Updates On Past Scholarship Recipients

The Thomas and Elsie Deeley Foundation is extremely proud of the accomplishments of all our scholarship recipients.   Ninety seven percent of them have graduated from college or are currently enrolled in college.  Many have gone on to earn advanced degrees, and some have earned doctoral degrees.

In this section you can find information about some of our previous scholarship recipients.   It includes their current status and selected accomplishments since graduating from college.  We hope their achievements serve as a motivation for all students!

Congratulations To Our 2021 Scholarship Recipients

The Thomas and Elsie Deeley Foundation awards between one and four scholarships each year.  Typically, multiple scholarships are awarded.  The chart below shows how the total number of scholarship recipients (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior and graduate students) has been increasing each year:


Each new scholarship recipient is assigned at least one previous scholarship recipient to serve as a mentor.  These mentors are selected either because they attended the same school or they have a related major.  They are available to answer questions about campus life, course selection, career choices, the administration of their scholarship, etc.

This year our scholarship choices and their mentors are as follows:

Aidan Knappe  – was awarded a scholarship to attend Southern Connecticut State University.  He plans to major in Nursing.  Liz DeCrisanti (2020) has volunteered to serve as his mentor.  Liz is a second year nursing student at Fairfield University and has access to former recipients who are Ph. D candidates in nursing and on the nursing faculty at Fairfield University.  Aaron Radden (2009) has also agreed to be a mentor.  Aaron graduated from Central Connecticut State University where he was an All American in Track and Field and an Academic All American.  He is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and opened his own practice in 2020.

Jillian Mike - was awarded a scholarship to attend Providence College where she plans to major in Psychology and then go on to Law School.   Christa Szantyr Chodkowski (2001) has agreed to serve as Jillian’s mentor.  Christa obtained a degree in Psychology from Fairfield University and went on to obtain her Masters at the University of Scranton.  Christa is the Principal at the Catholic Academy of Waterbury.

Benjamin Camp - was awarded a scholarship to attend the University of Scranton where he plans to major in Mechanical Engineering.  Peter Gonzalez (2005) has volunteered to be a mentor for Ben.  Peter obtained an Associate Degree in Avionics while in the Air Force and then went on to graduate from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  Peter is employed as a sales engineer at Envelop Group.

Updates On Scholarship Recipients Who Have Graduated From College

“Students who are making a difference”

Over 45 of our former scholarship recipients have graduated from college and are making their way in the world.  Of these graduates, more than half, have gone on to obtain advanced degrees!  Several of these students have also received or are working on their doctorates.  The chart below illustrates the academic achievements of these students.


Our scholarship awards are not based strictly on the basis of academic performance in high school, although it certainly is helpful to have a record of academic success.  We do not have any predetermined formula for selecting our scholarship recipients.  However, we do seem to have a slight preference for awarding scholarships to students who are the first person in their family to go to college.

The criteria we most look for is someone we feel is going to “make a difference”.  It can be because a student has a real passion for something, or demonstrates a unique set of skills (academic and/or social) that is impressive, or it could be because a student has impacted other students in a positive manner.

The majority of our scholarship awards are made to good students who were not necessarily in the top of their class.  Only about a third of our scholarship recipients were in the top 10% of their class academically.  The chart below shows the high school class rank of our scholarship recipients who have graduated from college and their academic accomplishments.


Our experience is that the primary predictor of success is not necessarily high school academic accomplishments, although that is a useful factor, but rather appears to be a drive and determination to “make a difference”.  We are both honored by and proud of the accomplishments of our scholarship recipients. They are engaged in a wide range of professional pursuits, but what they all have in common is that each of them is “making a difference” in the world. The following list provides an update of our college graduates.  The year after their name is the year they were awarded The Thomas and Elsie Deeley Foundation Scholarship.

NOTE: Maiden Names Are Used For The Women Scholarship Recipients

NOTE: Names Highlighted In Pink Are Past Scholarship Recipients Who Have Volunteered To Serve As A Mentor For One Or More Of Our New Scholarship Recipients

Valerie Moore (1996) – While at Fairfield University, she spent her junior year abroad in Japan and speaks Japanese. After graduating from Fairfield with a double major in International Business and Management Information Systems, she spent several years at G.E. and moved on to work for U.N.I.C.E.F at the United Nations. She joined International Turbo Systems, Inc. as their Vice President of Strategy and Client Solutions.

