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Dante Ayars

2022

AITE

Aryan Donikena

2022

Westhill High School

Michael Edwards

2022

Westhill High School 

Mollie Herz

2022

Stamford High School

Aishwarya Sivasubramanian

2022

AITE

Hannah Bushell

2020

To this straight A, AP Honors senior, the world has been a welcoming place, and so she decided it should be that way for everyone.

That’s why Hannah has volunteered at Building One Community, teaching English to recent immigrants and tutoring citizenship applicants, as well as serving as a Youth Leader, providing leadership and training to 80 other B1C high school volunteers. Hannah has developed a unique ability to engage with people from very diverse cultures and backgrounds.


Hannah’s welcoming nature is also why she became the president of Stamford High’s Friendly Faces, an organization dedicated to ensuring that the student community’s inclusiveness extends to students with special needs, to help them get the most out of their high school years. Under her leadership, club membership, monthly activities, and fundraising opportunities have all skyrocketed. Her energy and inspirational efforts to encourage fellow students to participate has been infectious.


Hannah plans for a career as a physician, and of course to continue to lift up others along the way. And we at COTY are sure that for each and every one of them that stops to thank her, she’ll really mean it when she replies, “you’re welcome”.

Sabine Charles

2020

This once bashful SHS freshman blossomed into a leader, an influencer, and a vital member of our community.


Sabine Charles’ hard work and dedication for Future 5 community projects like the Pollinator Garden, Fairgate Farms, the Mill River Collaborative, the Stamford Downtown Parade Spectacular, the Diaper Drive, Light the Night, Person to Person, the Bartlett Arboretum, Veteran’s Park, the Food Bank, ARI, and many others. Her “all-in positive spirit” led her to be one of the very first Future 5 Ambassadors, which expanded her responsibilities to include welcoming and orienting new members, fundraising, and advising staff about enrichment opportunities.


Sabine’s list of contributions also includes, Stamford Public Education Foundation, Martin Luther King Jr. March, the Afro Roots Food Drive and Stamford High’s Unified Sports Rally. She has a way with young children spending many hours volunteering to baby sit at the First Haitian Free Methodist Church and reading and relating to the kids at the Kingdom Kids Daycare.

Sabine credits her family, her friends, and Future 5 for their inspiration and guidance. The future certainly looks bright for Sabine and we at COTY are very happy to help her along the way with a 2020 Scholarship.

Thomas Connolly

2020

No creature can make you feel as important as a puppy can. As just a ten-year-old, Thomas Connolly saw how to put that love to use. By taking in and providing a puppy pre-K for future seeing-eye and service-dogs for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, these future hero pooches could make a lasting impact for those most in need. So that’s what Thomas did, nearly thirty times for multiple puppies in eight years, right through his senior year at Stamford High.


This A student in the AP and Honors programs and 4 year varsity lacrosse player and team captain, has also been a volunteer coach at Stamford Youth Lacrosse, a St. John’s Vacation Bible School counselor, a member of the SHS Leadership Academy, the National Honor Society, the Science National Honor Society, the SHS Debate Team, SHS Friendly Faces (helping special needs students), a Person to Person and Lower Fairfield County Food Bank volunteer, and in Ath-Life Program as a tutor for struggling student athletes.


A gifted writer, Thomas also won the Stamford Literacy Contest for his article about the disparity in Stamford sports coverage compared to neighboring towns. And yet, we at COTY are still pretty amped about the puppies.

Alex Edwards

2020

The buzz surrounding Alex Edwards isn’t just talk. Alex cofounded “Bee Brothers”, a series of educational workshops for elementary school students, teaching the crucial role of honeybees in our environment. Alex’s bee sessions are perfectly organized, highly engaging, and jam packed with meaningful content.


