Matthew Quinones, CEO
2019 Scholarship Recipients
Every student who applied this year was exceptional. Learning about these impressive young adults is our favorite part of the year, as they give us optimism for the future. The Selection Committee once again wished we could have awarded more.
We are proud to announce our wonderful 2019 Scholarship recipients:
Shayna Druckman and Alyssa Goldberg!
Shayna Druckman (Stamford High School) is passionate about education. Her compassion, drive, and leadership skills are inspirational. Not only has she been the top student in her class of 330 while taking a difficult and well-rounded course load, but she has been a dedicated social activist, advocate, mentor, and natural at politics. Her teachers praise her for often taking a helpful leadership role in discussions, and sometimes even providing effective “study guides” to assist her classmates. She was a student lead for the Stamford March for Our Lives rally, and she founded her school’s chapter of Students Demand Action on Gun Violence, which coordinates awareness events and voter registration drives. In 2018, she interned for Representative Matt Blumenthal’s successful campaign for the Connecticut House of Representatives. She phonebanked, canvassed door-to-door, researched issues, helped his staff organize events on weekends, educated people on his policy positions and background, and generally went “above and beyond the call of duty.” Blumenthal was most impressed with Shayna, and said: “Her positive attitude inspires others to follow her.”
For the past 2 years, Shayna was the President of Friendly Faces, which creates integrative activities with special needs students. She has been a K-5 tutor for Interact (branch of the Rotary Club), a counselor for a preschool camp, a middle school STEM mentor, a teacher’s assistant, and a mentor for high school freshmen. She has also been a member of the Environmental Action Club, and for the past 3 years she has served on the Abilis Youth Board, a multi-school/city board that raises funds and creates events to enrich the lives of disabled individuals. To top it all off, she has been editor-in-chief of her school newspaper. Not to mention a competitive team dancer.
Shayna’s next stop is George Washington University, where she’ll major in Human Services & Social Justice with a minor in STEM Education. She hopes to become a teacher, and eventually work in the broader education and nonprofit fields on policy, curriculum design, and advocacy.
NOTE: Shayna is not only the sort of remarkable young adult focused on education whom Ellen would have loved to help out however she could, but it’s especially meaningful that Shayna’s first political campaign experience was with Rep. Blumenthal. Blumenthal’s father, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, was one of Ellen’s favorite politicians, whose career she helped advise from the start.
Click here to see a brief video of Rep. Blumenthal presenting Shayna with her scholarship.
Alyssa Goldberg (Westhill High School) is driven by a passion for making the world a better and safer place. In addition to excelling academically and working various jobs, she’s a natural leader who has dedicated herself to public service, activism, and journalism. In the wake of the 2018 Parkland tragedy, she was Head Student Organizer of the Stamford March for Our Lives rally, which focused on gun violence in schools (and even included an impromptu live performance by the legendary Paul Simon). Her speech there was powerful. She also organized a voter registration day and spoke at a related press conference on gun violence, and co-organized her school’s National School Walkout (on the same theme), which teachers described as “respectful and successful.” One of Alyssa’s primary passions is promoting mental health care and destigmatizing mental illness. In 2017, she was one of the very few student speakers at the Conference on Advancing School Mental Health in Washington, DC. Starting in 2018, she has served on U.S. Representative Jim Himes’ Youth Advisory Council, which helps develop, implement and further understand public policy. She has also been an executive member of the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council, which focuses on serious issues affecting teens, and she formed a related discussion group for her peers, called “MYLC Unplugged.” She has also been the Vice President of the Westhill Feminist Club (founded by one of our prior recipients), and helped organize a school-funded trip to the Women’s March Alliance in New York City. In addition to all this, her extracurricular activities include being a reporter for the school newspaper since 2015, playing JV basketball, and studying/performing dance (advanced hip-hop). But most of all, Alyssa is committed to public service, and plans to keep improving people’s lives through social activism, education, and the political process.
Alyssa is next headed to New York University, where she will study Politics with a minor in Psychology. She then plans to go to law school, with the long-term goal of serving in the United States Congress. Just as Ellen would have, we look forward to following her first campaign!
2018 Scholarship Recipients
Another impressive group of students applied in 2018. Learning about these remarkable young adults again makes us optimistic about the future. As always, we wanted to award more, but the Selection Committee could only choose two.
Congratulations to our amazing 2018 Scholarship recipients:
Brianna Jean and Samantha Hamilton!
