Anna Hadjiyiannis – Peach Orchard to PIIE Scholarship

Thursday, January 13th, 2022

Anna Hadjiyiannis

By Mackenzie Eldred*

Anna Hadjiyiannis received the 2021 Casey Feldman Foundation PIIE Scholarship and was the third recipient to have selected an internship with the nonprofit, Chef Ann Foundation, whose mission was one Anna agreed with and stood by. Through the Casey Feldman Foundation’s Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE ) scholarship program, students receive funding for a summer internship for a governmental agency or non-profit organization. Based in Boulder, CO, the Chef Ann Foundation supports school districts throughout the country by providing the resources and funding needed to provide fresh, healthy meals in school.

The Chef Ann Foundation began about 10 years ago when Chef Ann Cooper began to notice the unhealthy lunches provided by schools during her time as the Director of Food Services for Boulder Valley School District. When Anna saw the foundation’s name listed on the CU PIIE internship list, she immediately applied because she knew she would be invested in their mission.

Currently a junior at the University of Colorado Boulder, Anna is majoring in elementary education with a minor in Spanish. Working at the Chef Ann Foundation as a School Food Reform intern allowed Anna to combine her interest in education and healthy food by providing opportunities to educate school food professionals and children about health.

“I genuinely was passionate about what they were doing,” Anna said. “It’s something I experience. It’s something I know. It’s something I do in my own life. So, I was just marrying all these important realms in my life in a very neat way.”

The peach orchard in spring on the western slope of Colorado in Palisade where Anna worked summers since the age of 15.

Food has always been a big part of Anna’s life as her mother has always emphasized the importance of nutrition. Working at a peach orchard and farmer’s market since the age of 15 has also allowed Anna to learn about agriculture and the importance of buying locally. Being a Colorado native, Anna was one of the first groups to see the effects of Boulder’s school food before Chef Ann stepped in to help.

“I actually can recall that switch,” Anna said. “So it was actually really important, really meaningful to me the fact that I got the internship in the first place.”

Anna’s supervisor, Emily Gallivan, director of programs, said Anna completed a variety of tasks for the Chef Ann Foundation during her internship. Her daily tasks included working on the organization’s impact and reach numbers, data analytics, summaries of the latest research on school food and graphic design work.

“Anna was a great asset to our team and brought a wonderful positive and can-do energy,” Emily said. “She was flexible when new projects came up or someone on the team needed more immediate help. She was very thoughtful about her work and always made sure to ask questions when she needed additional guidance or support. Her contributions allowed us to catch-up on many pieces that our team had more limited capacity for and to have more general support for our programs.”

Interning at the Chef Ann Foundation provided Anna with her first experience working in an office job. She learned how to work with different teams and communicate professionally over email, as well as learned how nonprofits work and what nonprofit outreach looks like.

After spending the summer interning for the Chef Ann Foundation, Anna believes she will seek a career as an elementary school teacher and will then pursue non-profit work or policy work surrounding education.

Read about some of our other PIIE scholarship recipients.

Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that other students may have the experience and non-profits the benefit, of a student internship.

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*Mackenzie Eldred is a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she majors in journalism with a minor in English. She currently serves as a book editor for a remote publishing house, Dreaming Big Publications. With prior experience working as editor-in-chief for a school newspaper, Mackenzie hopes to pursue a career in writing and editing.

 

 

Eden Villalovas – Diversifying the Newsroom

Saturday, December 4th, 2021

Realizing a disproportionate representation of diverse voices in student journalism, Eden Villalovas felt compelled to pursue it as her major.

By Savannah Mather*

As the journalism field grows, many young reporters are faced with the challenges of adapting to the ever-changing standards of the modern day newsroom. One thing that has not changed, however, is an increase in diversity and representation within America’s mainstream news networks. Twenty-one year old Eden Villalovas, a Senior at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder), is pursuing journalism to make a difference.