An all “A” honors student and 2 sport, 4 year varsity athlete, Alex credits his wrestling and lacrosse skills to his years with the Stamford Junior Wrestling Club (SJWC) and the Stamford Youth Lacrosse Association (SYLA). Alex has volunteered as a coach and referee for SJWC for five years, and at SYLA for two, and helps make Stamford’s annual CT Elementary School State Wrestling Championships a success.


As National Honor Society Vice President, Alex convinced his fellow NHS members to help clean up the Westhill Gardens, and he’s also pitched in at the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County, tutored math and science at Tutor Me SOS, and worked with Habitat for Humanity.

Alex credits his teachers and coaches, and especially his parents, who set him in the right direction and created Edward’s Apiary, which along with everything else, helps keep him as busy as a . . . well, you know.

Zachary Kitay

2020

Some obstacles are physical, like a rocky slope set for climbing. Others are metaphorical, like a political chasm or a mountain of indifference. Zac Kitay believes he can cross them all, and he is off to a greatstart.


A varsity athlete (a pole vaulter and diver), Zac foundedthe Westhill High School Rock ClimbingClub, creating a bridge between his school and the climbing studio where he is an instructor. As Regional Presidentof the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, he ledover 850 teens committed to spreading a broader understanding across religious, racial and societal divides.


As a top student in the WHS Agriscience and Technology Program, and member of the Future Farmers of America, Zac’s leadership lifted him to the position of Chapter Sentinel, where his thoughtful consideration of others helped his fellow students feel more like afamily, no matter their background.

A National Honor Society member, Zac has volunteered with Jewish Family Services, Bennett Cancer Center’s Hope in Motion Walk, Friendship Circle, andhas created many graphic designs and illustrations for The Westword, Westhill’s nationally acclaimed student newspaper.


We at COTY doubt that there is a mountainout there, rocky or not, that Zac Kitay cannot climb.

Wendy Lopez

2020

Wendy Lopez

Wendy Lopez strives to be “comfortable with being uncomfortable,” It’s the best wayto grow, she says, and it’s worked for her,and through her, benefitted many others. At Future 5 Wendy became a Student Ambassador, welcoming new members and helping them integrate into the community with her unique ability to make all those present feelcomfortable and her unique ability to make everyone feel involved and important.


On Wendy’s desire to one day teach, her Stamford High AVID Coordinator, Gina Figluizzi says she is excitedbecause “she is organized, energetic, disciplined, kind and patient. She is exactly the kind of young teacherwe need”.

Other beneficiaries of Wendy’s determination include Inspirica, Bartlett Arboretum, Food Bankof Lower Fairfield County, Fairgate Farm, Person-to-Person, St. Mark’s Church, the Pacific House and many others. She’s also been a mainstay in the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council,logging countless hours promoting social causeslike March for Our Lives, the voiceless victims of sexual assault, diversity is our strength, and manymore.


Wendy says she’s been blessed with the love and guidance of big sister Cindy and her parents Jorge and Rosy. Wherever lifeleads her, we at COTY are feeling very comfortable about awarding Wendy a 2020 Scholarship.

Martine Prevot

2020

Martine has spent her entire high school career striving for excellence because like Maya Angelou, “she’s counting on you counting on” her. And lots of people have, at Future 5, the Stamford Public Education Foundation (SPEF), Inspirica, Stamford High’s Leadership Academy, and others.


With Future 5, Martine has helped connect low income high school students to services, people, and opportunities to help make the world around her a better place. She’s worked with the Mill River Collaborative, the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County, the Veterans Park Dog Tag Project, and more. As one of just twenty “highly engaged” mentors in the SPEF’s Stamford Mentoring Program, Martine spent her junior and senior years meeting each week with a group of Stark School students, listening to them and guiding them to participate in activities that encourage community involvement and build strong character.


Martine has also been the SHS Basketball Team manager, the Afro Roots Club president, and volunteered at the Pollinator Garden, Hope in Motion, the MLK Jr. March, and the Stamford DSSD Parade Spectacular, among other endeavors. As an ECMC scholar, she’s also excelled in the classroom.


