May 15, 2018

Stewart’s Shops Scholarships Support 45 Students

All Scholarship Recipients Graduated from One of 16 SUNY Community Colleges, Located in Communities Served by Stewart’s Shops

Stewart's Shops

Reporters and editors please note: A list of scholarship recipients, sorted alphabetically by place of residence, is followed by recipients’ quotes, which also are listed alphabetically by place of residence. Digital images are available on request.

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – May 14, 2018) Forty-thousand dollars in scholarship support was distributed to 45 SUNY Empire State College students, thanks to the Empire State College - Stewart's Shops Community College Scholarship.

Students are awarded a $1,000 scholarship for one academic year, with half the total amount awarded each semester.

“Stewart’s is happy to support a scholarship program that not only enables a student to achieve success, but because the students are often adults with families, the gift impacts an entire family,” said Stewart’s Foundation President Susan Dake. “It is a terrific return on our philanthropy.”

“The Stewart’s Shops scholarship makes a tangible difference for our students and we are extremely grateful for their generous, long-standing support,” said Walter Williams, vice president for advancement. “An award from Stewart’s may mean that a student can continue his or her studies for another year, purchase necessary books or materials for a class, prevent him or her from taking out a costly loan, or allow the student to take that last class necessary to complete a degree. A single scholarship can make a real impact, and Stewart’s Shops makes that difference for them.”

Quotes from recipients, organized in alphabetical order by where they live, follows a list of recipients who wanted to share their names, where they live and the community college from which they graduated, organized in alphabetical order by where they live.

They are:

  • Abigail Allen, Adams Center, N.Y., Jefferson Community College
  • Tracy Buelow, Amsterdam, N.Y., Fulton-Montgomery Community College
  • Lynn Waicul, Amsterdam, N.Y., Fulton-Montgomery Community College
  • Roberta Kirkland, Auburn, N.Y., Cayuga Community College
  • Rabecca, Venturelli, Brockport, N.Y., Jefferson Community College
  • Maryann, Lashombe, Clifton Park, N.Y., Dutchess Community College
  • Meghan Kain, Clinton, N.Y., Herkimer Community College
  • Victoria Fudak, East Syracuse, N.Y., Onondaga Community College
  • Terra Stone, Frankfort, N.Y., Herkimer Community College
  • Delilah Purcell, Fultonville, N.Y., Fulton-Montgomery Community College
  • Terry Esposito, Greece, N.Y., Hudson Valley Community College
  • Melissa Sperry, Herkimer, N.Y., Herkimer Community College
  • Brandon Kane, Johnstown, N.Y., Fulton-Montgomery Community College
  • Lisa Ardner, Liverpool, N.Y., Onondaga Community College
  • Barry Hart, Malone, N.Y., North Country Community College
  • Katie Becker, Mayfield, N.Y., Fulton-Montgomery Community College
  • Caitlin Lee, Mineville, N.Y., North Country Community College
  • Mason Rainey, Mountain Dale, N.Y., Orange County Community College
  • Francesca Ebanks, Port Ewen, N.Y., Dutchess Community College
  • Reburta Moffitt, Queensbury, N.Y., SUNY Adirondack
  • Jennifer Wagner, Queensbury, N.Y., Herkimer Community College
  • Danielle Russell, Rome, N.Y., Mohawk Valley Community College
  • Krystie Sorci, Saranac Lake, N.Y., North Country Community College
  • Allison Quinn, Saugerties, N.Y., Ulster Community College
  • Michele Bergeron, Schenectady, N.Y., Schenectady County Community College
  • Andrew Kopacki, Schenectady, N.Y., Schenectady County Community College
  • Rebecca Gijanto, Schuylerville, N.Y., SUNY Adirondack
  • Alexandrea Brazill, Syracuse, N.Y., Onondaga Community College
  • Jennifer Richards, Syracuse, N.Y., Onondaga Community College
  • Kinetria Howard, Utica, N.Y., Mohawk Valley Community College
  • Philip Zwingelberg, Valatie, N.Y., Hudson Valley Community College
  • Lisa Taylor, Walden, N.Y., Dutchess Community College
  • Robert Epp, Waterford, N.Y., Mohawk Valley Community College
  • Jamie Raucci, Watervliet, N.Y., Hudson Valley Community College
  • Shannon Kralovic, Wells, N.Y., Fulton-Montgomery Community College
  • Sharon Berg, Wevertown, N.Y., SUNY Adirondack

Quotes from Empire State College - Stewart's Shops Community College Scholarship Recipients

“Thank you again for supporting my future education and career goals,” said Abigail Allen, a graduate of Jefferson Community College and resident of Adams Center, N.Y. “I am very grateful for your generosity toward my education, but also for the generosity you show to all students you support.”

