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Rhode Island Foundation announces six recipients of college scholarships in the name of Roger Williams
By Chris Barnett / June 17, 2019 /   Loading Disqus...

PROVIDENCE, RI -- The Rhode Island Foundation today announced that high school seniors from Cranston, Newport, Providence, and Woonsocket will head off to freshman year with college scholarships honoring Roger Williams, the state’s founding father.

The four-year, renewable scholarships are through the Carter Roger Williams Initiative, which was launched two years ago by philanthropists Letitia and late John Carter.

“Roger Williams had the chance to further his education because of the people around him. Because of the vision of the Carter family, we have the opportunity to encourage students and their parents to think big about their future,” said Jessica David, the Foundation’s executive vice president of strategy and community investments, who leads the project.

More than 160 students from throughout Rhode Island applied. The six recipients were selected based on academic achievement, financial need, appreciation for Roger Williams’ values and record of community service.

This year’s scholarship recipients are Jacqueline Contreras of Providence, Marissa Henley of Woonsocket, Ezra Monteiro of Newport, Angella Nakasagga of Cranston, Abel Ndungutsye of Providence, and Alfusatny Saine of Woonsocket. They are eligible for $320,000 in aid over four years.

Contreras graduated from Central High School in Providence. She participated in Youth In Action, was a Senior Mentor and served as FUSE President and as a member of FUSE’s Advisory Board.

In her application, Contreras wrote about what she learned from Roger Williams’ values.

“Roger Williams exemplifies modesty and compassion. He believed developing your potential goes beyond helping yourself; it’s about elevating others around you and allowing the world to become aware of how powerful education is,” she said.

Contreras will attend Providence College, where she plans to major in education and ultimately become a teacher in Providence public schools.

“I believe that all children deserve an education, in fact, it should be their right to one. I learned early on to work with my teachers and utilize my resources to teach myself. With these two skills, I learned that I determine my own future. Through this experience, I realized the impact that a good teacher has on a child’s future,” she said.

Henley graduated from Woonsocket High School. She was a member of the National Honor Society, a Peer Mentor and participated in track and field, volleyball, theater, and student government as a member of the student council and a class officer.

In her application, Henley wrote about what she learned from Roger Williams’ values.

“Roger Williams’ incessant campaign for religious freedom, separation of church and state, and democracy are still ubiquitous today. Roger Williams’ representation of freedom and equitability in the early stages of America are the ideals that I have built my passion of social reform on,” she said.

Henley will attend Kent State University. She plans to run for office or become a lawyer after graduating from college.

Monteiro graduated from Rogers High School in Newport. He was a member of the National Honor Society, the French Honor Society, and the Tri-M Music Honor Society. He was a member of the track and field, football, basketball, and robotics teams.

In his application, Monteiro wrote about what he learned from Roger Williams’ values.

“In today’s day and age, many people have forgotten about Roger Williams’ principles and how they should apply to our everyday lives. When Roger Williams founded Rhode Island, he gave the colonists a chance to live a better life, regardless of their religion,” he wrote.

Monteiro will attend Howard University. He plans to major in economics and pursue a career in the financial industry.

“Although it may be hard, all of us need to stand up for what we believe in and stand against what we don’t. In order to build strong communities, we must work and pool unique ideas together,” he said. “Differences between people should not be seen as challenges, but rather as advantages. Unique minds and ideas pave the way for new discoveries and the advancement of the human race.”

Nakasagga graduated from Cranston East High School, where she was a member of the Rhode Island Honor Society, student council, CHSE Bolts Broadcasting, and the cheerleading squad. In addition, she did a PrepareRI internship and participated in the Brown University Pathways to Medicine Program.

In her application, the Cranston resident wrote about what she learned from Roger Williams’ values.

“The steps he took towards creating a space for people to worship their God freely contributed to the freedom that permeates almost every area of today’s society, including religion and politics. As a result, Rhode Island has flourished through tolerance, acceptance, and pride in individuality,” she said.

Nakasagga will attend the University of Miami, where she will major in health and neuroscience.

“My innate desire to participate in the economic and social advancement of underserved nations around the word through health care has served a self-motivation to pursue a degree involving public health,” she said.

“I hope to gain a robust framework through which I can understand the root cause of the health disparities facing women of color and address pressing health burdens in underprivileged communities,” she added.

Ndungutsye graduated from Mount Pleasant High School in Providence, where he was in the National Honor Society and on the volleyball and math teams. He also participates in Upward Bound and the Refugee Dream Center.

In his application, Ndungutsye wrote about what he learned from Roger Williams’ values.

“He gives me hope that everyone can achieve their dreams no matter where they come from. This is my motivation to never give up on my beliefs and dreams,” he said.

Ndungutsye will attend Roger Williams University, where he will major in engineering.

“I want to be an engineer in the future because it has been my dream since I was a young kid and I want to follow my dream until it becomes a reality,” he said.

Saine graduated from Woonsocket High School, where played football and basketball and participated in theater.

“I grew up all around ‘hood’ kids and in the ‘hood.’ However, I don’t want to be just another statistic, so I changed my ways and my friends. School became everything to me,” the Woonsocket resident said.

“I joined theater class, a program I never thought I’d be a part of. Everyone was surprised. I was even made fun of, but it didn’t break me. Although the class made me nervous, I have people who helped me along the way,” he added.

In his scholarship application, Saine wrote about what he learned from Roger Williams’ values.

“Roger Williams possessed the ability to be open minded, he showed integrity and had courage. These are values that I try to emulate in my daily life to become a better me. He exemplified many core values that I associate with myself, and had many more that I wish to someday obtain. He served as a role model for me, a young man from Rhode Island, and showed that with enough faith anything is possible,” he said.

Saine will attend the University of Rhode Island. He has not decided on a major, but plans to focus on nursing, biology, accounting or business.

“I like this new path I took, and I don’t want to be another person that makes people say, ‘Man, he could’ve been something.’ I want to be great, and I want to do right for everyone I care for,” he said.

In addition to the scholarships, Carter Roger Williams Initiative hosts a website – findingrogerwilliams.com – that offers educational resources for students and educators and awards grants of up to $400 to underwrite school field trips to the Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence.

“By providing access to resources and opportunities inspired by our state’s founder and his teachings, we are promoting a sense of place and awareness for all Rhode Islanders,” said the Foundation’s David.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $114 million and awarded $52 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2018. Through leadership, fundraising, and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit rifoundation.org.

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