We at COTY feel pretty good about having someone like Martine to count on.

Samuel Diamond

2019

Sam Diamond is the kind of guy who is not afraid to get in over his head. Sure, he could have decided to cruise through high school college prep courses, but that wouldn’t be Sam. Instead, he dove into the most demanding curriculum that Stamford High had to offer, including upper-class Advanced Placement courses like Physics, Calculus, English and Environmental Sciences, and other Honors courses (going all the way back to Freshman year), earning swimmingly top grades and a spot in the National Honor Society along the way. On top of that, Sam got in even deeper with multiple extracurricular endeavors at SHS like Interact where he volunteers with the ROSCCO afterschool program at Newfield School, the SHS Leadership Academy mentoring incoming Freshmen, and he has immersed himself into the Environmental Action Committee and Students Demand Action, the student response to Parkland. He is also proud to be a multimedia editor for The Round Table, the online SHS newspaper. 

Okay, sorry about all the aquatic references, but they’re not just a metaphor. Sam is also a trained lifesaver. A CPR/AED certified Life Guard, he’s lettered in varsity swimming and is a head life guard and swimming instructor for the City of Stamford. So, if you (or Bradley Cooper or Lady Gaga, even) ever find yourself “far from the shallow”, Sam Diamond is a good guy to have around. 

Outside of school Sam has also made time to volunteer through the JCC with the New Covenant House serving meals, the Lox Box breakfast fundraiser for the Pacific House, the Maccabi Games where he served on its Teen Council, and the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, a Jewish teen youth organization lead by students. Also, at BBYO, Sam created a Big Brother program to help underclassmen and has served as its Vice President of Programming and Recruitment. 

Shayna Druckman

2019

“Dangerous” is not typically a compliment nor a word that would spring to mind to describe a woman who tops out at five feet nothing. Still in 1902 when mining industry leaders used it to describe activist Mary Harris (“Mother Jones”), a courageous labor organizer and child safety advocate, because their brutal industry practices were threatened by her activism, it meant she was making a difference. But even so, no one then could have known Ms. Harris’ full impact, because about a century later another, equally petite woman, would be born to be inspired by her. 

Stamford High Senior Shayna Druckman has rounded out a stellar academic career with a passion for activism, a long list of influences in addition to Ms. Harris (especially her Mom, herself an activist, and her Dad, a selfless soul), and a longer list of achievements. As the founder of Students Demand Action, a school safety organization she created in response to the Parkland MSD tragedy, she served as a student leader for Stamford’s March for Our Lives. She’s also headed Friendly Faces—dedicated to improving high school for special needs students, and participated in Leadership Academy providing student mentorship, the Abilis Youth Board, Interact, and the Environmental Action Club.  She is also the editor-in-chief of the Round Table, Stamford High’s online newspaper, guided by Mr. Ringel, her journalism teacher. 

In a lengthy and effusive COTY recommendation from State Rep. Matthew Blumenthal where he expressed his gratitude for her talents, her “sunny disposition” and hard work as an intern, he said “I am even more grateful that she will be using them to better our community and our world.” Stamford High Principal Raymond Manka said of her Friendly Faces participation “it is because of Shayna’s leadership and support” that club membership doubled and increased “community awareness of our special needs population in the mainstream setting”. And with these endorsements comes another just this month—Stamford History Center named her one of the Five Women Leaders of Tomorrow. 

Shayna has other interests. A lifelong and sometimes competitive dancer, she favors tap because “you have to give all of your concentration to the steps and the sounds, which is a great way to relieve stress and be completely in the moment.” She also enjoys cooking, laughing, chatting and making up songs. 

Shayna Druckman is indeed dangerous. And just like Mother Jones, COTY believes Shayna should take that as a  compliment!