Rocco Guerrera (1997) – Graduated from Fairfield University with a degree in Accounting and went on to obtain his MBA from Fairfield and later obtained his C.P.A. He began his career working for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a national accounting firm, and is now a Partner at Simione, Macca and Larrow, a regional accounting firm.

Christine Lamas (1999) – After graduating from Fairfield University, she obtained her Master’s Degree from Florida State University in Psychology and is working as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst with Cooperative Education Services.  She is working in two areas: the first is as a coordinator of their continuing education in school settings, and the second is bringing training and support to the parents of middle and high school students using a multi-disciplinary approach with social workers, speech pathologists, etc.

Julian Saavedra (2000) – Graduated from Fairfield University, where he obtained a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).  After graduating he went on to teach in China after which he taught 8th grade social studies at a KIPP Charter School in the Philadelphia area.   KIPP is a nationally acclaimed network of 162 free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools dedicated to preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and life. He was recognized as a top black educator in the city of Philadelphia.  He is a Founding Director of Social Studies at Belmont Charter School in West Philadelphia.  Julian recently appeared on the ABC TV game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” and won $30,000!  You can watch Julian play and win by clicking on this site: “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”.

Christa Szantyr (2001) – After graduating from Fairfield University with a degree in Psychology, she went on to obtain her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Scranton. She was a middle school teacher in Bristol, Connecticut, the Principal at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel grammar school in Meriden, CT, and is currently the Principal of The Catholic Academy of Waterbury, a heritage school of Blessed Sacrament and St. Mary’s grammar schools.

Dr. Jenna LoGiudice (2002) – Completed her undergraduate work at Fairfield University, where she obtained a B.S. in Nursing. She went on to obtain her Master’s in Nursing from Yale University and completed her Ph. D. from the University of Connecticut School of Nursing in 2014. She is a tenure track Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing at Fairfield University, where she was selected as the Undergraduate Teacher of the Year. She is also a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) and was recently named the Director of the new Doctor of Nursing Program in Nurse Midwifery; she was instrumental in establishing this program at Fairfield University.  You can read more about this innovative program at “New Midwifery Program”.

Rob Guererra (2003) – While completing his degree in Communications at Quinnipiac University, he worked as an intern at ESPN. After graduation, he went on to full time employment with ESPN and became a production assistant on the “Mike and Mike” show. He switched to NBC Sports Radio, where he became the producer of the “Erik Kusselias Show” and was the producer of “Pro Football Talk Live (PFT)” with Mike Florio and later Chris Simms. This radio broadcast was on from 6-9 AM with the last two hours being simulcast on the cable TV channel NBCSN.  Rob is now with SB Nation where he is is cohosting podcasts on the San Francisco 49ers and the NFL.

Stephanie LeStage (2003) – Graduated from Central Connecticut State University with a degree in Psychology and Sociology. She was working for a law firm specializing in intellectual property before she decided to take some time off to raise her children.

Erik Johnson (2003) – Graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in English Language and Literature. He is currently employed as a Sales Consultant at Blasius Chevrolet and Cadillac in Waterbury.

Matt Alspaugh (2003) – After completing his undergraduate work at Southern Connecticut State University with a major in Media Studies and a minor in Creative Writing, he went on to perform standup comedy, improvisational comedy and directed comedic performances in both New York City and Austin, TX.  He is currently a recruiter for Atmosphere TV in Austin, TX and has his own podcast, “Saturday Night Characters”.

Alexei Bachuretz (2004) – After transferring from Quinnipiac University, he graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a degree in Exercise Science.  He was formerly the Health and Wellness Director and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist at the Westport Connecticut Weston Family Y and is a Healthcare Partner Engagement Specialist at Aya Healthcare.

Eric Ellis (2004) – Graduated from Hampton University with a degree in Political Science and obtained a Master’s in Labor and Industrial Management from the University of New Haven. He has held a series of positions in the recruiting profession.  Eric is employed as a Talent Acquisition Partner at Coalfire, a cyber security consulting firm.

Kanping Zhong (2004) - After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Actuarial Science, he moved to China, where he served as a Loan Administration Officer for the Hang Seng Bank. He relocated to New York, where he was a Credit Analyst for the New York Business Development Corporation.  He enrolled in an MBA program at the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business.