“I am truly honored that I have been chosen to receive this scholarship award,” said Tracy Buelow, a graduate of Fulton-Montgomery Community College and a resident of Amsterdam, N.Y. “This scholarship will not just help me out financially by reducing the amount of student loans I will need to pay for college, it will also relieve a portion of stress by knowing that upon graduation, the amount of loan repayment will be more manageable. I am committed to my education and one step closer to becoming a certified public accountant, thanks to a vote of confidence and generosity of the Stewart’s Scholarship. I will not disappoint the (selection) committee and will work hard to reach my goal.”

“I want to thank you for choosing me for a Stewart’s Shops scholarship,” said Lynn Waicul, a graduate of Fulton-Montgomery Community College and resident of Amsterdam, N.Y. “I am a single mother of a teenage boy and I struggled most of my life. With your help, I am able to continue my studies and earn the degree, which will free me from many struggles.”

“To be honored with a Stewart’s Shops scholarship award allows me to stay on track with my timeline to complete my Master of Arts in Teaching,” said Roberta Kirkland, a graduate of Cayuga Community College and resident of Auburn, N.Y. “I promise my continued devotion to my academic pursuits and a lifetime of sharing my passion about the natural world with new generations.”

“My deepest thanks go to you for the Empire State College - Stewart's Shops Community College Scholarship,” said Rabecca Venturelli, a graduate of Jefferson Community College and resident of Brockport, N.Y. “As I near the end of my undergraduate degree, I am filled with excitement and accomplishment. As a nontraditional student, mother, military spouse and full-time employee at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology), your scholarship provides me with the extra motivation that I need to complete my degree with outstanding grades.”

“The Stewart’s Shops scholarship comes at a perfect time for me and will help lighten my financial burden,” said Maryann Lashombe, a graduate of Dutchess Community College and resident of Clifton Park, N.Y. “I appreciate the generosity and support of Stewart's Shops as I work towards obtaining my master's degree in Nursing Administration. This scholarship will not only help me achieve my goals, it will enable me to make better decisions in helping and protecting the people within the state Department of Health’s Medicaid programs.”

“First of all, thank you so much for awarding me this scholarship,” said Meghan Kain, a graduate of Herkimer County Community College and resident of Clinton, N.Y. “I have been working extremely hard over the past three semesters at SUNY Empire. While I received my A.A.S. degree from Herkimer County Community College in 2003, when I was much younger, working to finish my bachelor's degree as an adult has been a much different experience. As a full-time working mother, making my education a top priority was an important decision, which I made for both myself and my children. Finishing my degree will afford me the opportunity to advance my career and allow me to give my children more opportunities as well. Financial aid has assisted me in paying for my education, both now and in the past. However, I have had to take out a number of student loans. Any and all financial assistance that I don't have to pay back is an incredibly wonderful thing.”

“I am glad to have the opportunity to thank you personally for your generosity,” said Terra Stone, a graduate of Herkimer County Community College and resident of Frankfort, N.Y., who works in the Whitesboro Central School District. “Without donors like you, many students like myself would be unable to attend college. I have a passion for helping our employees and my future plans include pursuing a career in business/human resource management.”

“Thank you for the opportunity to further my education,” said Delilah Purcell, a graduate of Fulton Montgomery Community College and resident of Johnstown, N.Y., and a Hamilton Fulton-Montgomery BOCES employee. “Working with our youth through their educational journey has become a passion. As a mother of four, I'm blessed to have this opportunity to show my children it's never too late to reach for your dreams.”

“I just want to thank you for the opportunity you have given me,” said Melissa Sperry, a graduate of Herkimer County Community College and resident of Herkimer, N.Y. “It’s so important to me to receive my bachelor's degree and master’s through Empire State College. I want to prove to my daughters, and my husband, that I can do what I set my mind to and receive my college degree in teaching.”

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said Brandon Kane, a graduate of Fulton-Montgomery Community College and resident of Johnstown, N.Y. “I hope to graduate from SUNY Empire with my bachelor’s and fulfill my dream of becoming a private investigator.”

“Thank you for awarding me a Stewart's Shops scholarship,” said Lisa Ardner, a graduate of Onondaga Community College and resident of Liverpool, N.Y. “I am thankful to have three Stewart's locations near my home (Liverpool, North Syracuse and Baldwinsville). I am a patron and support Stewart's because of its strong family values, positive community involvement and integrity in business. I am committed to have minimal education debt upon completion of my master's program and am grateful to Stewart's for assisting me in reaching my goals.”

