Select Scholar Name
Select Scholarship Awarded Year
Nora’s teachers, counselors, and community leaders regard her as a “phenomenal, talented, versatile leader” with great energy, a deep affinity for learning, and a role model for her peers. She is articulate, poised, thoughtful, and compassionate with a strong devotion to both her school and local communities.
She is an active member of Friendship Circle, where she spends time with a special needs child weekly. She is a senior leader in the Leadership Council with LiveGirl, where she trains camp counselors. Nora also led their designLab programming and launched a community recycling project.
She is active with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and SoundWaters. She also participates in fundraising for Operation Smile Club, Medical Mentorship, and MYLC which is an organization focused on raising awareness about mental health
Sebastian’s teachers describe him as “kind, genuine, intelligent, and passionate.” He embodies leadership and service, which helped him to become a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, a role reserved for only the most outstanding scouts. Sebastian is both a member of the youth leadership core as well as the adult leaders and he thoughtfully contributes to decisions in both realms.
In addition to earning more than 21 badges, completing his Eagle Scout project of installing a turtle pond at WHS, and being a Senior Patrol Leader and JASM for BSA Troop 15, Sebastian is Vice-President of FFA (Future Farmers of America)
and formerly was Chapter Treasurer. He also interned at SoundWaters educating the local community about Long Island Sound marine conservation. He continues his work by volunteering every week after school at the Westhill Agriscience Marine Lab, where he manages the saltwater lab and facilitates student lab activities. Sebastian is also a member of the National Honor Society as well as the Spanish Honor Society.
Elvis is known as a persevering leader who is deeply committed to school, his faith, and helping the community. He is recognized as being humble with excellent public speaking skills, and when approaching even the most minimal task he proceeds with excellence and dedication. Many who know Elvis express that “it is in his nature to uplift others with his words and actions.”
Elvis is a Youth Leader in his church Bible Study. He consistently plays an important part in Christian Fellowship for Fraternidad Cristiana Church and is a role model for the youth members. He continues his volunteer work outside the church
by mentoring local high school students at Future 5, participating in community projects for SoundWaters, and engaging in a service leadership role for the National Honors Society. Sebastian is the Co-Founder and President of SHS Personal Student Progress and Growth and President of the SHS chapter of Distributive Education Clubs of America.
Joaquin is a dedicated and conscientious student with a passion for giving back to his community. He is regarded as a student who executes his tasks with diligence while
exhibiting “strong decision-making skills and resilience in the face of challenges.” Joaquin has “a remarkable dedication to helping others” which is demonstrated through his numerous community activities.
Joaquin is a Future 5 Ambassador and has dedicated more than 144 hours to them demonstrating a strong commitment to their mission. He is a member of the SHS
Science National Honor Society as well as Treasurer of both the SHS Interact Club and National Honors Society. Joaquin continues his volunteer work with organizations such as SoundWaters, the Person2Person food pantry, and the City of Stamford‘s Hey Stamford Food Festival. He is a student member of Pollinator Pathway Stamford and was a leader of the Kosciuszko Park maintenance project. Joaquin also spends time tutoring English for Building One Community
Jose Portillo Palma
Jose is a steadfast student and dedicated to helping others. His teachers recognized Jose as a dedicated leader and role model for his peers. Jose’s pastor shares that he always shows “commitment and perseverance in the different tasks that have been assigned to him” and consistently does this with a “positive attitude, which influences those around him.”
Jose has devoted hundreds of hours to the Boys & Girls Club of Stamford, participating in many activities including the Keystone Club, dedicating 200 hours to tutoring and
mentoring younger students in STEM education. He also has participated in their five 5K fundraising events, volunteered at
multiple Family Fun Nights, and has been the Speaker at the Champions of Youth dinner. Jose is actively involved in the Winter Coat Drive and several HBCU Night activities. In addition to these volunteer activities, Jose consistently serves as a musician in Ministerios Fraternidad Cristiana Inc. (Christian Fellowship Ministries Inc.).
Amelia’s principal describes her as “a young woman of self-confidence, integrity, and kindness, with a calm quiet
demeanor, who carries herself with the utmost respect for herself, her family, and her community.” She is regarded as an extraordinary leader with great character, generosity, and involvement.
