The recipients of the 2015 award, Ashley Castro, Daniel Corridan, Ashim Khadka, Dominik Makocki, Sophy Martorell, Alexa Pawlikowski, Cindy Pietrakowski, Alexandra Schlapp, Nicole Talamo, Lauren Urbano, Mary Yanez and Tina Zheng, were feted at a luncheon at Maspeth Town Hall
According to Kiwanis Club President Michelle Masone, this year $18,000 was awarded to the scholarship recipients – or $1,500 to each student.
Masone said the club received interest from a number of area schools, making it difficult to select just 12 recipients. Winners were selected on the basis of academic merit and a personal statement from each student.
Kenneth Rudzewick, president of Maspeth Federal Savings and past president of the club, shared a story about a fighter pilot and a life-saving parachute in his remarks to the students.
“Everyone in life needs someone to pack their parachute,” he said. “We need a mentor, someone who will lead us along the way.
“Who’s parachute will you pack?” he continued. “After you establish yourself in life you have to remember to give back. Giving back is the whole essence of what we do on earth.”
Dominik Makocki, a scholarship recipient from Christ the King High School, is attending the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College. He plans to double major in chemistry and economics to prepare for a career as an anesthesiologist.
“Not a lot of people think about the philanthropic part of success,” Makocki said. “Unfortunately, not a lot of people who are successful financially go on to be successful in terms of giving back.”
Since the scholarship’s creation by her grandfather, a founding member of the Maspeth Kiwanis, in the mid 1950’s, Masone said about $600,000 in scholarship money has been awarded by the club.
For Masone, the scholarships are a way to continue the legacy and values of the Kiwanis Club.
“I hope that the recipients can see that giving back to the community is important and how everyone in life has been helped by someone else,” she said.
A scholarship recipient from Archbishop Malloy High School, Lauren Urbano is attending St. John's University to study accounting.
“I had a really great experience and I am really honored,” said Urbano. “I feel like Kiwanis gave me a greater sense of giving back and I hope to do something like that.”