Western at Waterbury : The President-to-President Scholarship

President-to-President Scholarship Recipient Highlights

Since 2003, WCSU and Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC)  have co-sponsored the President-to-President scholarship, which is awarded annually to one NVCC graduate who attends WCSU full-time and covers two academic years.  You can find out how to apply for the President-to-President Scholarship here.

Below are some highlights of students who have been awarded this scholarship in years past:

Christine R. Troia

Troia, a Southbury native who now resides in Oxford, is the recipient of the Western Connecticut State University President to President Scholarship.

Ms. Troia has continued her educational journey along many paths since she left Western Connecticut State University to marry and start a family in 1987. She will resume her pursuit of a bachelor’s degree this fall.

She will receive an associate degree in business management from Naugatuck Valley Community College in August and was nominated for the scholarship by NVCC President Daisy Cocco DeFilippis.

The award is given annually to pay full tuition costs for a graduate of NVCC to pursue undergraduate studies at Western.

It recognizes Ms. Troia’s achievements in maintaining a grade point average of 3.95 at NVCC over the past two years.

Her goal at Western is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a
concentration in supervisory management.

“I am proud to have been selected as the recipient of this prestigious award,” Ms. Troia remarked. “When’ I received the notification, I was filled with excitement and felt like shouting from the rooftops.

“I now have the ability to complete my undergraduate studies in business administration at a university that I have already called home.”

NVCC Assistant Professor of Management RobynJay Bage noted in her recommendation letter that Ms. Troia exemplifies both superior academic performance and personal leadership skills, evidenced by her contribution~ as president of the Alpha Beta Gamma international business honor society at the community college.

Ms. Troia, the mother of two adult children with her husband, Dan, has gained experience in the workplace as a bookkeeper, office manager, bank teller and accounting clerk.
In recent years, she has served as business manager and director of faith formation at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Oxford and has earned graduate certificates for continuing education’ courses in faith formation, evangelization and pastoral ministries.

She views her studies in business management at NVCC and Western as preparation for future pursuit of a master’s degree in parish administration.

Ms. Troia’s extensive volunteer work includes her service at St. Thomas Church as a member of the parish council and chair of the church’s Finance Council and Strategic Planning Committee.

She has also served as youth minister and organizer for parish mission trips to Group Workcamps sites in New York and Pennsylvania; facilitator for child abuse prevention programs of the Archdiocese of Hartford; and volunteer for area shelters, food banks and blood donation programs.

At NVCC, she served as secretary of the Student Government Association and as campus representative for the Newman Club.

Lisa Cantoni

    Lisa Cantoni has not taken  the typical or easy road to begin studies this fall for a bachelor’s degree in English at Western but the lessons she has learned along the way have only strengthened her will to succeed in her career and her life.

The New Britain resident’s remarkable road back from depression and an obsessive compulsive disorder that interrupted her high school education five years ago received recognition with her recent selection as the 2007 recipient of the President-to-President Scholarship awarded jointly by Western and Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC) in Waterbury. The annual grant pays full tuition costs for an exemplary NVCC associate’s degree graduate to complete the final two years of studies to earn a bachelor’s degree at Western.

“Ms. Cantoni’s academic record and personal characteristics are indeed impressive, and we are pleased to accept her for this award,” Western President James W. Schmotter wrote to NVCC President Richard Sanders. “The academic performance of former President-to-President award winners has been outstanding, and I have little doubt that Ms. Cantoni will continue this
record of accomplishment.”

Cantoni finished her associate’s degree studies with a near-perfect grade point average of 3.98, and received the NVCC 2007 Anna-Margaret Fabisiak Distinguished Student Award recognizing outstanding academic and extracurricular achievements. A member of the Phi Theata Kappa honor society, she was a member of the NVCC Human Services Club and served as president of the Ambassador Club, an organization that promotes the community college to students in the greater Waterbury area.