Amelia spends her time volunteering for Kids Helping Kids, working with Stamford High’s special needs classroom
to practice socialization skills. She is also involved with Stamford Leadership Academy, as President of the Youth Advisory Council; a Darien YMCA counselor-in-training;
and taking a significant leadership role in SHS community service projects such as the Thanksgiving Dinner Drive. Amelia was also an active volunteer for Caroline Simmons’ State Representative and Mayoral campaigns.
Given Dante’s tendency to stand out in a crowd in each of his extraordinarily varied passions, undertakings and achievements, in academics, the theater, creative arts, student government, volunteer community service and entrepreneurship, it’s a little surprising that the wellspring of his confidence and motivation was the time spent all alone in a small sailboat on the Long Island Sound. There, from a young age in the Blue Waters Bound sailing program and later at SoundWaters, Dante said he acquired the gift of self-reliance, as out there he quite literally became the captain of his own ship.
Still, Dante is no loner. At AITE he was freshman class treasurer and has been class president ever since, while gaining admission to the National Honor Society, the Future Business Leaders of America (serving as president since 2020 and more than quintupling its membership), and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. He’s been a member of Westhill’s Northstar Players, the CT Drama Association Competition and has performed twice in the All School Musical (a lead, Miss Trunchbull in Matilda the Musical!). As a freshman Dante was runner-up in the Stamford Public Schools’ city-wide Dolphin Tank Entrepreneur Competition, where he pitched an idea that he has since turned into a full-fledged business enterprise, The Bungalow Scent Co. (www.thebungalowscentco.com Look it up!) that creates, manufactures and sells scented candles and room sprays in stores, farmer’s markets and online. Simply put by Brenda Zanga, Entrepreneurship teacher at AITE, “he works, he volunteers and participates” and adds that she considers herself “so lucky to have had the privilege to have him in my classes and the opportunity to recommend him” for a scholarship, or we’d guess for anything, really.
Outside of school Dante has been deeply involved with SoundWaters, capping off his maritime education there as an instructor himself, where he has earned top reviews. Christina Genz, the Education Director says “Dante is a master of all of the ingredients of successful teaching, especially the ability to inspire.” He’s also shared his passion for the Sound with recent Latin American immigrants at Building One Community, combining weekly kayak lessons with shoreline clean-ups on weekend mornings throughout the summers. As a bonus, Dante says, he gets to practice his Spanish along the way.
Nor has Dante done it alone. He credits his mom, Danette Melchionne, as his champion and mentor, and among her lessons that he takes most to heart are those of tolerance and empathy. “Everybody has a story”, she says, cautioning her son not to judge others too quickly.
We at COTY agree. After all, if you just met Dante, you might think he’s just some really good student
It is no coincidence that singles tennis requires single-mindedness. To perform at a high level, they say, one must empty their thoughts of everything else in the moment, except of course, tennis. Well, in Aryan’s case (Westhill High School’s first CIAC LL Boy’s Tennis State Championship finalist in over 40 years!) we have a little trouble seeing how that could have been possible. You see, despite his prowess on the hard courts, Aryan has had a lot more spinning around in his head than tennis balls.
For one thing this extremely high-ranking National Honors Society member has been a Gold Medal winning fundraiser and President’s Volunteer Service Award winner for Sewa International, a Hindu faith-based, humanitarian, nonprofit service organization that specializes in worldwide disaster relief and rehabilitation irrespective of race, color, religion, gender or nationality. He has also served as a volunteer nurse at Stamford Hospital in its postoperative nursing unit, Westhill High Debate Captain, a Student of the Year in the Westhill Computer Science Academy, and a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist. Says his “unofficial” school counselor, Spiro Milas, “to complete all of this in addition to the herculean amount of homework associated with taking four AP courses this year alone is simply indescribable”.
