2019-2020 Scholarship Recipients

Rahmeik WatsonRahmeik Watson
Attending Three Rivers Community College- CT
Field of Interest: Human Services
CONNTAC Representative: Gloria Dover

Rahmeik is a Human Services major at Three Rivers Community College. He recently faced unbearable emotional and financial hardships. He became a new father in December 2019 when his daughter was born 16 weeks early with a genetic disorder. She experienced numerous complications and had to undergo two surgeries. Rahmeik and his significant other spent several weeks in hotels to be closer to their daughter. All of these challenges caused a lot of financial burden for him. He returned to work third shift commuting from North Windham to New Haven to be with his daughter at Yale New Haven Hospital. He tried to focus on school, but driving back and forth every day, trying to be an emotional support for his family and getting by on very little sleep became taxing for him. Sadly, his daughter developed pneumonia and passed away in January 2020. Despite all of these devastating hardships, Rahmeik remains determined to earn his degree. He expresses gratitude for his CONNTAC Counselor, Gloria Dover, for being a great mentor and a wonderful support. “Ms. Dover has helped me every step of the way. She is a hard worker, very helpful, and I consider her to be a mentor.” Rahmeik shares that the scholarship will help him purchase books, gas, a laptop to do his schoolwork, and motivate him to apply for other scholarship opportunities that he never thought about.

Shemroy MillerShemroy Miller
Attending Manchester Community College- CT
Field of Interest: Radiologic Science
CONNTAC Representative: Miriam Torres-Thorburn

Shane is a Computer Engineering major at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. He chose Computer Engineering because he loves to problem solve and wants to increase the representation of African Americans in Engineering. Shane, his twin brother Shawn, and two younger brothers were raised by a single mother who taught them the foundation of hard work and sacrifice. He and Shawn, took on the role of setting good examples for their younger brothers having been raised by a working, single parent. During high school, Shane held the position of Treasurer of the Youth Council and NAACP. He also attended workshops in Boston for Hearing Youth Voices to learn about restorative justice practices, black empowerment, and cultural diversity. Additionally, he interned with the Lieutenant Governor’s campaign learning about policy and government. Shane was involved in athletics to include Varsity Football, Weightlifting, Basketball, Track and Field, and Wrestling. In addition, he has completed hundreds of hours of community service helping kids with their homework at the Drop in Learning Center, and volunteering with Students Against Destructive Decisions. College is the next step for him and will allow him to expand his horizons in many ways. He expresses gratitude to his CONNTAC Counselor, Gloria Dover, for informing him about financial aid, scholarships, and for assisting him with completing the FAFSA. Shane explains the scholarship will alleviate financial stress from his mother who is supporting two children attending college at the same time.

Michelle RodriguezMichelle Rodriguez
Attending Charter Oak State College- CT
Field of Interest: Health Care Administration
CONNTAC Representative: Tomeka Williams

Michelle transferred from Manchester Community College and is in her first semester at Charter Oak State College majoring in Health Care Administration. After earning her Bachelor’s degree, she plans to pursue a Master’s degree at the University of Connecticut and become a Health Care Administrator at a hospital. She has gained experience volunteering at Hartford Hospital and is currently volunteering at CT Behavioral Health Partnership. A few of Michelle’s obstacles include having immediate family members who suffer from depression and anxiety. Additionally, one of her parents was in a workplace accident and suffered a bad head injury. Michelle explains that these challenges are complicated for her because she supports her family. In the interim, she has found it difficult to pay for her education and materials for her classes. She thanks her CONNTAC Counselor, Tomeka Williams, for providing her with application fee waivers. “Tomeka is an excellent counselor who helped me get information about this scholarship and motivated me to pursue my educational and career goals.” Michelle says that the scholarship will help her pay for classes because her financial aid does not cover the full tuition cost.

Ruth SantanaRuth Santana
Attending Goodwin College- CT
Field of Interest: Human Services
CONNTAC Representative: Kelly Gomez

Ruth is a Human Services major at Goodwin College. She was recently released from prison, and is currently in a halfway house where movement is limited. Ruth shares that she knows that she can’t erase the burdens of her past, but she is grateful for all that she has learned. Her life experience has motivated her to pursue her passion of helping those suffering from addiction and incarceration like herself. Her ambition, resilience, and hunger for success have led her to evolve into a leader and a role model to others. She is grateful for her CONNTAC Counselor, Kelly Gomez, for coming to the halfway house to assist her with completing her FAFSA. “Kelly has been very encouraging and helpful throughout my transformation process.” Ruth explains that the scholarship will help her with paying off some student loans.

Christopher OrtizChristopher Ortiz
Attending Iowa State University- IA
Field of Interest: Animal Science- Pre-Vet
CONNTAC Representative: Miriam Torres-Thorburn

Christopher currently attends Iowa State University with ultimate dreams of becoming a Veterinarian. He describes undergoing personal and educational struggles throughout his high school career. He struggled to adjust with two high honors classes and later AP courses. Unfortunately, one of his instructors repeatedly told him that he was not good enough to be in his class. Additionally, his God brother sadly passed away at the age of 16. Despite the hardships, Christopher participated in various clubs and sports during high school. These extracurricular activities included, a reptile club called Kids N Kritters, the Christian Club, football and varsity team captain of the lacrosse team. He thanks his CONNTAC Counselor, Miriam Torres-Thorburn, for informing him about scholarships and providing opportunities to earn more money. “Ms. Torres-Thorburn gave me tips on scholarships. She was very helpful and informative.” Christopher shares that the scholarship will help with college tuition costs, school related supplies, and student loans.

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