Casey Feldman Foundation Supports Journalism Students

Dianne Anderson and Joel Feldman, founders of the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation began awarding journalism students who hold unpaid internships with a scholarship stipend in an effort to support young journalists entering such a vital career field.  Eden received the Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship Stipend following her impressive experience as a managing editor for CU Boulder’s The Bold, a student-run news site, as well as for her Fall 2021 internship as an editorial writer at Denver’s Life Magazine.

Originally from San Diego, Eden came to CU Boulder in pursuit of new learning opportunities and experiences she otherwise would not have at home. When she first came to CU, she quickly realized that there was a lack of representation on campus. According to the 2020-2021 Regent Diversity Report for CU Boulder’s student demographics, 32% of undergraduate students are of color. Eden felt as though she could use journalism as a platform to speak up for students of color on campus, and add more representation in student news.

“I came to CU and it was the first time in my life that I felt like a minority. Coming from San Diego, I was constantly surrounded by diversity and different cultures,” Eden said.

Lack of Diversity Among Student Journalists

When Eden first came to CU Boulder, however, she said she wasn’t sure if she was going to stick with journalism. It wasn’t until she realized there was a disproportionate representation of diverse voices in student journalism, that Eden felt like she had to pursue it as her major.

“Coming to Colorado, and to CU in particular, I realized I’m a minority and people view me as a minority, and I thought that there was such a lack of minority journalists,” Eden recalled,

“I was in a position of privilege where I could speak for underrepresented communities.”

From there, Eden’s journalism experience blossomed into so much more than she could have imagined. Starting her sophomore year, Eden was one of the founding writers for The Bold, and continues to write articles focused on politics, social equity, and breaking news.

“It felt so good to be around such like-minded people and people who cared about the same issues that I did, especially student journalism in particular,” Eden said.

This past year, Eden was named a managing editor for the student publication, and said that this role strengthened her leadership skills and provided her with experience to grow as a young professional journalist in more ways than she could get simply from reporting classes.

This fall semester, Eden is also interning at Denver Life Magazine, a publication that features stories on the arts, travel, style, food, and lifestyle. Eden is an editorial intern, writing her own pieces as well as fact-checking and editing freelance stories for grammar and content.

Throughout her experience as a journalism student, writing for The Bold, and as an editorial intern, Eden realized how important it is to support young journalists, especially those who add more diversity in the field.

Journalism at a Turning Point

“I think journalism right now is at a really big turning point, where the average citizen distrusts the media so much. Journalism has [also]  failed underrepresented groups, and that’s why there is such a distrust in the media because there is also such a lack of diverse voices in journalism,” Eden said, “ I really want to bring back that trust and I think that starts with diversifying the newsroom.”

When Eden isn’t writing for CU’s The Bold or at her internship in Denver, she enjoys writing, reading, and stays active with a routine running schedule. Her interest in politics and social change also led to a desire to one be a reporter for the White House after she interned for a non-profit organization in Washington D.C. over the Summer.

“I think working in Washington D.C. has always been a goal of mine, and that didn’t really happen until this past year when I had an internship in D.C. It just made me realize how important journalism is in D.C. in particular,” Eden said.

Thanks to the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation scholarship stipend, Eden said that she found more of a purpose in pursuing journalism, and that it is extremely rewarding to feel like young journalists are being recognized and supported.

Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation to provide additional journalism students with funding for an unpaid internship

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“A World of Possibilities”

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

Anna Dooner

Anna Dooner received the Casey Feldman Foundation’s Springfield High School Scholarship this year for her ambitious career goals and her touching and impressive essay, “A World of Possibilities.” She graduated from Springfield High School in 2021 and is now a freshman at Temple University. Anna’s response to the question “Where do you envision yourself 20 years from now?” is published below. 

A World of Possibilities

From the beginning of education, even as a child, everyone is asked what they want to be when they grow up. While we are young, our ambitions are high and we believe we can conquer the world by becoming president, an Olympic athlete, or any other nearly impossible goal. As our age climbs, reality sets in. We come to face the fact that those goals are not necessarily attainable, unless you are one like former president Barack Obama or four time gold medalist Laura Trott. Looking back now, I can remember being asked this question in almost every year of school, and every time I had one similarity between my answers— to help others, or more specifically, the Earth and all that is part of it.

