnn Gauthier
Attending Three Rivers Community College
Field of Interest: Nursing
CONNTAC Representative: Gloria Dover

Growing up in a single parent household, LeeAnn learned early on that she would face numerous financial hardships throughout her life, including not having any college funds set aside for her future. Later, she realized that these financial hardships would ultimately affect her career goals. LeeAnn has had dreams of becoming a Nurse Practitioner specializing in Neonatal Intensive Care since the age of 13. Academically, she is well on her way as she currently holds a commendable 3.5 GPA. She is also the first member of her family to attend college, so this is a huge accomplishment for her. She is grateful to her CONNTAC Counselor, Gloria Dover, for assisting her with finding the means to fund her education through federal financial aid and scholarships. “I’ve gone to Ms. Dover on numerous occasions panicking because of my financial difficulties, and she assures me that everything is going to be fine. Ms. Dover has what seems like an infinite amount of resources, and I appreciate all of her efforts beyond words.” LeeAnn says that the scholarship will help with the cost of textbooks, uniforms, proper hospital shoes, medical supplies, and transportation to assigned hospitals.

Trisana SpenceTrisana Spence
Attending Quinnipiac University
Field of Interest: English/ Psychology/Law
CONNTAC Representative: Jay Holley

Trisana moved to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica at the age of six with her family in pursuit of “hope, opportunity, and triumph.” The move turned out to be more difficult than anticipated as her mother’s professional credentials were not recognized in the U.S., so this left the family struggling with financial hardships. Additionally, she encountered a few roadblocks and even thought that college would be unattainable because she had no green card or social security number until 2011. Trisana currently attends Quinnipiac University pursuing double majors in English and Psychology. Her ultimate goal is to attend Law School upon graduation and become a Criminal Prosecutor. She shares that her desire to become a Criminal Prosecutor stems from incidents she has witnessed in her community, involving drugs, guns, and teenage pregnancy. She credits her CONNTAC Counselor, Jay Holley, for assisting her with completing her financial aid application and for spending several hours helping her analyze her financial aid package until they were able to decide which college would suit her best financially. She also thanks Jay for encouraging her to apply for a college that she believed would be a “long-shot” because she is a first generation student coming from an inner city. Trisana explains that the scholarship will help take away some of the financial burden associated with attending college.

Dilliner WilsonDilliner Wilson
Attending Housatonic Community College
Field of Interest: Human Services
CONNTAC Representative: Karen Touch

Dilliner is a Human Services major at Housatonic Community College who has plans of ultimately becoming a Counselor. Despite growing up with a learning disability, she credits her time in college with providing the resources for her to learn to read and write proficiently. She has made the Dean’s list and currently holds a respectable 3.46 GPA. During her educational journey, Dilliner became the caregiver for her sister with Cancer and also had to witness her passing. She thanks her CONNTAC Counselor, Karen Touch, for introducing her to the scholarship. “Even though my encounters with Karen were brief, she exhibited a patience, focus, and diligence that I have not previously experienced.” Dilliner says that the scholarship will assist her with purchasing a laptop, books, and transportation.

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