Eliel Duquene

2019

Ask this Stamford High Senior what motivates him and at first, he reflects inwardly. His passion for fitness, sports and in his (rare) quiet time, drawing and art, are all focused on self-improvement and self-expression. But if you ask any of the many not-for-profit organizations where he has spent countless hours helping others, there’s no “self” in Eliel at all. From Operation Pathways at Bayview Towers, where he performed maintenance, gardening and some office work, to Stamford Public Education Foundation, where he mentors fifth graders, to places like New Covenant Center, the Palace Theater, Mill River Park, Inspirica, Person to Person, Fairgate Farm and the Ferguson Library, Eliel has earned a solid reputation for selflessness and reliability.

Future 5, a now ten-year-old Stamford organization dedicated to setting a positive path for our youth (and a pretty  reliable source of COTY Scholarship winners) is a pretty lucky connection for lots of kids. But according to its founder, Clif McFeely, in 2015 Future 5 had a bit of luck itself when Eliel signed up—and not merely signed up, but jumped right in. Clif says as a high performing student and a varsity athlete in Lacrosse, “I don’t know how Eliel has the time to accomplish all of this, but Future 5 and the Stamford community are the beneficiaries of this remarkable young man’s positive energy, drive and  character.” Regan Allen of SPEF says “with his enthusiastic demeanor, he is the mentor assigned to work with elementary school students who may be disengaged or having a bad day, because I know his unwavering support will give them the confidence to participate.”

Eliel credits his parents for providing him with a strong work ethic, moral guidance, and love, and thanks Future 5 and 100 Black Men of Stamford (and their monthly speaker program) for giving him the inspiration to reach high.  Eliel will attend college in the fall and hopes for a career in physical therapy because for all this remarkable young man’s interests, he is by far the most interested in healing others.

Stamford COTY is pleased to help Eliel help others with a 2019 Scholarship. 

Maureen Ferrer

2019

With about 1,600 program participants, the Boys and Girls Club of Stamford sees a lot of talented youth each year, but none more dedicated or involved than Stamford High Senior Maureen Ferrer. As the BGC at Yerwood Center’s 2019 Youth of the Year and Keystone Club (the Ultimate Teen Program) President, Maureen has spent countless hours at organizing and participating in fundraising and outreach events like City Chic, BGC Christmas Dinners and Breakfast of Champions, bingo nights, bake sales, pop-up stores and the Stamford High Holiday Fair, and is a BGC art teacher and counselor. She’s served as BGC’s S.M.A.R.T. Girls facilitator mentoring second grade girls, and helped with so many other programs it’s hard to list them all here. Melissa Stanley of BGC says “Maureen is an exceptional student who has been able to balance school, extracurricular activities and her business effortlessly.” Dwayne Stephenson of BGC observed that “her passion for art and helping others has flourished tremendously since she was younger, and it shows in everything that she is involved in.” 

Maureen has the eye of an artist and has generously shared her sense of style, volunteering with Kids Helping Kids Dress Boutique, helping about 1000 Stamford girls in finding clothing and accessories, and has shared her gift for giving with KHK’s Gift of Giving annual holiday program. She’s also an annual volunteer for the Marc US for Change Race (Future Business Leaders of America), and for her big brother Dave, who coordinates the BGC Stamford 5K race among other not-for-profit endeavors. 

At Stamford High, Maureen has distinguished herself academically, especially in the arts where she is a member of the National Arts Honor Society and an AP student in Studio Art. But she also has a knack for business (an AP student in  microeconomics) and is going to Central Connecticut State University to major in marketing and entrepreneurship. 

And she has a head start. A budding entrepreneur, Maureen created @MosClothingCo and @Mo_thePainter. To get an idea of just how much talent Maureen has to offer, visit them on Instagram!