Like every other child, I jumped from this to that in terms of where I will be in 20 years, but I almost always came back to one specific goal—  to care for the environment. When I was six years old, I started telling people I would become a marine biologist and help save the Earth.

Ambitious, I know. Honestly, I doubt I even knew what a marine biologist was then but something in my gut told me that’s what I was meant to do. I saw how people disrespected Earth and didn’t care for the one place that is our main source of life, and it broke my heart as a young girl. That was where my yearn to help others began. When I was seven years old, I began collecting donations for the local animal shelter and discouraging the use of plastic water bottles at my school. For my eighth birthday, I used the money given to me to sponsor three cats in a shelter so they could find a home. At ten, I heard about the tsunami that hit Haiti and how it left the people struggling to cope, so I began a raffle basket and performed concerts for my neighbors to raise money and gave it to an organization that helped with relief. Since then, I’ve been contributing to the environment by cleaning waste off of the beach, discouraging plastic use, becoming a social media ambassador for an eco-friendly brand, and overall creating a more sustainable lifestyle. In 20 years, I see myself still doing this, but on a larger scale.

I’ve always wanted to travel and see the world, like many people, but I hope to incorporate this into my career. Perhaps I’ll be a spokesperson for a green company that educates people around the world on the importance of fighting global warming, or work in politics and  meet with ambassadors to unite and fight it together. There are those huge ambitions again, but what’s life without dreams? I’d be okay with working at a small company in one place or an activist for a non-profit if I meant I was making a difference. I’ve also never loved studying science, but if it means I will do what I love for the rest of my life, then it is worth it.

So, in all honesty, I’m not sure of where I’ll be in 20 years. I know I’ll have a career in an environmental-related area, probably living in small house by the beach with lots of cats and a dog (I’m a sucker for pets, especially strays), a big garden where I can grow my own fruits and vegetables, I know I want to foster kids or maybe have my own, and I hope to eventually own a bookstore cafe. If I can achieve all of those things, I’ll have attained the dream life, but I can’t say I know exactly where life will lead me. To say the least, I am a very indecisive person with a great deal of dreams in a world of endless possibilities.

I’m unsure exactly what my career will be or if I will be married with kids or where I will be living, but I know in 20 years, even 50, I’ll still be the little girl who picked up microplastics off the beach with a strainer and saved frogs in my neighbors chlorine-filled pool. I’ve always been that girl and in my future, I still will be.

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Read about our other Springfield High School scholarship recipients

Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation to help other students realize their dreams

Scholarship Recipient Is Inspired by Casey’s Ability to Never Give Up

Saturday, November 6th, 2021

“I remember thinking, Casey Feldman wouldn’t have quit,” said Lionel McCulloch.

By Samantha Matthews*

Lionel McCulloch, a 2019 Casey Feldman Foundation Greater Philadelphia Cappies Scholarship winner, has recently been awarded the Madeleine Wing Adler Emerging Leader Award. This honor is reserved for a first or second year student who has shown the most promise of leadership displayed through roles in student organizations, academia, or service at West Chester University of Pennsylvania (WCU). 

“Hearing about all Casey did before she was 21 really inspired me to put my best efforts out there in her memory when I started at college. When things got tough, I wasn’t going to quit.”

Lionel is currently a rising junior at WCU double majoring in Theatre and Media and Culture and minoring in Computer Science.

He also created a film about the dangers of texting while driving. When heard of Casey’s story before the 2019 Cappies, he felt connected to her. 

“I think about her a lot, and I am not kidding when I say that knowing all that she was capable of made me push myself pretty hard when everyone around me was not finding it possible to go on.” Lionel said. 

Casey had many passions in life, but two that she shared with Lionel were theatre and journalism. Lionel originally joined the Serpentine Yearbook working on layout for the sports section and quickly rose to the role of Sports Editor. In March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the yearbook needed additional leadership. 

“During the pandemic, kids around me were quitting like crazy. When the school closed down, it came down to just two of us actually doing anything on the book itself, and by the end, it was just me,” Lionel said. He remembered thinking, “Casey Feldman wouldn’t have quit — I need to get this book done in her name. She really has inspired me when things get tough.”

