2014-2015 Scholarship Recipients

Chelsea AustinChelsea Austin
Attending Three Rivers Community College
Field of Interest: Business Administration
CONNTAC Representative: Gloria Dover

Chelsea is a mother of six children, and she is determined to be someone that her children can look up to and follow in her footsteps. After experiencing obstacles including, she and her husband being laid off in 2011, she found herself with little ambition and security. Then, in 2012, her oldest child went off to college and her youngest child started kindergarten. She knew that it was the perfect time to continue her education. In addition to her studies, Chelsea is in the work-study program at TRCC, and she is the youth group leader at Prince of Peace Church. She expresses gratitude for her CONNTAC Counselor, Gloria Dover, for discussing scholarship opportunities with her and how to apply. “Gloria has inspired and encouraged me every step of the way. She has instilled in me the drive to continue to succeed in the pursuit of my goals.” She explains that the scholarship will assist her with tuition and college costs.

Hope BaumHope Baum
Attending Charter Oak State College
Field of Interest: Psychology
CONNTAC Representative: Maldresa Pu’Sey

Hope graduated from Manchester Community College last year, and she is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a concentration in Social/ Behavioral at Charter Oak State College. In 2012, she was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. She ended up taking a few semesters off from college in order to receive numerous cycles of chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments. As a divorced, single mother of five children, she was determined to return to college with the support and encouragement of her children. Hope explains that she works extremely hard to balance her college education, her children’s education, and life. Through all of her hardships, she is committed to becoming a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist so that she can help families. Hope shares that the scholarship will help her with rent, utilities, books, and a new laptop.

Dewayne DemaceDewayne Demace
Attending Gateway Community College
Field of Interest: Social Work
CONNTAC Representative: Margarita (Daisy) Aiken

Dewayne is a first-year student at Gateway Community College. He has had to reside with his grandmother because his father is incarcerated and his mother is battling cancer. Dewayne is the first person in his family to attend college, and he looks forward to providing a better life for his family. In high school, he was a member of the Varsity Football and Track & Field Teams for all 4 years and the Basketball Team for 3 years. In addition to his involvement in athletics, he held a seasonal part-time job. Dewayne thanks his CONNTAC Counselor, Daisy Aiken, for helping him step by step with the financial aid process. “Daisy and I spoke at length regarding my education and career goals, and she offered me very valuable information that I used to guide my decisions.” Dewayne shares that the scholarship will assist him with costs associated with attending college.

Yanyi Lam
Attending Stony Brook University
Field of Interest: Chemical and Molecular Engineering
CONNTAC Representative: Margarita (Daisy) Aiken

Yanyi is a first-generation student who attends Stony Brook University in New York. After overcoming obstacles including, her arduous Physics course and time management, Yanyi managed to graduate from East Hampton High School with high honors. She juggled an extremely busy schedule working over 40 hours each week in her parents’ restaurant, being an active member on the math team and interact club, and keeping up with school and homework. She expresses gratitude to her CONNTAC Counselor, Daisy Aiken, for assisting her with the stressful college process. “Daisy and my guidance counselor helped me with completing the FAFSA and choosing a major based on my interests.” Yanyi says that working with her parents has allowed her to see how much sweat and effort they put into every dollar they earn, and the scholarship will help with college costs to reduce added strain on them.

Essence McVay
Attending Norwalk Community College
Field of Interest: Education
CONNTAC Representative: Laura Blackwell

Essence has overcome many obstacles to be where is today but she has never allowed that interfere with her education. She believes education is the key to success and that many are blessed to have it. She thanks her CONNTAC Counselor, Laura Blackwell for helping her with financial aid, fee waivers for college applications and giving advice for college. After Essence graduates Norwalk Community College, she plans to become a teacher and give her and her family a better life. She shares that this scholarship will help her with college expenses.

Elizabeth RevangilElizabeth Revangil
Attending University of Connecticut
Field of Interest: Political Science
CONNTAC Representative: Laura Blackwell

Elizabeth is a Political Science major at the University of Connecticut in Stamford. She is the youngest of five children born to Haitian natives. She explains that her parents moved to the United States to go to school and live the “American Dream.” Elizabeth says that she watched her parents sacrifice as they work full-time and attend school simultaneously. They have always encouraged their children to do their best as well, because it will lead to a brighter future. Elizabeth has made her mark on her school and the community through volunteering at the Food Bank of lower Fairfield County every Friday, volunteering at Dolan Middle School helping kids create their own newspaper, and by being a proud member of the Build On Club. She gives thanks to her CONNTAC Counselor, Laura Blackwell, for helping her with completing the FAFSA, exploring scholarship opportunities, giving career advice, and answering all of her questions. “Mrs. Blackwell’s ability to understand my situation, her patience, and her expertise has made my dream of going to college a reality.” Elizabeth says that the scholarship will assist her with purchasing books and other college necessities.