“Learning that I was chosen as a recipient was a wonderful blessing,” said Barry Hart, a graduate of North Country Community College and resident of Malone, N.Y. “My wife and I thank you for your willingness to give and to believe in helping others achieve their academic and life goals. As a family of five, soon to be six, with a single income, the decision to go back to school was a difficult one. I had completed my A.S. in Business Administration from North Country Community College in 2013. I wanted to complete my four-year degree at that time but, with our second child on the way, it seemed to be more than we could handle. I had decided to go back to school because I wanted to be in a better position to provide for my family.”

“To the great people at Stewart's Shops, I am honored and grateful to be receiving the Stewart's Shops Community College Scholarship,” said Katie Becker, a graduate of Fulton-Montgomery Community College and resident of Mayfield, N.Y. “My personal and educational journeys have had some speed bumps and potholes, but the values I learned from my family, hard work and never giving up on your dreams have pushed me through those times. My goal is to become a certified public accountant. It is great that people and organizations, like you and yours, help people like me to continue chasing dreams.”

“I would like to sincerely thank you for choosing me as a recipient of this year’s scholarship award," said Caitlin Lee, a graduate of North Country Community College and resident of Mineville, N.Y. “I am just two semesters away from graduating with my bachelor’s in Nursing. Although I always knew education was important, it wasn't until I had my daughter, at 34 years old, that I returned to college and dedicated myself to better provide for her. The flexibility of online learning is really beneficial to me, as I work full time and study. This award enables me to lessen my student loan debt and allows me to spend more time on my studies, rather than working extra shifts to make ends meet. I hope to someday go into administration or education at a nonprofit organization that supports hospice and palliative care patients.”

“Please allow me to offer my sincerest gratitude for your generous scholarship,” said Mason Rainey, a graduate of SUNY Orange and resident of Mountain Dale, N.Y. “As the father of a young daughter, every cent saved allows me to prepare for her future. So you have not only provided tuition assistance to me, you have also given it to my daughter, and for that I am truly grateful. Helping people is a passion of mine. I currently serve as a residential coordinator, overseeing five homes, which provide support for adults with various intellectual or other developmental disabilities. I have worked in this field for 17 years, 11 of which have been with my current employer. My ultimate goal is to provide individual and family counseling to those suffering from mental health issues or who experience crisis.”

“I would like to start off by thanking Stewarts's Shops for selecting me to receive this scholarship,” said Francesca Ebanks, a graduate of Dutchess Community College and resident of Port Ewen, N.Y. “As a criminal justice major at SUNY Empire, I have finally found the perfect school for me. Not only are my courses challenging, they fit into my busy schedule. SUNY Empire has made it possible for me to work and finish my degree. My continuing dedication, a Stewart's Shops scholarship and attending SUNY Empire get me closer to my goal of becoming a lawyer. Stewart's has become a part of my life and the life of those around me. Anytime I visit a Stewart's shop I am greeted with a smile and best wishes on my way out. Your shops are family and employee-owned and it shows in the excellent customer service you provide.”

“I am so very honored to be a recipient of this award because I rely heavily on student loans, grants and financial aid," said Reburta Moffitt, a graduate of SUNY Adirondack and resident of Queensbury, N.Y. “For a decade I worked a dead-end job to put a roof over my child's head and meals on the table when, suddenly, I found myself laid off. I searched and found no equivalent job without a degree. That life setback was a perfect window of opportunity. I saw it as my chance to get my college degree, finally, and I made a dash toward that window. Two and a half years later, my associate degree was complete. With your contribution to my education, my financial burdens will be reduced and this monetary amount will allow me to fulfill a now-reachable dream of receiving my bachelor’s degree.”

“Thank you for this opportunity to further my education and help me to achieve another goal for myself and my family,” said Jennifer Wagner, a graduate of Herkimer County Community College and resident of Queensbury, N.Y. “I plan to continue my education to ultimately achieve a position as a human resource manager, one that will give back to employees and thank them for all their hard work with the company.”

“Thank you for the scholarship opportunity, it is greatly appreciated,” said Danielle Russell, a graduate of Mohawk Valley Community College and resident of Rome, N.Y. “Due to changes in certifications in my field, getting my bachelor’s degree has become more of a necessity. I completed my associate degree in 2008, primarily by taking classes on campus. Attending SUNY Empire State College has allowed me the opportunity to take the necessary classes online, while enabling me to work and be present for my children. I will be able to graduate in December 2017 with a bachelor's degree in Community and Human Services with a concentration in substance abuse and the criminal justice system. In the near future, I hope to work primarily with the criminal justice population by helping to find better ways to rehabilitate them and reduce their rates of recidivism.”

