Scholarship Recipients

2019 Recipients

Recipients who were available to attend the DVEC luncheon 5/22/19 (L to R):
Sienna Coleman, Alexcia McKinney

 Sienna Coleman, Ursinus College – Pursuing BA in English & Education, Minor in Spanish – Class of 2020
Sienna has a GPA of 3.83. She has been inducted into the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society and the Whitian’s Women’s Honor Society and she serves as the Vice President of New Member Education and Education Director of the Tri Sigma sorority chapter at Ursinus. Sienna’s relevant teaching experience includes working as a Math and Reading Tutor with Kumon Education Center, two semesters volunteering as an ESL teacher through a partnership between Ursinus and Centro Cultural Latinos Unidos Pottstown, a teaching fellowship last summer with Breakthrough Collaborative in Philadelphia, and a job as an associate teacher with Bright Horizons Daycare. She is also an editor with the Ursinus Grizzly newspaper and has been active in Ursinus Theater productions, both as a performer and a crew member. In her essay, Sienna shared insight about her experience with the 7th grade students that she taught writing to last summer in the Breakthrough program. She discovered that the students were at vastly different levels of preparedness, and specifically spoke about one particular student who was struggling and required additional assistance, and how all of the students, even that one, made strides in their essay writing abilities by the end of the summer. At times, Sienna felt intimidated and had some self-doubt, but she stated that “every time that a student would raise his or her hand and answer a question, I felt a wave of joy and pride wash over me” and that was evidence to her that they were listening and trying and gave her proof that she has what it takes to be a teacher. This is only validated by her glowing recommendations, which spoke of her campus leadership, belief in education’s transformational power, commitment to excellence, and enthusiasm. One of her recommenders referred to her as a “pipe cleaner teacher” – meaning that she is willing to be flexible to any extent that is needed and is always willing to go the extra mile – as well as a “sponge” – who, when given feedback, will take it and run with it. Sienna was recommended wholeheartedly for this scholarship and I think it’s obvious why we chose Sienna as one of our recipients.

Kaitlyn Ferreri, Drexel University – Pursuing BS in Middle Level Education, Concentration in Math and English, Minor in Psychology, TESL (Teaching of English as a Second Language) Certificate – Class of 2020
Kaitlyn is a student in the Pennoni Honors College and has a GPA of 3.84. Kaitlyn is the recipient of the A.J. Drexel Scholarship, the Philip Cronin Endowed Scholarship, and a Certificate of Merit in Professional Development. She is a member of Future Educators of Drexel and Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority and sits on the Executive Board of Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society as the Secretary and Fundraising Chair. For the past two semesters, Kaitlyn completed a pre-student teaching experience at Science Leadership Academy Middle School in Philadelphia and she received an Unpaid Co-Op Grant from Drexel for this experience. In her essay, Kaitlyn discussed how that experience confirmed the confidence she has in her career decision. She specifically credited her cooperating teacher with encouraging her to not only teach a few daily lessons, but to actually take over an entire math class period each day. Through this opportunity, she learned about what teaching is really like – that “not every lesson goes according to plan, some days are better than others, and kids really, really, really like baby oranges.” Kaitlyn’s cooperating teacher was one of her recommenders, and her letter was very strong. She emphasized that Kaitlyn’s relationships with students are positive, caring and genuine, that she models productivity, persistence, effort and curiosity, and that she really is is a born educator. Kaitlyn’s other recommender, a Drexel professor, has similar sentiments, stating that Kaitlyn clearly loves teaching, is dedicated to her students and to her craft, and has a bright future in education.

Dillan Leonard, Rosemont College – Pursuing BS in Elementary and Special Education, Minor in Political Science – Class of 2020
Dillan has a GPA of 4.0. She is President of the Rosemont Book Club, Treasurer of the Campus Yoga club, Board Member of the Campus Honors Program Board,  member of the Drama Club, and has participated in the Alternative Spring Break and Winter Break Service Teams. Dillan is also a Peer Leader for New Student Orientation, a Head Tour Guide for the Office of Admissions, and a Reflection Group Facilitator with the Office of Campus Ministry. She has held multiple para-professional roles in the education field, including an Aftercare Caregiver and Teacher’s Assistant at Holy Child School at Rosemont, Substitute Teacher’s Assistant at Horseheads Central School District in NY state, and a Lifeguard at a campsite lake in Chemung County, NY. Dillan’s essay shared some personal experiences from her childhood that impacted her decision to become a teacher, specifically the challenges of being raised along with her three siblings by a single father with recession-based employment struggles. She referred to her childhood as “chaotic” but found school to be her safe haven, as her teachers knew of her situation at home yet never treated her differently. They were encouraging and cheerful and made her feel important, like she was the “main character in a storyline that would spell nothing but success” rather than the “extra in a family drama.” Dillan knew starting in kindergarten that she wanted to be a teacher, and has never wavered in this choice. She strives to be the teacher that makes all her students feel welcome and important. Her recommenders strongly support Dillan’s career goal. One stated that “she has the drive, energy, and spirit to do great things as an educator” and the other confirmed that Dillan has the “passion for instilling a love of learning in the students” that will make her a tremendous asset in the classroom.