Maureen credits her big brother Dave, Melissa Stanley and especially mentor James Kendall for inspiring her fearless approach to life and art. COTY is happy to award Maureen a 2019 Scholarship

Jacob Herz

2019

We are not sure if there is a minimum age for mensch-hood (or even if that’s a word), but if not, Jacob is definitely a prime contender. As a Stamford High senior with an excellent academic record that lists numerous Honors and AP courses, one might get the impression that Jacob spends all of his spare time discussing erudite concepts with other student elites. And if so, one would be incorrect. Rather, Jacob has devoted the spare time in his young career teaching, mentoring and most of all, being a friend to kids with special needs. 

 

Deeply involved in organizations like Friendship Circle, JumpStart at the JCC, Interact, and the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, Jacob has earned a reputation as one who is “cheerful, reliable and responsible” according to the Director of Congregational Learning at Temple Beth El, Lisa Gittelmen Udi. She notes that Jacob “has helped make our educational program stronger and for the past 5 plus years, he has enriched the lives of many children in the Stamford community.”

One of these special children, seven-year-old Aaron, was lucky enough to meet Jacob through Friendship Circle. His mom, Stacey wrote to COTY about the many therapeutic appointments that have occupied so much of his young life. “But then Jacob came along. He is simply there to be Aaron’s friend—no therapy, no judgment; just there to be his friend. How nice is that?” Stacey said Jacob is “creative and kind” and “has a whole lot of patience.” When Jacob visits she says, “it’s Aaron’s favorite part of the week.”

Jacob credits his parents (whom among other things turned him onto his “current” favorite artist, Billy Joel), his BBYO mentors David Giver and David Klein, and especially his Grandpa (and their joint international rock collection) for inspiration and guidance along the way. Oh, and he also gives a shout out to Ferris Bueller who said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.” We don’t think Jacob Herz is likely to miss anything.

Stamford COTY is proud to have a mensch like Jacob earn a 2019 Scholarship. As Aaron’s Mom would say, how nice is that?

Lauren Klym

2019

Among the many inspirations for invention, none are more poignant than tragedy. So it was that as a Rippowam Middle School student, Lauren Klym was struck by the sight of so many panicked parents picking up their children on the morning of Sandy Hook. Then, when Parkland happened last February, Lauren, a lifelong Girl Scout and then a Westhill High School junior, took particular notice of one Marjory Stoneman Douglas student who said she had been especially frightened because the substitute teacher that had been assigned to her class on that horrific day may have lacked the knowledge or training to safeguard her classroom. With that, Lauren went to work. With input from the Stamford Police, the school faculty and administration and her own research, she developed a schoolwide lockdown plan comprised of individual room layouts (that she spent a summer drawing herself), check lists and procedures for posting in each classroom. Perhaps most impressive is that she recognized the panic that would prevail if it had to be employed, and so designed it for quick consumption for different kinds of readers, the verbal and the visual. 

Lauren did not stop there—Stamford Education for Autism, SPEF, Interact, LandD Crew Director, Bridges Academy, Stamford FFA, Abilis Youth Board and the Lacrosse team have all benefitted from Lauren’s enthusiasm. According to her very impressed Westhill Principal (and before that, Rippowam assistant principal), Michael Rinaldi, “from the moment I met Lauren it was very apparent that she was a kind and happy young person of exceptional character who was also very dedicated to her studies . . . now what’s even more apparent is that this excellent student has also grown in to an incredibly talented student leader.” Of Lauren’s pursuit of a Girl Scout Gold Award (its highest honor) her co-leader, Nicole Sandford said “I’ve watched her pursue higher education with discipline, rigor, and passion. Frankly, I don’t know that I’ve seen anyone put as much thoughtful effort into this process.”

Lauren, who is inspired by her Mom’s amazing ability to multitask, and by other strong women leaders like Indra Nooyi, loves this quote from Mahatma Gandhi: "Be the change you wish to see in the world." And she also lives it. Just this month, Stamford History Center named her one of the Five Women Leaders of Tomorrow.