Lionel also served as Lead Editor on WCU’s “Unmute Yourself,” the school’s first live virtual production done via Zoom. Lionel recalls switching from in-person to online performances being a “huge learning curve” but felt that the reward for accomplishing something so personal and intimate during such unprecedented circumstances was worth it. 

This year, Lionel is excited to take on the role of sound designer for WCU’s performance of “Pride and Prejudice.”

Lionel is called to leadership by his inability to let himself down by always seeing his commitments through. He also credits his family for motivating and supporting him.

While Lionel completes his final two years at WCU, he will continue his “never give up” philosophy by working hard at what he loves and always keeping his family close.

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*Samantha Matthews is a junior at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where she majors in Communications and Media Studies. She currently serves as the Features Editor at the Fordham Observer, and one day hopes to go to law school.

 

Congratulations to First Generation Foundation Scholarship Recipient

Monday, November 1st, 2021

Kylie Davis on graduation day from CU

By Dianne Anderson*

The Casey Feldman Foundation is proud of all of it’s scholarship recipients, especially those who are first generation college students and in particular, Kylie Davis who just graduated this year from the University of Colorado Boulder. Kyle earned 2 degrees at graduation, a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and also a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. Kylie worked 35 hours per week at 3 different jobs to finance her education and make ends meet. Despite her schedule, she made time to give back through community service.

Kyle has moved to Chicago to work as an Assistant Lab Manager on the Center for Decision Research team at the University of Chicago Booth. “Both of my degrees have granted me the opportunity to start a career that I am passionate about. As a child, I wanted to understand the world on a deeper level, and now it will be my career to ask questions and seek out answers….This role will allow me to live out my research dreams,” says Kylie.

However, this won’t be the end of Kylie’s formal education. Her future plans include going back to school to earn a Ph.D.

Congratulations Kylie!

Related Links:

First Generation College Student Awarded Casey Feldman Foundation Scholarship

DONATE so that we may continue to reward additional first generation students like Kylie and make a difference in their lives  in Casey’s memory.

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Dianne and Casey, Christmas 2006

*Dianne Anderson is the mother of the late Casey Feldman and co-founder of the The Casey Feldman Foundation and its sponsored project, EndDD.org.

CFF Springfield High School Scholarship Recipient, Jess Carloni Keeps Her Connections Close

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

By Samantha Matthews*

Jess Carloni

Jess Carloni is a self-professed, “people person.” Her happiest moments come when she can spend time with others and talk them through any situation on their mind. In her freshman year at West Chester University, which starts this fall, Jess hopes to turn her love of conversation into a career by majoring in Psychology and eventually becoming a therapist.

As one of the 2021 recipients of the Casey Feldman Foundation Springfield High School (SHS) Scholarship,  Jess wants to be able to keep her relationships at the forefront of her priorities and impact those around her just like Casey has done. Jess revealed, “My true goal in life is to make an impact on the people around me. My relationships and friendships, just like Casey, mean so much to me. I always make it a personal goal of mine to really have a deep relationship with the people I care about, and not just an on the surface one.” 

Studying psychology was not always Jess’ plan. After being randomly assigned to an intro to psychology course in her junior year, Jess was disappointed — she was hoping for a study hall. However, she fell in love with the course material and the ability to help people in the future through conversation. “I feel like I’m a good listener and my friends know that they can come to me and talk to me about anything, so I feel like studying to become a therapist would allow me to just help people through their problems,” Jess said.

During all four of her years at SHS, Jess was involved with THON a student-run philanthropy that organizes a dance marathon fundraiser for children and families impacted by childhood cancer. Jess served on the Family Relations Committee where she served as a liaison between the families affected by cancer and the club itself. Often before the annual marathon, the families would share their own personal stories. 

 “These families go through such hard times and it’s such a vulnerable moment for them to be sharing their stories so I wanted to make them feel comfortable and safe. I loved talking to them the entire time, and I met so many great people,” she said.