Jania RossJania Ross
Attending Central Connecticut State University
Field of Interest: Social Work
CONNTAC Representative: Margarita (Daisy) Aiken

Jania is a recent graduate of Middlesex Community College, and she currently attends Central CT State University. She describes herself as a student who had to overcome many personal obstacles in her journey of personal discovery. She explains that many adults in her life had given up on her, and forced various stereotypes upon her. She says, “I was looking for someone to believe in me for years, but because of my rebelliousness, my potential went unnoticed for quite some time. Now, I have transitioned from a defiant teenager in an alternative school who simply existed, into a young woman that strives for her future and stands up for others.” Jania enjoys extracurricular activities including, singing in the choir, reading in the book club, and photography. She expresses extreme gratitude for her CONNTAC Counselor, Daisy Aiken, for providing a fee waiver for her college application and reassuring her in her transition from MxCC to CCSU. “Daisy made the experience and any worries that I had about the opportunity vanish within minutes of talking with her. Her smile is one that I will always remember.” Jania shares that the scholarship will help her alleviate some of the financial burden that she is experiencing.

Nashay SmithNashay Smith
Attending University of Connecticut
Field of Interest: Communications
CONNTAC Representative: Jay Holley

Nashay transferred from Manchester Community College after earning her Associate”s degree and is now in her first semester at the University of Connecticut. In 2009, her father passed away in a car accident. The following year, her mother was laid off from her job and the family began to struggle financially. Nashay did not allow the financial hardships to derail her education, career, and personal goals. She worked at the Kevin Ollie Summer Basketball Camp, and she has applied to be manager of the UConn Men’s Basketball team. Nashay also volunteers at the Greater Hartford Pro-Am and the Doc Hurley Basketball Tournament every year. Additionally, she has volunteered at the Evening of Fine Wines and held the Treasurer’s position of the Student Government Association at Manchester Community College. She expresses appreciation for her CONNTAC Counselor, Jay Holley, for providing application fee waivers and for offering advice regarding information about the colleges she applied to, financial aid, and grades. She shares that the scholarship will assist with the cost of tuition.

Ronald TaskerRonald Tasker
Attending Manchester Community College
Field of Interest: Drug and Alcohol Recovery Counseling
CONNTAC Representative: Ruth Baez

Ronald is a Drug and Alcohol Recovery Counseling major with ultimate dreams of earning his Master’s degree in this field that he is so passionate about. He has been faced with numerous obstacles as he is in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, he has been homeless, and he is an ex-felon. As a result of his addiction, he has lost a house, car, a wife, and jobs. Ronald has been commendably clean and sober since July 2012. He has a passion to help others coming out of prison and/or struggling with addiction integrate back into society and become productive mem- bers of society. He wants to teach them about addiction, recovery, being parents to their children, sons and daughters to their parents, and good spouses to their significant others. He credits his CONNTAC Counselor, Ruth Baez, with assisting him with applying for financial aid and getting the funding in order to make college a reality. “I am very pleased with the help that Ruth was in navigating through the process.” Ronald explains that the scholarship will help with paying for classes.

Maria TeixeiraMaria Teixeira
Attending University of Saint Joseph
Field of Interest: Special Education
CONNTAC Representative: Arlette Taylor

Maria is a Special Education major at the University of Saint Joseph who believes it is her calling to work with children with disabilities. At the age of ten, her father passed away and her mother was left to raise three children on her own. She explains that times were not easy living off of one paycheck in addition to English being her mother’s second language. Later, she experienced additional hardships as her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer during her senior year in high school. Maria stepped up to the plate as a caregiver for her mother while finishing high school and going through the college application process. She expresses extreme appreciation for her CONNTAC Counselor, Arlette Taylor, for guiding her through the application and financial aid processes. “Ms. Taylor took the time to answer every little question in order to ensure that I understood everything.” Maria explains that the scholarship will assist with the cost of tuition and books, and it will get her one step closer to being the first person in her family to graduate from college.

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