“Thank you so much for this opportunity,” said Krystie Sorci, a graduate of North Country Community College and resident of Saranac Lake, N.Y. “This scholarship will help me on the road to earning my degree. As a mother of three young children, funds for personal growth expenses are hard to come by. This scholarship helps.”

“The Empire State College - Stewart’s Shops Community College Scholarship will be incredibly helpful in my pursuit of getting my B.A. in Community and Human Services,” said Allison Quinn, a graduate of SUNY Ulster and resident of Saugerties, N.Y. “Since I currently receive a small amount of disability money and spend a lot of time volunteering, I do not have much extra money for college. With this scholarship, I will be able to continue volunteering and working hard for my degree, with greater independence and confidence in my future. This generous donation is going directly toward the education that will allow me to give back to my community and help people overcome their obstacles.”

“Thank you for choosing me as a recipient of the Stewart's Shops community college scholarship,” said Michele Bergeron, a graduate of Schenectady County Community College and resident of Schenectady, N.Y. “I retired at the age of 46 from law enforcement and the military. I then began working in the nonprofit world. Currently, I am a residential supervisor for runaway, homeless, sexually abused and sexually trafficked youth. This scholarship will help pay for my final two classes that I need to take to graduate. What a blessing this (scholarship) was, as I had no idea how I was going to pay for them.”

“Thank you to Stewart’s Shops for this scholarship opportunity and to SUNY Empire for being a flexible higher-education program,” said Andrew Kopacki, a graduate of Schenectady County Community College and resident of Schenectady, N.Y. “Having a son weighs heavily on my financial decisions every day and currently every dollar is calculated and appropriated. Thanks to Stewart’s Shops, I will be able to worry less about the financial burden of obtaining a higher education. After a few years off, I decided to resume my education and found SUNY Empire to be the perfect fit for my schedule and lifestyle. Based on my previous interests and hobbies, I decided to pursue a degree in computer science. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in computer science, I feel confident enough to obtain certification in network and computer security. By combining certifications and a degree program, I will be ready for any occupations that would be available.”

"Thank you so much for helping me with on my journey to become a stronger nurse,” said Rebecca Gijanto, a graduate of SUNY Adirondack and resident of Schuylerville, N.Y. “I love taking care of people and there is nothing better than how that makes you feel. As a mom of four, funds have been extremely tight trying to get through college. My health took a turn for the worse a couple of years ago, but I am slowly getting better and this scholarship has helped ease my stress level. It is so nice to be able to focus on my work and not worry as much.”

“A huge thanks goes out to Stewart's Shops for this generous scholarship,” said Alexandra Brazill, a graduate of Onondaga Community College and resident of Syracuse, N.Y. “I am at the end of my long stretch and will soon graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Community and Human Services, primarily focusing on substance abuse. I have also been working toward my (New York state) certified alcohol and substance abuse counselor (CASAC) clinical hour requirements outside of the classroom, so, at the end, I will have my B.S and my certification. I personally have not experienced this (substance and alcohol abuse) tragedy first hand, but have been surrounded by it my entire life. I want nothing more than to begin preventive work and help others with skills and tools to begin their journey into sobriety. I aspire to earn my master's and always dedicate my work towards people suffering from addiction.”

“I wanted to take this opportunity to share my sincerest gratitude for selecting me to receive the Empire State College - Stewart's Shops Community College scholarship," said Jennifer Richards, a graduate of Onondaga Community College and resident of Syracuse, N.Y. “I am pursuing my bachelor’s degree in Business, Management and Economics, while also working two jobs. My schedule is extremely busy but, luckily for me, I tend to work best when I have lots going on. I hope to be able to move forward with my career goals of moving 'up the ladder' by obtaining my bachelor’s. This scholarship has helped me immensely and put my mind at ease, even just for a bit, knowing that there is slightly less of a burden that I need to take care of. I work very hard for what I have and it is nice to receive some help and some peace of mind knowing that I am not alone.”

“Thank you for your support,” said Kinetria Howard, a graduate of Mohawk Valley Community College and resident of Utica, N.Y. “I hope to use it as a means that will enable me to pay it forward wherever I can in the future.”

“Thank you so much for providing me with this opportunity,” said Philip Zwingelberg, a graduate of Hudson Valley Community College and resident of Valatie, N.Y. “As a father of three, working two jobs – I am a paramedic part time and a nurse full time – to support my family as I continue my education, I cannot tell you how much this sort of thing means to me. This scholarship will assist me as I pursue a bachelor’s degree in Nursing, which is rapidly becoming a requirement for nurses everywhere. My ultimate goal is to attend a graduate program and become an advanced practice nurse.”