Jess’s ability to make those around her comfortable is something that she attributes to always trying to have a positive attitude. SHS’s school counselor, Kelly Pedrotty noticed this about Jess and said, “Jess exudes positive energy and people love to be around her. She has a smile that lights up a room. I am so impressed by the way she conducts herself in and outside of school. She is a wonderful combination of grace and humbleness.”

Outside of THON, Jess played varsity tennis from her sophomore year until graduation. She’s been practicing the violin since the fourth grade and enjoyed singing in SHS’s choir. Jess also has a love for dance — specifically jazz and lyrical. While she may be leaving tennis, orchestra and choir in high school, she hopes to continue dancing in college. 

After school hours, Jess serves as the manager of her local Dairy Queen. While she found managing her many commitments challenging, Jess is grateful for the learning experience it gave her. “It was definitely difficult — managing a job, after school activities and AP courses — my job made me more responsible and helped my people skills,” she said.

People are the common thread in Jess’s life that give her motivation. During COVID, she, much like the rest of the world, found it hard to connect with others in a time of worldwide separation. However, she feels that the time she spent during the pandemic helped her realize her true priorities in life. “I really want to take the time to prioritize the people in my life. I started thinking a lot about what really matters in life and it’s not materialistic things or social media,” she said. “I hope to be a little more attentive to life, and my friends and my family because the whole thing can be taken away so quickly. Casey’s story helped me realize that.”

Jess has already started on her goal to prioritize the people in her life by spending more time with her family before she leaves for college in the fall. In twenty years, Jess hopes to be creating, “Positive change within my community. I think that any impact, even the smallest impact, will be important to me. I hope that my actions can have a positive influence on other people’s lives, and most importantly, on myself as well,” she said.

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Read about our previous Casey Feldman Foundation SHS scholarship recipients

View all Casey Feldman Foundation scholarships and gifts since 2010 

Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that we may continue to recognize outstanding SHS students with scholarships

 

*Samantha Matthews is a sophomore at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where she majors in Communications and Media Studies. She currently serves as the Features Editor at the Fordham Observer, and one day hopes to go to law school.

 

Casey Feldman Foundation Awards First CU Journalism Scholarship to Savannah Mather

Monday, July 5th, 2021

Savannah Mather

By Samantha Matthews*

Savannah Mather believes in the importance of creating an informed society. Savannah, who is a rising senior at The University of Colorado, Boulder, (CU Boulder) has received the first Casey Feldman Foundation  Scholarship Stipend for journalism students. The endowment at CU was originally established to provide a stipend for computer science students to provide IT work for a nonprofit , but Dianne Anderson, cofounder of the Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation stated  that it was time for a change.

“It was a wonderful goal to introduce computer science students to the nonprofit world and at the same time aid small nonprofits. However, We had waning interest from computer science students presumably because they had no problem finding well paid internships. It seemed quite natural to change the endowment to support journalism students given Casey’s passion for journalism and the critical need at this time to support those who have chosen this career path. Casey believed the press plays a critical role in our society and we do as well,” Dianne said. 

Savannah couldn’t agree more with Casey that the press is an integral facet of society. Ever since kindergarten, Savannah has known she wanted to be a writer and tell other people’s stories. However, it wasn’t until high school that she discovered what she truly wanted to write about. “My junior year of high school, I took an AP environmental science class and I absolutely fell in love with it,” Savannah said. “I loved everything about environmentalism, conservation, sustainability, and ecology.”

As soon as Savannah arrived at CU Boulder she decided to combine her passion for the environment with her love of writing and declared herself as a journalism major and geography minor. This was the start of her journey towards becoming an environmental journalist. Savannah feels as though journalism, specifically that relating to the environment, is an essential function of democracy.

Savannah reflected, “Journalism is more important now than ever. Unfortunately, we live in an age of misinformation that is spread so easily, and is threatening to journalism as a function of democracy.” She continued that she hopes to be a journalist reporting accurate information on matters like climate change and make it available to the larger public to create a sense of greater understanding.