Brianna Jean (Stamford High School) is a natural leader with a passion for making the world a better place. She's also a very high-achieving student with diverse interests, who puts herself fully into everything she does, always with a can-do attitude. As a member of the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council, she donated her time and voice to help raise awareness of various issues affecting young people. One of the issues she cares deeply about is gun violence. In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, FL, she and several of her peers started an official school organization and fund dedicated to enhancing security measures and getting classmates involved in both raising funds and affecting policy. She and her fellow students worked with and proposed policy ideas to the principal and ultimately the Mayor, with success. She also delivered a speech about gun violence at the Stamford March for Our Lives 2018. Among Brianna's other activities: she was an editor, reporter, and the Social Media Coordinator of the school newspaper; a key member of the Debate team; Vice President of Publicity for Drama; and Vice President of the Tri-M Music Honor Society. She's also an award-winning monologue writer and actress, and an accomplished violinist and poet.
Brianna is next off to Yale College to study law. She hopes to pursue a career in state public policy as a legislative lawyer, while continuing to work in public service. We're honored to be able to recognize and help support her commitment to public service, as Ellen would have been.
Samantha Hamilton (Westhill High School) started her first petition in third grade. (Ellen would have loved her for that alone.) In high school, she was the first freshman at Westhill to propose a new official school organization: the Westhill Feminist Club. It was denied approval the first two years, but nevertheless, she persisted. Once the club was formed, Samantha and her fellow members advocated for students' needs, organized a bus trip to the Women’s March on Washington, helped raise awareness of important issues (including safety for young women and policies being proposed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos), and offered resources and support for fellow students. It’s notable that even though she was founder and president of the club, Samantha always speaks of “we” when discussing their accomplishments. She’s a leader who values teamwork. She was also a founding member of the Student Union for Political Engagement and Representation (SUPER), formed with students from other local high schools in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. Despite their differing political views, they worked together in the common interest of giving students a platform to express their thoughts. She also helped organize and spoke at the Stamford March for Our Lives 2018. Among Samantha’s other activities: she was a lead intern on the successful campaign to reelect Mayor David Martin; a member of the Debate team; active in school sports (lacrosse and volleyball); won the American Scholastic Press Association Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting; and volunteered for neighborhood clean-ups, youth organization initiatives, food drives and mentorship programs. It was while canvassing door-to-door for the mayor's reelection campaign that she really got to see and hear the concerns of the community, appreciate how government can directly impact people’s lives, and learn how anyone make a positive difference.
Samantha is headed to American University to study political science (in a major that spans communications, law, economics, and government), and plans to minor in environmental studies. She hopes to get an internship in Congress or the White House while in college, and ultimately to work in a public service role where she can help change public policy, stand up to injustice, and advocate for equal rights and other causes she’s passionate about. Ellen shared her passions, and we're thrilled to be able to award Samantha with this scholarship.
2017 was a record year for impressive applicants! We truly wish we could have awarded more. But the Selection Committee made a unique decision this year, and awarded the Scholarship to THREE amazing students:
Mariel Barocas, Minasdine Rene and Jennifer Gorski. Congratulations! While each is active in a broad range of public service, their primary emphases are in politics, healthcare and education, respectively. Thank you to everyone who applied. Learning about you increased our optimism for the future.
Mariel Barocas (Stamford High School) is a remarkable student whose commitment to public service and natural leadership skills shine through in all of her activities. She was a staff writer and opinion section editor for the SHS newspaper, class treasurer for four years, National Honor Society treasurer, performer in plays and musicals, JV volleyball player, ski instructor, intern for political campaigns, and also a dedicated volunteer — having worked with the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council, taught ESL, and helped with construction work and teaching children on a service trip to Laos. Politics is her passion. While interning for State Representative William Tong during his successful 2016 reelection campaign (in a competitive swing district), she was so extraordinarily skilled and hard-working that she was swiftly promoted to Campaign Coordinator — and ultimately became his Campaign Manager. Really.
Mariel is headed to Yale University to study Ethics, Politics and Economics, and looks forward to making societal change through politics. She exemplifies the positive view of politics as a tool for improving the world that Ellen felt so strongly about, and we’re delighted to help support her efforts with the scholarship that bears Ellen’s name.