Jessica Bell (2005) – Since graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Medical Technology, she has been working as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist at Quest Diagnostics and is also continuing her education.  She received her MLS (Medical Laboratory Scientist) certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP). In addition, she started her own apparel company in 2013, “Always A Lady”.

Peter Gonzalez (2005) – After enrolling at Southern Connecticut State University for a semester, he withdrew and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, where he received multiple promotions and became one of its youngest Staff Sergeants. While in the Air Force, he obtained an Associate Degree in Avionics Systems. After his discharge from the Air Force, he enrolled in an engineering program at the University of Central Florida and received his degree in Mechanical Engineering in December 2019.  After his educational benefits under the G.I. Bill were exhausted, we were delighted to reinstate his scholarship to help him complete his education.  He is employed by TMSC, the world’s leading semiconductor foundry.   We are extremely proud of Peter and his 14 year pursuit of a college degree – he is truly making a difference!

Marisa Mango (2005) – Graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a degree in Psychology and a concentration in Mental Health. Since graduating, she has been employed by NAFI CT (North American Family Institute Connecticut), where she received the employee of the year award for her group home and residential services. She has held several positions and was a Foster Parent Recruiter and Trainer for the organization. She is currently employed as an assistant underwriter for Liberty Mutual and working towards her Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) certification.

David Bedard (2006) – Graduated from the University of Rhode Island (URI), where he was Student Body President and the President of Zeta Tau Fraternity. He withdrew from college before completing his degree and after an extended hiatus and with additional scholarship aid from the Deeley Foundation, he completed his degree in 2015 at URI in Political Science with a minor in Economics.  He relocated to New Hampshire and was working as a Pharmacy Tech at Lakes Region General Hospital while he took courses to obtain his teaching certification.  David is now teaching mathematics at Franklin High School in New Hampshire and is the head basketball coach.

Maegen Blankenschen (2006) – Graduated from Southern Connecticut State University, where she spent a summer in The Washington Center’s Political Leadership Internship Program. Since graduation, she has held a variety of management jobs in the private and public sector and is currently the Workplace Development Supervisor at CORT Furniture.

Chavonne White (2006) – After graduating from Southern Connecticut State University, she went on to obtain her Master’s in Social Work from Fordham University. She recently took a position as a school social worker at Amistad Academy in New Haven, CT. The school is a college preparatory charter school created by an organization called Achievement First.  The mission of this organization is to open schools in inner cities and provide top education and services to low-income communities.

Melanie Deziel (2008) – Graduated from the University of Connecticut, where she was the editor of the student newspaper and obtained a degree in Journalism. She went on to obtain her Master’s in Journalism at Syracuse University. She has worked at The Huffington Post; The New York Times, as their Digital Branded Content Editor; and as a Creative Strategist for Time Inc.’s native advertising and editorial innovation teams. She was the recipient of several awards for her New York Times project, “Women Inmates”, developed in support of “Orange Is The New Black” series for Netflix. She is the founder of MDeziel Media, the creator of The Overlap League newsletter, and an international speaker on how storytelling and advertising can be combined to create branded digital content.  She recently founded a new company, Story Fuel, to help clients tell better stories about their products and authored a book about creating digital branded content, “The Content Fuel Framework – How To Generate Unlimited Story Ideas”.

Steven Naylor (2008) – After graduating from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, where he served as the Vice President of the Student Government, he joined the United States Coast Guard and was commissioned as an officer in June 2014. He served aboard a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter on the southeast coast of the United States and was selected to participate in the Navy/Coast Guard Officer Exchange Program where he spent two years assigned to a U.S. Navy destroyer and has been involved in counter drug operations for the Coast Guard.  He recently took command of the Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) Robert Ward, manned with four officers and a crew of 20, and is deployed on the west coast of the United States.

Dr. Daniel Camacho DMD (2009) – Completed his undergraduate work as a pre-dental major at the University of Connecticut. He graduated as a Rowe Honors Scholar, with a degree in Molecular and Cell Biology. His undergraduate thesis was titled “Characterization of Drosophila Interacting Genes: Elucidating the Mechanism(s) of PolyQ Toxicity in Huntington’s Disease”. After graduation he received a full scholarship to the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine and spent time with members of the UConn staff operating a free dental clinic in Grenada.  Dan graduated in 2017 and enrolled in an advanced program as an Orthodontics Resident at Seton Hill University.