“Environmentalism and climate change is such a complex topic,  and with the amount of science and research that we have, it’s so hard to disseminate that information and make it digestible to a general audience. But it’s really important because there are things happening right now in front of our eyes that are extremely threatening to our environment,” Savannah said.

During her time at CU Boulder, Savannah was able to join their student-run newspaper, The CU Independent. She joined the opinions section her freshman year, and took her time to define her niche in the paper as an environmental journalist. This past fall, Savannah wrote an article about the struggles between safety and sustainability amid the pandemic and the increase of single-use waste. 

To Dianne, Savannah stood out among the rest of the applicants. “We loved that Savannah jumped right into writing for the university newspaper as a freshman and quickly became an editor by her sophomore year, like Casey did at Fordham. During this critical time of climate change we were thrilled to have an applicant who also has a background in science and aspires to become an environmental journalist. That she also had written about social justice justices issues sealed the deal so to speak!”

While Savannah spends most of her time appreciating and fighting for nature through the words in her articles, she also loves to spend her free time outdoors. An avid snowboarder, watersports player, and hiker, she climbed her first fourteener mountain, one of Colorado’s tallest mountains, last year.  

Professionally, Savannah has just completed an internship for Kurani, an architecture firm devoted to solving the world’s biggest problems through architecture. According to their website, their designs like literacy lounges and Black arts centers help “improve conditions for education, the environment, immigrants, poverty, social justice, wellness and women around the world.” 

Savannah found her time at Kurani as a journalism intern to be extremely rewarding and surprisingly impactful. “While architecture may not fit into the realm of environmentalism that I want to pursue, this internship has taught me that public spaces have just as much of an impact in how we interact, respect, and utilize the environment both inside and outside,” she revealed. 

Looking into how we utilize the Earth’s resources and how that can in turn, aid public service, sustainability, and social justice initiatives, has helped Savannah create a more nuanced perspective on what it means to be a journalist. 

Savannah hopes to implement the important lessons she has learned from her internship after she graduates from CU Boulder this fall. She dreams of travelling to all the amazing places the world has to offer while advocating for the environment as a journalist. A few of her biggest aspirations are to one day have her own podcast and work on a National Geographic environmental documentary. 

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Read about our Computer Science Stipend Recipients

View all of our scholarships and gifts 

Donate to the Casey Feldman Foundation so that we may continue to recognize and award outstanding students with scholarships

*Samantha Matthews is a sophomore at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where she majors in Communications and Media Studies. She currently serves as the Features Editor at the Fordham Observer, and one day hopes to go to law school.

 

CFF Springfield HS Scholarship Recipient Emma Sulpizio’s Commitment to Others Drives Her Daily Life

Sunday, April 18th, 2021

By Samantha Matthews*

Emma Sulpizio

Emma Sulpizio is looking forward to joining the ranks of healthcare workers doing good for others.

Emma, the 2020 recipient of the Casey Feldman Foundation Springfield High School (SHS) Scholarship, is now studying to be a nurse at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania  a path she may not have chosen without an SHS program. 

The school’s Medical Careers program allows high school seniors who are interested in pursuing a future in medicine to learn an extensive medical curriculum from professionals and take part in clinical rotations. Emma calls it “the best experience of my life.”

Every day, Emma would wake up at 5 a.m. and commute to Taylor Hospital in Ridley Park, Pa., where she would shadow her mentor, observing everything from basic patient care to a hip replacement operation. She would stay at the medical facility until midday and then return to SHS to finish out the rest of her academic day.

In a letter of recommendation, her mentor, a nurse called Emma one of the top students in the program. “She is consistently prepared for class, her work is never late and she is rarely absent,” the letter read. “Emma participates in every class; in fact, her hand is usually up first whenever I pose a question to my students! Her answers reveal thoughtful insight and a level of maturity beyond her years.”

Emma’s time at Medical Careers allowed her to have face-to-face, hands-on interaction with patients — an opportunity that would greatly impact her future dreams. It ultimately shifted her goal of pursuing medical sonography to nursing, where she could be more active in patient’s lives. 