Back to singles, Aryan has also been a one-on-one tutor with the CT STEM Kids Club and the JAKE Academy of Public Speaking, and has sacrificed many precious high school Saturdays working with the AMBYESE (Annual Multicultural Business Youth Educational Services Embarkment) organization, which assists students with standardized test prep, STEM subject enrichment and career exploration. Said one of his successful tutees whom Aryan guided through AP Biology, “Aryan devised specific study schedules, revising entire units prior to exams. His efforts demonstrated utmost dedication, given his commitment to my understanding, and it paid off, yielding higher grades and self-confidence. Aryan is an impressive individual.”
Aryan has three heroes--first and foremost, his parents whom he credits with providing the love, support and the tools for success that he knows will continue to guide him. And also one more, whom he could not have met, but who has guided him just the same--Mahatma Gandhi, who said “A man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes.”
The depth and breadth of thought demonstrated by Aryan in his high school career has us at COTY convinced he will continue to become someone very special and we are very pleased to award him a 2022 Scholarship.
Mike is one of the rare COTY winners who was preceded in the award by a sibling, his brother Alex, although scholarship is hardly the only Edward’s family business. The entrepreneurial Edward’s have built a Christmas tree farm, a hemp farm pilot for CBD, Toasty Toes Firewood Company and Edward’s Landscaping Services, all rooted in their grandparent’s family farm in Redding. The farm is also what first inspired Alex and Mike to start “Bee Brothers” in 2019, based on the Edward’s beekeeping hobby, a series of very popular presentations where they shared beekeeping art and science with Stamford elementary students, in particular at Stark School under the grateful direction of Asst. Principal Joseph Claps. When Alex went off to the University of Virginia (where Mike is also bound), their younger sister Annie joined the team, now dubbed “The Beekeepers for the Future” and to date the three of them have demonstrated the critical role of those very busy pollinators with over 2,500 students in half the city’s elementary schools!
That success, with the guidance of Mike’s AP Environmental Science teacher Carley Grant, led Mike to found and lead “Viking Apiaries” at Westhill, a club that has attracted a diverse membership (including a couple of teachers!). It meets regularly on its mission to spread word of the honeybees’ essential role in the environment and in agriculture, and seeks to grow the hobby of beekeeping while raising funds to start Westhill’s own apiary which has, in turn, already produced and sold enough honey to purchase more beehives and equipment to sustain it into the future.
At once focused and multifaceted, Mike is also deeply interested in U.S. History, in particular WW II and the Civil War, which led him to become a member and volunteer with the Office of State Archaeology. With his metal detector Mike has conducted his own “digs” unearthing musket balls, military buttons, silver coins and other relics from the Civil War, establishing an organized and documented collection with the guidance of experienced archaeologists. He’s also learned to analyze soil composition and stratigraphy to help identify the era of a given relic’s origin.
Some of Mike’s other extracurricular activities include coaching wrestling with Stamford Junior Wrestling, where he’s also an alumni, volunteering at the Stamford Hospital Cardiology Ward, and serving as Community Outreach Coordinator with the Westhill Angels, a school based community service organization that sponsors and operates food, clothing, school supply and other drives for those less fortunate. Also as a straight-A student engaged in multiple Honors and AP courses through his high school career, Mike serves as Vice President of the National Honor Society, organizing and providing tutoring for other Westhill students. And on top of all that, Mike is the captain of the Westhill Varsity Baseball Team.
Now back to family business—Mike credits his Mom and Dad with giving him the love, encouragement and guidance that have made him who he is today—an exceptional pupil, budding environmental scientist and archaeologist, entrepreneur, history buff, star athlete and an excellent brother. Wherever life leads you (and we hope it’s back to Stamford), we at COTY say congratulations Mike!
Perhaps one wouldn’t expect it of a serious, motivated, high ranking Stamford High Senior given to volunteering with special needs children, religious education, and community service, but when it comes to superheroes, especially Marvel Comics movie superheroes, Mollie Herz is a huge fan. Uncle Ben, that is, Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, famously told his spidey-sensed nephew “with great power comes great responsibility” and while Mollie may not have the power thing down just yet, she’s already taken on enough responsibility to give pause to Spiderman himself.