Minasdine Rene (Stamford High School) cares deeply about helping others and the community at large. Having grown up thinking it was normal for people to die due to lack of hygiene and inadequate healthcare, she moved to the United States in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and came to understand she had lived in an underserved community. She worked hard to put herself through a rigorous advanced academic track, while always making time to serve others. Whether volunteering with BuildOn, mentoring fifth-graders via SPEF, founding and running a school club to help motivate other students to both succeed and get involved in public service themselves, helping classmates struggling with English as a second language, advocating on behalf of her classmates to the Board of Education, volunteering with a top pediatrician at Stamford Hospital, or working with various other organizations, Minasdine’s energy and optimism seem boundless. And she still manages to thrive academically and pursue her other interests and work — including singing, teaching and playing violin (as a member of the Stamford Young Artist Philharmonic and Tri-M Music National Honor Society), being a Track and Field senior captain, and more. As one teacher put it, she’s everything you want to see in young adults, all rolled into one: she’s compassionate, generous, responsible, intelligent, talented, humble, and tirelessly passionate about helping to make others’ lives better.
Minasdine will study Nursing at Fairfield University, with the goal of becoming an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse and ultimately being part of the solution to our growing healthcare crisis — while also periodically returning to Haiti to serve as a healthcare volunteer for those in need. Her commitment to public service will continue to make the world a better place, and we’re greatly honored to be able to award her the Ellen Camhi Memorial Scholarship for Public Service.
Jennifer Gorski (Westhill High School) is passionate about making a positive difference in the lives of others. Thoughtful, empathetic, optimistic and tirelessly driven, she not only continuously challenges herself academically, but dedicates herself to helping those in need. During high school, she was a reporter and an editor of the WHS newspaper, a published poet, an active member of her class's executive board for three years, in the National Honor Society, a volunteer with Reading Partners to help kids struggling to read (many of whom lack sufficient home support), an intern at the City of Stamford’s Economic Development Department, a volunteer on political campaigns (including U.S. Representative Jim Himes’ successful 2016 reelection campaign), and more. She’s a natural leader who knows how to get others involved, listen and inspire. She’s also a skilled fundraiser, who has worked hard to raise funds for fellow classmates as well as children and families in need.
Jennifer will study Political Science at the University of Connecticut, with a possible minor in Psychology. She eventually intends to pursue a career in education reform, with the goal of helping children who lack supportive home lives or otherwise need extra help and services. We’re thrilled to award her this Scholarship, as Ellen shared her enthusiasm and passion for public education and always strove to make it better. We look forward to seeing great things from Jennifer!
In 2016, the Selection Committee was so impressed with the applicants that two recipients were chosen: Noah Zussman and Shaina Lubliner.
Noah Zussman (Westhill High School) is passionate about public service and public policy. He's politically involved, highly intelligent and remarkably driven. His diverse activities range from editor-in-chief of his school newspaper to peer mentoring, coaching kids and volunteering for political campaigns. And he's an all-round great young man. He hopes to one day work at a U.S. Embassy or NGO focusing on economic policy and development in developing nations.
We're delighted to award Noah the Ellen Camhi Memorial Scholarship as he heads off to Tufts University to study International Relations — with a focus on International Development Economics and minor in Urban Policy & Development.
Shaina Lubliner (Stamford High School) is an impressive student whose passion is public policy, with a focus on the educational and healthcare impacts of economic policy. Among her many extracurricular activities, she has volunteered to work with special needs students, served as vice president of the National Honor Society, was the arts editor of her school newspaper, and volunteered for a state representative's reelection campaign. She hopes to earn a law degree, and eventually run for political office herself. She's sharp, witty, driven by public service, and already a skilled leader who inspires others and knows how to collaborate.
As Shaina begins her undergraduate studies at Duke University's school for Public Policy, we are thrilled to be able to help this future leader out a bit with the Ellen Camhi Memorial Scholarship.
2015 was the Scholarship's inaugural year, and the Selection Committee could not have hoped for a more impressive first recipient than Stamford High School graduate Michael Nunziante.
In addition to being a terrific student with widely diverse interests and activities, Michael has been actively involved in many public service efforts, most revolving around education and helping children. These include: president of the National Honor Society, co-editor-in-chief of his school newspaper, volunteer with the Boys & Girls Club, officer of global education for a nonprofit focused on fighting poverty and illiteracy domestically and abroad, tutor for elementary school children, and more. His greatest passion is for providing educational opportunities for those to whom they have not been available.
He began his undergraduate studies at Middlebury College in 2015, majoring in Global Studies with a concentration on community and youth development.
Ellen would have been proud that the first scholarship bearing her name went to Michael!