“I like being hands-on, I like talking to people and I feel like nursing is all about that,” Emma said. “As a nurse, you have the opportunity to get to know your patients and learn to love your patients and I realized that that’s what I really want to do.”  

Emma Sulpizio and her parents at her graduation from Springfield High School

In addition to her hospital duties, Emma made time to be a dedicated athlete at SHS. She was a varsity field hockey player her freshman and sophomore years, and captain of the track team during her junior and senior years, where she received the MVP award. “Working as a team with doctors and nurses, and knowing how to work together and communicate is just like being on a [sports] team because you have to use the same skills,” she said.

Rounding out her ultra-packed schedule was her participation as a committee member of THON, a student run philanthropy organized dedicated to raising awareness and fundraising for children and families affected by childhood cancer. Emma’s grandmother also got her involved in volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House from a young age, often pitching in to cook breakfast for families staying at the facility.

Emma’s sheer determination and commitment to others is what fills up her schedule most days and that’s just the way she likes it. When she graduates from Widener in 2024, she says she can’t wait to launch her career as a nurse and possibly further her education, eventually becoming a nurse practitioner.

“I don’t know exactly what part of nursing I want to go into but I do know that I just want to be able to make a difference,” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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*Samantha Matthews is a sophomore at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where she majors in Communications and Media Studies. She currently serves as the Features Editor at the Fordham Observer, and one day hopes to go to law school.

 

 

One Meal at a Time, 2020 PIIE Scholarship Recipient Ally Faller, is Changing Boulder

Monday, April 5th, 2021

By Samantha Matthews*

Ally Faller is charting her own path — turning a summer internship at Meals on Wheels into a career. The recent University of Colorado Boulder (CU) graduate plans to use her dual degrees in Creative Technologies and Design and English to fight food insecurity.

Ally, the recipient of CU’s 2020 Public Interest Internship Experience (PIIE) Casey Feldman Memorial Scholarship, is now working full time as a marketing and communications associate at the non-profit organization. In her position, which she began after her December 2020 graduation, Ally works on graphic design projects and heads the client acquisition campaign designed to spread awareness about the services Meals on Wheels offers to help a greater number of people in the Boulder, Colorado, area.

“Meals on Wheels is not a service you can only use when you’re in the worst situation of your entire life,” she said. “We can serve anyone who needs a little extra help.”

Ally Faller

 

When deciding between Meals and Wheels and one other organization for her PIIE application, the food non-profit struck an intense personal chord.

Ally, who is in recovery from an eating disorder she faced freshman year of college, says the experience left her with strong feelings about fighting food insecurity — a problem that affects nearly 54 million people in the United States. 

“When I first saw Meals on Wheels, I thought about how there are people in my community who do not have enough to eat and who feel invisible and unloved and uncared for,” she said. “Because of my own personal history, I felt like I could definitely care very, very deeply about the work that I would do with that organization.”

Meals on Wheels Boulder provides daily well-being checks and delivers nutritionally balanced, high-quality meals to any person, regardless of age or income, in the Boulder City area who might not otherwise have access to healthy food or a friendly face. 

As an intern at Meals on Wheels, Ally worked in the marketing and communications department where she was able to use her ingenuity as a graphic designer. 

“Ally is creative, dependable, and highly motivated,” Ally’s supervisor, Kate Laubacher, said. “She takes initiative and jumps into new projects with enthusiasm.” Those initiatives included designing a newsletter for the organization’s mailing list and refreshing its photo bank with pictures of meals. 

Ally calls her internship a transformative experience. “When I first started I was thinking about people in need as an abstract,” she said. Seeing how much empathy the volunteers feel for clients, and how much care goes into every meal made Ally realize how her job changes the lives of the people who use the non-profit’s services.

Graduating amid a pandemic, Ally said she is incredibly grateful for the Casey Feldman Memorial PIIE scholarship, which provides students a stipend to work with a non-profit or government agency for the summer.

“I, like many other students, can’t work a summer job for free, and it’s really hard to work for a nonprofit and get paid, especially as an intern,” she said. “Having this scholarship permitted me to take that internship and then in turn, that internship got me a full time job in a very difficult job market right after graduating.”