Aaron Radden (2009) – Graduated from Central Connecticut State University with a degree in Psychology, where he was a 2nd Team All American in Track and an Academic All American. He visited Kenya with his track coach and adopted several schools in the country by providing tuition, school uniforms, school supplies, and food to children who otherwise would have no access to these essentials. He completed his Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling (MFT) at Central Connecticut State University and was employed as a Program Director at Community Health Resources in Connecticut.  He is doing research on predictive causes of dysfunction in families.  He is a licensed LMFT and opened his own practice in 2020.

Legairre Radden (2009) – Graduated from Central Connecticut State University, where he was at the top of his class with a 4.0 G.P.A., was Senior Class President, and was the recipient of both the President’s Citation and Dean’s Citation awards. After graduation, he received a research assistantship to work towards his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Wesleyan University. He is a Research Scientist at Boehringer Ingelheim working on human immune diseases. He has published several peer reviewed papers on various scientific research topics and has his name on a patent. He also continues to work towards his Ph.D.

Michael Strumski (2010) – Graduated from the University of Connecticut with a 3.7 G.P.A. while also working as an intern in the Sacred Heart High School guidance department. He recently received his Master’s degree in School Counseling from Southern Connecticut State University.  He recently accepted a job in the Guidance Department at Platt High School in Meriden, CT, working with high risk freshmen students.

Dr. Alexandra McDonald (2010) – Recently graduated from a six-year degree program at the Massachusetts College Of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, where she received her Doctorate in Pharmacy (Pharm D.). She passed her NAPLEX test to become a registered pharmacist and is currently the Pharmacy Manager at the busiest CVS in Boston.  She recently was selected to become a district manager and is training for that new opportunity.

Henry Sahn (2010) – Graduated from Quinnipiac University and after graduation coached the Sacred Heart High School girls soccer team, became a certified Emergency Medical Technician, and was enrolled in the Master’s program for Public Health at Southern Connecticut State University.  He is now in his second year of Medical School at the Ross University School of Medicine in Barbados.

Andre Gary (2010) - While attending the University of Connecticut, where he graduated with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, he was a cofounder and captain of the ENCORE Hip Hop and Contemporary Dance Team. He began his dance career working as a member of the Dana Foglia Dance Company.  You can watch Andre perform in this short YouTube video Dana Foglia Dance Performance.  Andre has toured with Paula Abdul and has appeared with her on the James Corden Show.   He has also danced with Beyoncé.

Dr. Deanna Rosa (2011) – Graduated from Fairfield University School of Nursing, where one of our previous scholarship recipients, Dr. Jenna LoGiudice (2002), was one of her nursing professors! She maintained a G.P.A. of 3.69 throughout her four years and obtained her Ph. D. in Nursing from Fairfield University in the Family Nurse Practitioner program.  She formerly worked at Yale New Haven Hospital as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit and is now employed at Pediatric Healthcare Associates.

Kaitlyn “Kate” Dwyer (2011) – Maintained a 3.8 G.P.A. as a double major in Communications and English from Central Connecticut State University. She was captain of the Women’s Swimming and Diving Team and led the team to the NEC Swimming and Diving Championships. She holds several diving records and was also named to Traveler’s All Academic Team. She is currently a GovTech Marketing Partner at Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Jake Martin (2012) - Graduated from Gordon College with honors in Business. He was a four year starter on the lacrosse team and named to the all Commonwealth Coast Conference team, where he led the team in scoring with 49 goals. He began his career working for Curriculum Associates, an educational software company, and is now the Customer Success Manager at Reti360.

Kim Grendzinski (2012) – Was a Dean’s List student at the University of Connecticut, where she obtained a degree in Animal Science. While at school, she participated in several research studies to improve herd growth and health.  After graduation, she worked at the Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park, at the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, New York and is currently a zookeeper for New York City’s Central Park Zoo.  Kim’s passion for working with animals was featured in an article in the “UConn Magazine”.