“Thank you for believing in me and helping me accomplish my dreams,” said Lisa Taylor, a graduate of Dutchess Community College and resident of Walden, N.Y. “This scholarship will assist me with my books and materials I need for my classes. I am so proud of what I have accomplished in my college education and know I will do great things when I graduate. I am currently employed in the health care field and I try as much as possible to offer my assistance to people that need it. Choosing this field was the best choice for me. I can't wait to give back to the community and let people know how to ask for help and there is no judgement in my profession.”

“I would like to express my deepest appreciation to Stewart’s Shops for its generous scholarship, as well as its sincere and frequent willingness to support others in our community,” said Robert Epp, a graduate of Mohawk Valley Community College and resident of Waterford, N.Y. “I look forward to applying this generous gift to my fall ‘17 and spring ‘18 semesters. As both an Empire State College student and Army National Guard military intelligence officer, my educational goal is to achieve an understanding of Kurdish culture, politics and history from which I can provide more informed situational awareness and recommendations to military decision-makers operating in and around Northern Iraq. My Empire State College interdisciplinary studies have significantly helped me better understand my experiences in northern Iraq, where I previously served as an Army intelligence officer. My experiences there (in Iraq) have given me a solid foundation to structure a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree program. This fall I will study Kurdish 20th-century art, literature and music in order to gain a better understanding of how this group perceives the many significant events that have recently shaped their lives. This spring I will complete my program’s final project, which will seek to describe implications of recent United States-Kurdish relations to American foreign policy in the region.”

“I cannot express how grateful I am to receive this Stewart's Shops community college scholarship,” said Jamie L. Raucci, a graduate of Hudson Valley Community College and resident of Watervliet, N.Y. “I was lucky enough to receive this scholarship for my bachelor's degree at SUNY Empire and I am absolutely ecstatic to receive this for the last year of my graduate degree. I work more than 40 hours per week as a home health aide and case manager for elderly clients and I have recently started applying to jobs that will hopefully help me earn a higher income. It has been tough making enough money to pay my bills. This scholarship allows me a great opportunity to alleviate the amount of money I will have to take out in student loans to pay for my books, supplies and tuition. Receiving this scholarship helps to relieve the financial stress that I have been dealing with while attending college.”

“Thank you so much for your generous gift,” said Shannon Kralovic, a graduate of Fulton-Montgomery Community College and resident of Wells, N.Y. “I am currently in my third year as a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program, in which I am studying the differing treatment of queer identities in film and television. Because my professional objective after graduation is to perform curatorial work in a museum, I have incorporated the graduate certificate in Public History into my program. It is not lost on me how fortunate I am to be able to realize my academic dreams every day of my life.”

“I want to the thank the donors of this generous scholarship for selecting me as a recipient,” said Sharon Berg, a graduate of SUNY Adirondack and resident of Wevertown, N.Y. "I have taken so much pleasure in my educational experiences with Empire State College and the knowledge I have gained from it. I intend to complete my degree program in environmental studies this year and I look forward to starting the next chapter of my life in a career working with the public to improve social and environmental conditions. Funding my final year of undergraduate studies was proving to be a challenge and this money is a great relief. It will allow me to better focus on finishing my studies, so I can get the most out of them. This will give me a stronger foundation as I move on to put my education to good use in our communities after graduation.”

About the Empire State College - Stewart's Shops Community College Scholarship

The Stewart’s Shops scholarship program was first established in 2005 with a gift of $5,000, which was matched by the Empire State College Foundation.

Since then, Stewart’s Shops has increased its annual support of the scholarship to $20,000, and the college foundation has continued its match, resulting in $40,000 in scholarship awards each year.

Since 2005, Stewart’s Shops has contributed $236,000 to the college foundation in support of this scholarship program and more than 500 students have received scholarships.

Thursday, May 31, is the deadline to apply for scholarships for the upcoming 2018-19 academic year.

More information about the Stewart’s Shops Scholarship, including the list of the 16 community colleges and a link to the application, is available online.

About Stewart's Shops

Stewart’s Shops, a family- and employee-owned enterprise, has been in business for more than 70 years.

Stewart’s Shops manufacture and/or distribute three-quarters of what it sells. Milk and eggs are collected daily from family farms near the company plant.

There are more than 335 Stewart’s Shops located in 31 counties across upstate New York and southern Vermont.

More information about Stewart’s Shops is available online.