Since middle school Mollie has volunteered as an assistant swim instructor with Swim Angelfish, an adaptive swim organization dedicated to children with various special needs, motor difficulties and sensory processing disorders. Now also working there as a lifeguard, Mollie organizes the pool equipment, greets families, answers questions and assists the instructors and therapists to keep the children safe. Mollie’s mentor and Swim Angelfish’s co-owner, Ailene Tisser says “The children . . . adore Mollie and love seeing her each week. . . she is reliable, compassionate, and patient with the children in our program. . . she is very passionate about pursuing the field of Physical Therapy and will be a true asset to whichever program she applies for.”
As an active member of the Temple Beth El community, Mollie has participated in numerous youth program activities and community service projects, and is a member of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization which performs charitable works like collection drives, packing parties and fundraisers throughout the Stamford area. For the past five years she also has volunteered as a teacher’s aide for Beth El’s Thursday afternoon and Sunday morning religious classes, and a grateful Lisa Gittelman-Udi, its Director of Congregational Learning, says “she has a wonderful manner with younger children and truly serves as a role model . . . who truly understands and takes to heart what it means to be of service to her community”.
Mollie has also served as a member of Friendship Circle, an organization whose mission is to bridge the gap between special needs and typical youth through shared experience, especially in their Buddies at Home program, where she mentored an individual child at home. And for the past two years she’s been president of Friendly Faces at Stamford High, also dedicated to making students with special needs feel that they are in integral part of the school community. Jumpstart, a therapeutic early childhood classroom experience for two year olds with special needs, and Leadership Academy, a volunteer organization at Stamford High, have also been lucky enough to have Mollie’s enthusiastic participation.
No one knew what makes a superhero better than Marvel’s creator, Stan Lee. He said “that person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt a real superhero.”
Now that sounds a lot like Mollie, and we at COTY are huge fans
One might say that AITE Guidance Counselor Joshua Bogard was given to hyperbole when he pledged his future vote for Aishwarya for “President of the World”. After all, she’s only a high school senior and of course there’s the fact that the office itself is not really a thing. Still, one would guess there has to be a reason for that kind of enthusiasm for a student’s future. Actually, there are many.
Beginning at least as far back as middle school Aishwarya discovered the impact she could have on others as an assistant counselor for four and five year olds at Union Memorial Preschool, taking on more and more responsibility with each passing year. But that was just the start. As a freshman at AITE she was part of the inaugural year of Generation Impact, a young woman-led not-for-profit that fundraises and provides grants for meaningful causes like Center for Children’s Advocacy, DOMUS Kids, CLC, Open Door Shelter and Building One Community (to name a few) and one of Aishwarya’s passions, Mental Health Services (at Bridgeport Hospital), eventually becoming GI’s Membership Chair on the Board of Directors. Said Sara Allard and Ellen Reid, GI’s Program Advisors “Aishwarya is one of the most positive, outgoing and engaging teenagers we know. . .we consider ourselves so lucky to have her in our program!” Meanwhile she had also joined Interact Club as a freshman (the Rotary’s youth branch), performing community service programs such as Toys for Tots, food and blood drives, and many others, becoming its President for her junior and senior years. President. You might see where this is going.
Aishwarya has become President of pretty much every organization she has joined that has one—The Spanish Honor Society, which has raised funds for Nicaragua, the National Honor Society attending to tutoring other students, and the Science Honor Society providing STEM programs for elementary, middle and other high school students. She has also been on the Executive Board of the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council since sophomore year, leading programs for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, Lead Ambassador for AITE providing orientation to new students, and Table Leader for AITE’s Out of the Box night promoting STEM to younger students. As a junior she finished first as an individual speaker in the CT State Debate Competition (taking second place overall), and even was part of a team that had a research paper published by the IEEE MIT Undergraduate Research Technology Conference concerning methods to curb teen vaping.
Next up for Aishwarya is the University of Virginia, which she will attend as a prestigious Jefferson Scholar, which may be a step on the path to neuroscientific research, a pursuit which combines her passion for mental health awareness and her precocious aptitude in the sciences. But wherever it may lead, we have no doubt, she will be a leader.
Mr. Bogard, we at COTY see your point.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
“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!