Stamford COTY is proud to participate in Lauren’s bright future by awarding her a 2019 Scholarship

Claudia Lucien

2019

When this outstanding AITE Senior told us “to understand the present, you must understand the past” she was referring to the sacrifices her parents, who emigrated from Haiti thirty years ago, have made working long hours to provide for her and her siblings a chance at the American Dream. By taking that opportunity and turning it into a high school career worthy of the National Honor Society, the National Science Honor Society, the Pillar of Character and other accolades, she affirms the success and wisdom of an even deeper history—our American Experiment.

Also, a first-generation college student (attending UCONN in the fall), Claudia has embraced her heritage while plunging headlong into a future that she hopes, and we expect, will include a career in medicine. As Head Acolyte of St. John’s Episcopal Haitian Congregation (in which she assists the priest during weekly services), she has also been a church camp counselor and versatile volunteer since she was nine years old. As a member of Future 5, she’s spent countless hours helping at places like the Stamford Food Bank, Inspirica, ARI’s Walk for Independence, Veteran’s Park Dog Tag Project and others. As a member of the Medical Mentorship Club and the Perry Initiative, she has had hands on experience in her future career as a nurse practitioner or physician.

She has relied on many mentors, and earned many fans at AITE, Future 5, and St. John’s. Her guidance counselor Maria DeAntonis sums it up: “Claudia is an outstanding individual with infinite promise.” Her Honors Physics teacher, Bing Yang, calls her “hardworking and serious” who thinks about what she hears.” Her teacher Dr. Samah Chadli cites her “trustworthiness and caring” as standout traits while she has chosen to take the hardest courses and earned the “Academic Excellence Award distinguishing her as a top student in the Biomedical Program.”

If Claudia were receiving an Academy Award, the music would start long before she finished her thank-you’s: “Future 5--Clif, Lise, Deirdre, Maddie, Nancy, Raul, Polly, Rachel, and Jane; St. John’s Episcopal Church: Haitian Congregation; my guidance counselor Mrs. DeAntonis, my teachers Mrs. Middleton, Dr. Chadli, Ms. Yang; and most of all, my mentor Sharon Katz.”

Stamford COTY is also proud to be a small part of Claudia’s future, and that makes us feel just a little more patriotic. 

William Gold

2018

"There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up." By living these / words by author John Andrew Holmes in the few years that have spanned his high school career, Will Gold must have developed a heart like Secretariat.

 

For Will, there is no substitute for the feeling he gets when he helps others, and he gets that feeling a whole lot. A dedicated member of the not-for-profit Friendship Circle since 2014, Will has participated with enthusiasm in their MVP program, the Friends at Home Program, and their Children's Circle Program, all dedicated to assisting children with special needs through sports, music, art therapy and storytelling. But most of all, for Will, it is about the power of friendship, and his easy manner and enthusiasm has spread to the other teen volunteers. That's why he's been appointed to the Friendship Circle Teen Board, where he leads others, organizing events, planning programs and recruiting other volunteers, with heart.and his dedication is not just reserved for the little ones. Will has also volunteered at Brighton Gardens Senior Living Facility ever since his high school career began. There he serves meals, sings, dances and entertains the residents. He's even

been given a regular seat at the bridge table something that's turned into a passion. Of bridge (and portending much more)
Will says "I have learned that while you may not always get the best hand, you make the best of what you have." Lori Gunn, the Brighton Business Director said about Will "I even struggle with the word 'volunteer'," because he has become so much more to the residents and staff.

 

In seeming defiance of the time space continuum (his favorite author is Sci-Fi icon Ray Bradbury) Will is also a certified EMT who volunteers with Greenwich EMS, he is a member of the National Honor Society, and the Westhill High School Leadership and Development Crew. He credits his parents and family for showing him that while anything is possible, you have to make what is probable. He is especially inspired by his grandfather Michael Gleiberman, a holocaust survivor and to Will, a hero.