She has balanced her studies with a part time job as a hotel guest service representative and active participation in a wide range of community service activities. She has volunteered as a tutor and group study leader for middle and high school students, a coaching assistant for a Prospect youth softball team, and a peer counselor and instructor in critical thinking skills at correctional facilities in western Connecticut.

Cantoni’s accomplishments are all the more impressive in view of her difficult but ultimately successful struggle to cope with trichotillomania, a disorder marked by the compulsive desire to pull out one’s hair. Cantoni withdrew from Holy Cross High School in Waterbury just two months before her scheduled graduation in 2002. She recalled how her family and friends helped her to acknowledge her condition and accept professional counseling to learn how to cope with it, enabling her to earn her high school diploma in 2003 and enroll in fall 2004 at NVCC. “I would not change the things I went through; the memories I have of my challenges and difficulties have given me strength and courage to fight back, do my best, and be happy doing it,” Cantoni said. “I want to work hard in school and do well. I think the drive to want to be there is truly essential. The same applies to deciding a future career – a person will work harder and be happier if she is in a career that she is building toward.”

Cantoni’s love of books and the literary creative process has inspired her goal to become an editor at a publishing house, with a particular interest in children’s literature. She plans to major in English with a concentration in literature, and is considering a second concentration in writing to deepen her understanding and appreciation for creation of original literary works.

NVCC Assistant Professor of Communication Lisa Kaufman, Cantoni’s faculty adviser, noted in her recommendation letter for the award that her former student displayed an uncommon passion for reading and writing and talent for self-expression in her compositions.

“I would consider her truly gifted in her writing and speaking abilities,” Kaufman said.

NVCC Associate Professor of English Dr. Patricia Pallis expressed admiration for Cantoni’s academic record and volunteer service as she has learned to cope with adversity, “I know she has come a distance to get where she is,” Pallis wrote. “These personal struggles help to define who she is, and certainly are part of her determination to succeed. Her academic work and personal accomplishments attest to her diligence and growth as an individual.”

While Cantoni emphasized she can offer no simple prescription to students who must overcome their own personal crises, she added, “I believe it is very important to talk to someone you can trust because you need to acknowledge that something isn’t right, and that you want to help yourself. It is so easy today to lose balance and let stress overwhelm you.

“You have to take care of yourself before you can be devoted to something else,” she affirmed. “I got back on track and was able to return to school only after I realized that I couldn’t do it all on my own, and that I did need help. It all comes down to, ‘Know thyself.’ I really think that this is a key to personal happiness.”


Juanita Curtis

    Setting goals is one thing – reaching them is quite another. And Juanita Curtis does both with grace and case.

Curtis was chosen as this year’s recipient of the President-to-President Scholarship
awarded jointly by Western and Naugatuck Valley Community College in W’aterburv. The annual grant pays full tuition costs for an exemplary associate’s, degree graduate at NVCC to complete the final two year, of studies and earn a bachelor’s degree at Western.

A mother of four, Curtis lives in Waterbury with her husband, the Rev., Ricky Curtis. She earned her associate degree in liberal arts from NVCC, one of many goals. Another recent goal for Curtis was overcoming her struggle with obesity. After tipping the scales at 300 pounds, Curtis is now at a comfortable weight and getting her bachelor’s degree is her primary focus.

Curtis, who maintained a 3.9 GPA at NVCC while raising her four school age children and working the midnight shift at a local healthcare facility, will be studying communications in the fall ‘ I liked everything about Western” said Cutis. “The courses offer flexibility and the professors and advisers I’ve met with have been wonderful.”

Curtis applied for the scholarship last year and said she had a positive vibe from the beginning of the process “I knew that Western had something for me and I knew I would excel here,” Curtis said. “For so long. I concentrated on my family and marriage and putting my dreams on the back burner, Then you hit a certain age and you have to do what’s screaming inside of you.”

Nervous and excited. Curtis is looking forward to beginning classes and thinks she’ll just ease into the workload. “It’s like the weight loss, once I set my mind to something, usually do it,” said Curtis, “And I knew this was meant to be.”