Alexcia McKinney, Eastern University – Pursuing BA in Early Childhood Education, Concentration in English as a Second Language – Class of 2020
Alexcia has a GPA of 4.0 but she has so many A+’s that if Eastern assigned grades over a 4.0, she’d actually have a 4.16! Alexcia is actively involved on campus in leadership roles, including 2 years as an RA, President of Precious Moments, the campus dance ministry club, and membership in Kappa Delta Pi Education Honors Society. Her education-related experience has included volunteering as a helper with first grade students at Oxford Valley Elementary School, Teaching Sunday School at City Line Church, and hosting youth groups on summer service trips through City Service Mission. Alexcia is a student worker in Eastern’s College of Education and she has also spent her summers working as an entertainer at Sesame Place, which has included performing in costume as Elmo! Alexcia’s essay was very engaging, as it creatively shared her experience of a day-long job interview in a snowstorm that included a tour through neighborhoods in Philadelphia to visit various public schools. She was in tears when she saw buildings that looked more like prisons than elementary schools, and as she wrote “at this moment, as flakes of snow danced in the wind, I wholeheartedly knew that I made the right decision” and she believes that the snow symbolized a new beginning for her, establishing her goal as a future educator to help promote equity and equality in Philadelphia’s educational system. In her recommendation letters, Alexcia is described as smart, inquisitive, conscientious, creative, kind, generous, passionate, strong and gracious. As her recommenders stated “A strong case can be made for her combined academic, artistic, and leadership qualities that have prepared her well for professional excellence in the field of early childhood education” and “Alexcia is wholly deserving” of this scholarship.

Christina Photiades, Saint Joseph’s University – BA in English and Secondary Education, Minor in Spanish – Class of 2020
Christina has a GPA of 3.77. She is a campus leader, serving as a Head Resident Assistant and the Treasurer of the Tau Omega Chapter of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. She is also a student worker in the Writing Center. Christina has spent multiple semesters observing and assisting in classrooms at St. Martin of Tours School and Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School. Her essay describes how she knew as a junior in high school that she wanted to become a teacher, yet she had never expected to find herself at an inner city all boys’ school; however, that experience has changed her entire view on education. At the school, she was partnered with a teacher who was passionate and loved his job, which not only solidified her career decision but also sparked her interest in urban education and her desire to close the achievement gap that exists between minoritized groups. She aspires to provide her students with an outlook on education and academics that is more than just getting the grade and to create a positive environment where learning is encouraged and where students want to come to school. Christina’s recommenders stated that her passion for education is contagious, that she is a kind, good natured person full of positivity, and that she is a charismatic future teacher and advocate for educating the underserved who is well on her way to a successful career.

Staci Zsilavecz, Gwynedd Mercy University – Pursuing MS and Teacher Certification in Elementary Education (Pre-K-4) – Class of 2020
Staci currently has a GPA of 4.0. She is a 2016 magna cum laude graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Applied Developmental Psychology, followed by completion of a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University in May 2018 with a GPA of 3.9. During her undergraduate studies, Staci had the opportunity to study abroad at the University of Malaga in Spain, she was a Research Assistant and Community -Based Action Researcher in the School of Education, a Literacy Tutor, and a Supervisor at the Liberty Extended Day Program. She completed an internship in School Psychology with the Friendship Academy at the Watson Institute and spent six summers as the Program Coordinator for a City of Bethlehem Bureau of Parks and Recreation summer camp program. For the past three years, Staci has worked full-time as the Community School Coordinator for Cheston Elementary School in Allentown, where she coordinates services for over 500 low income students and their families. In her essay, Staci not only discussed her lifelong love of books but also disclosed her personal struggles with reading comprehension as a child, which she overcame with the help of her teachers and school reading specialist. She went on to excel in middle and high school, yet she then found herself once again struggling in college, and although she started off wanting to pursue dentistry, she eventually discovered that her passion is teaching.  Staci was enthusiastically recommended and praised for the impact she has had at Cheston School. Her recommenders provided a long list of her various accomplishments and made it clear that Staci is going to be an outstanding educator.