The Military Friends Foundation, Rep. James E. Vallee and Sen. Thomas M. McGee, chairperson, Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, awarded nine students from Massachusetts with scholarships for their community achievements and academic success, August 10, at the state house in Boston.
Those students were: Nicole Doniger of Sharon, Mass., going to Bridgewater State University, Kaitlyn Clark of Stow, Mass., going to Wesleyan University, Giulia Murphy of Quincy, Mass., going to Hoffstra, Blancaliz Diaz of Brockton, Mass., going to Culinary Institute of America, Hillary Savoy of Winchester, Mass., going Northeastern University, Sally Cringan of Townsend, Mass., going to Kent State University, Christiana Araniz of Medway, Mass., going to Southern New Hampshire University, Khris Cintron-Perez of Worcester, Mass., going to Worcester State University and Lauren O’Connor of Charlton, Mass., going to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Also in attendance were: Mr. Steven Grossman, State Treasurer and Receiver General of Massachusetts, Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter, The Adjutant General, Massachusetts National Guard, Sgt. Maj. Jim Kelly (Ret.), Military Friends Foundation President, and about one dozen other local legislators.
Grossman made an opening statement about his work with the program.
“Each application is reviewed by the Military Friends Board of Directors and students are selected based on their academic achievements, community involvement and their essay question response,” said Grossman.
Additionally, the program, known as the Patriot Scholars, recognizes the students, whose parent, step-parent or guardian deployed since September 11, 2001, in the National Guard or Reserves.
“The MFF Patriot Scholarship Scholar gives us the opportunity to both recognize the accomplishments of military children and learn from their experiences,” said Sarah Keller-Likins, Executive Director of the Military Friends Foundation. “Each year applicants submit an answer to an essay question. This year the students were asked to explain how their local community could best recognize and support a military family during a deployment.”
Supporting the scholarships as well as other programs run by the Military Friends Foundation is important.
“The Military Friends scholarship program and our other programs support Guard, Reserve and Families of the fallen and receive support from thousands of people across the commonwealth who make an annual voluntary donation through Question 32E - Mass. Military Family Relief Fund - on the Massachusetts State Tax Form,” said Keller-Likins. “All Military Friends Foundation programs are funded through the generosity of private donors. This year, the Military Friends Foundation has provided more than $100,000 to Massachusetts military families.”
In addition, the scholarship gives these students the peace of mind that they are not forgotten.
“To me, being named a Military Friends scholar means that there are people who care about military families, and recognize how difficult it is for those families, both emotionally and financially, while a military parent is deployed overseas and even after he or she returns home,” said Nicole Doniger, daughter of Sgt. Joel Doniger, 1058th Transportation Company, Massachusetts Army National Guard; She will be attending Bridgewater State University. “I appreciate everything the Military Friends Foundation does to support our family and others.”
The program also helps the students applying for the scholarship to learn more about being in a military family.
“To me being named a Military Friends Patriot Scholar means that I am able to spread awareness about being a part of a military family,” said Sally Cringan, whose step-father is currently deployed with 1st Battalion, 182nd Infantry Regiment in Afghanistan; She will be attending Oregon State University. “The transition from having no one in my family in the military to my step dad being a Soldier overseas has shed so much light to me on what the Soldiers and families go through every day. I have nothing but respect and admiration for military members and their families.”
“Being named a Military Friends Scholar means I’m being recognized for my academic success,” said Blancaliz Diaz, the daughter of Marco Diaz, 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment, Massachusetts Army National Guard; She will be attending the Culinary Institute of America. “It also means being recognized as a military family member who’s proud to have a father serving our great nation.”
“There is a quote I will always remember as a value my parents instilled in me,” said Diaz. “That quote is ‘School and Family is Important.’ My mother would ask me, ‘School and Family is’ and I would respond ‘Important.’”