Despite her own experience working with a non-profit, Ally says working with a philanthropic organization isn’t the only way to make a difference.

“There are a lot of ways to improve the world, and a lot of that is making people feel seen,” she said. “Starting to help in any capacity starts with the simplest things like making eye contact with people on public transportation or smiling at people you pass on the street, and then moving from on from there.

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*Samantha Matthews is a sophomore at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where she majors in Communications and Media Studies. She currently serves as the Features Editor at the Fordham Observer, and one day hopes to go to law school.

 

 

Dedicated Thespian and CFF Cappies Scholarship Recipient, Cassidy Lennick, Believes in the Power of Performance

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

By Samantha Matthews*

Cassidy Lennick

From a young age, Cassidy Lennick has held performing and writing about theatre close to her heart. “Something I love about theatre is that you can make someone happy or smile just by doing what you love,” Cassidy said of her experience onstage.  As the recipient of the 2020 Casey Feldman Foundation Greater Philadelphia Cappies* Scholarship, Cassidy is determined to continue to spread happiness through the power of theatre despite the cancellation of in-person performances —for the show must always go on. 

The Casey Feldman Foundation has been awarding one graduating Cappies participant a scholarship to help further their education since 2011, two years after Casey was killed by a distracted driver. The scholarship was created in honor of Casey’s love for theatre, journalism and the Cappies. The Cappies are an international awards program, much like that of the Tony’s, that recognizes high school theatre and journalism students who possess strong writing, critical thinking, and leadership skills. Like Casey, Cassidy joined the Cappies as an actor and critic where she was able to review different high school performances around Pennsylvania, as well as compete in performances of her own. Her freshman year, Cassidy was granted the award (a Cappie) as Best Ensemble member in Sweeney Todd. 

Cassidy Lennick at the 2019 Cappies Gala wearing her Cappie

According to Dianne Anderson, co-founder of the Casey Feldman Foundation, “Cassidy is clearly passionate about the performing arts and has a stellar academic record. What made her really stand out for us, though, was that despite a clearly hectic schedule, Cassidy took the time to be of service to others. Helping to coordinate a fundraiser for the California Hurricane Foundation, volunteering to teach dance to 3- and 4- year-old children and participating in the performance of a thank you video for frontline workers during this pandemic validated her nominating teacher’s comment that he had never met a more caring, respectful, hard-working, and kind student.”

Now a freshman working towards a BFA in Musical Theatre at Long Island University, Cassidy likes the connection theatre gives her to others during this time of worldwide separation.

During her senior year at Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School Center for the Performing and Fine Arts, Cassidy served as Vice President of the International Thespian Honor Society. Her final semester in high school was online due to the pandemic, nevertheless giving her the opportunity to be a part of a virtual performance of “Lean on Me” that was sent out to quarantined residents of old age homes and front-line workers in hospitals. She also initiated  similar virtual projects for the same audience in other organizations.

An avid dancer, Cassidy spends almost 12 hours a week at the dance studio

This passion Cassidy has for making people smile grew during her time on stage in high school. Cassidy became devoted to theatre and dance, acting in a total of nine performances and spending twelve hours a week at the Longwood Performing Arts dance studio. Her favorite role was Ariel in The Tempest. She said, “I really loved getting to delve into Shakespeare while singing and dancing.” 

Whilst spending her time on stage and maintaining a 4.2 GPA, Cassidy held many different leadership positions throughout school organizations, such as Vice President of National Honors Society, Treasurer of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, and Co-President of the National Dance Arts Honor Society. She joked, “a lot of my lunches were spent in meetings.” However, her ability to accomplish so much in a twenty-four hour day was what kept her going. “I like to keep myself busy and am so lucky I can spend time doing what I love,” she said.  Cassidy’s grit, passion, and incredible work ethic are the tools she hopes will one day allow her to live out her dream of being center-stage on Broadway.

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*Samantha Matthews is a sophomore at Fordham University at Lincoln Center, where she majors in Communications and Media Studies. She currently serves as the Features Editor at the Fordham Observer, and one day hopes to go to law school.