Dionne Parker (2013) – Was a Dean’s List student at Coastal Carolina University, where she obtained a degree in Public Health. While at school, she played intramural sports, worked as an athletic manager, and was a walk-on for the Coastal Carolina’s Division I Women’s Basketball Team. She was named the assistant coach of the women’s basketball team at Lake Superior State University in Michigan and was the head coach of the junior varsity team.  She is a Fitness Coordinator at the Morrison Family Y.M.C.A.  She is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Health and Social Work.

Haley Iannantuoni (2013) – She switched majors and it took her two additional years before obtaining her degree in Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University. She recently received her Master’s degree from Southern with a GPA of over 3.9.  She received recognition for her blog post on “The (I’m) Possible Project”, and this recognition prompted her to consider writing a book about mental health.  She has taken a job at a teen rehab center and is certified as a sexual assault crisis counselor; she volunteers on the national sexual assault hotline for 24 hours a month. 

Molly Murphy (2013)  – Graduated with a degree in Marketing from Southern Connecticut State University, where she was the Vice President of SUMA (Southern Undergraduate Marketing Association).  She accepted a position as a Graduate Admissions Advisor at Boston University and  received her Master’s in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Boston University.  She is now the Assistant Director of Graduate Recruitment at Southern Connecticut State University.

Brian Luis (2014) – Graduated from Boston University, where he majored in Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in robotics and went on to obtain his Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.  He completed an internship at Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, CT.  At the end of his internship, Sikorsky sponsored a design competition among the interns, and Brian, along with four other interns, placed first among 10 teams.  Their prize for winning was a helicopter lesson, and Brian was able to fly in a helicopter with an instructor!  He is employed by Boston Scientific in Massachusetts as a Research and Development Engineer, where he is working on developing new products in the area of health care.

Meaghan Spagnolo (2015) – Graduated from Southern Connecticut State University, where she was a member of the women’s Swimming and Diving Team.  She obtained her degree in Athletic Training.  Meaghan is attending the University of New Mexico as a Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer for the Swimming and Diving and Football teams while she works towards her Master’s.

Brandon Arnold (2015) – Graduated from the University of Connecticut with a focus on Student Affairs and was involved in RA (Resident Advisor) management.  This summer he is working as an intern at Kansas State University. In the fall he will become a candidate for a Master’s in Student Affairs Administration at Michigan State University and will also assume the duties as the Assistant Community Director for Residential Education and Housing Services.  Brandon was named the Max Raines Outstanding First Year Graduate Student within his program. He is the New Student Programs Coordinator in the Office of New Student and Family Programs at Temple University.

Cecilia Lopez (2015) - After changing majors that required an extra year of study, she graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Health Science,  She was accepted into a dietitian internship with the Western Connecticut Health Network and is planning to become a certified dietitian.

Kerryan Ashley (2015) – After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Health Science.  She was accepted into a Master’s program at Quinnipiac University. She completed her Master’s in Biomedical Sciences at Quinnipiac University and is planning to enroll in medical school.

 Jake Rinaldi (2016) - After completing his Bachelor’s degree at Williams College, where he spent time studying in China, he received an internship at CICC, one of China’s largest banks.  He recently was named a Herchel Smith Fellow with a full scholarship to the University of Cambridge for a graduate program in the United Kingdom and is enrolled there in the Fall of 2020.

Ireland Gilmore (2016) - Graduated from the University of Connecticut in just 3 1/2 years as a Dean’s List student.  She was awarded an Assistantship at Central Connecticut State University to continue her education towards a Master’s in Guidance.

Eunices Franco (2016) - Graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Health Science and was a Dean’s List student.  She has been admitted to a Master’s program in Public Health at UConn.

Heather Brown (2017) - Graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Bioengineering and was a Dean’s List student. She has accepted a job with Entegris in Danbury, CT. The role is a 3 year rotational program called the “Engineering Leadership Development Program” in which she will be learning a new role each year. The first year is Quality Engineering, the second year is Research & Development, and the third is Manufacturing.

Jatorra Jackson (2017) - Graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Political Science and has taken a position with the Connecticut Supreme Court.  She plans to enroll in Law School.

Erin Brown (2017) - Graduated from Central Connecticut State University with a degree in Graphic Design.  She was the Captain of the Women’s Swim and Diving Team, where she specialized in the 200 backstroke and 100 butterfly.  She is employed at Vanderblue Team as a Marketing Coordinator.