For the third consecutive year, two PawSox Scholars-once again middle schoolers from Pawtucket and Central Falls-will receive college scholarships of $10,000 each, funded by the PawSox Foundation. The scholarships will be paid directly to the colleges of their choice for tuition and books upon their graduation from high school, provided they continue to excel in scholarship and citizenship.
This year's recipients, both 8th graders, are Emily Lopes, from Pawtucket's Samuel Slater Jr. High School, and Liliana Gonzalez, from Central Falls' Calcutt Middle School. They were selected from applications administered by the two respective school systems and PawSox officials.
The PawSox introduced the program two years ago when they named Charlisa Kollie of Pawtucket and Ethan Hoke of Central Falls as their first recipients. Last year, Jeremy Ortega, from Pawtucket's Joseph Jenks Middle School, and Jose Juarez Aguilar, from Central Falls' Calcutt Middle School were the winners.
"Our PawSox Scholars program helps fund the dream of attending college," said Club President Dr. Charles A. Steinberg. "By awarding the scholarships to middle schoolers, we seek to fortify the resolve of young children to believe in their dreams, to avoid the dangerous temptations of adolescent life, and to understand that education is the equalizer."
Steinberg and PawSox Chairman Larry Lucchino were instrumental in creating similar programs in San Diego and Boston. The Red Sox version won Major League Baseball's first-ever "Commissioners Award for Philanthropic Excellence."
"From our Padres Scholars program in San Diego to our Red Sox Scholars program in Boston, we have been blessed to see children blossom into inspiring adults for 23 years," Steinberg said. "Now here in Rhode Island, we are enjoying the selection and development of even more wonderful students who are envisioning their dreams--and the path to make those dreams come true."
The Pawtucket and Central Falls school systems invited eighth graders to submit applications, including essays. Emily Lopes' essay praised Malala Yousafzai, while Liliana Gonzalez expressed her admiration for Michelle Obama.
"Our students are some of the best and brightest in the world," said Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien. "Their talent, passion, creativity and strong sense of community never cease to amaze me. The PawSox scholars program will ensure that our students' education continues. This effort by the PawSox has real meaning to our children, their families and their teachers, and I thank them."
"It is an honor for our school to have Emily Lopes represent us," said Mrs. Laura Lutz, Principal of Slater Jr. High School. "This award will give Emily the vision and confidence of pursuing a college career."
"The city of Central Falls is so grateful to the PawSox for including our children in this landmark program," said Central Falls Mayor James Diossa. "This scholarship program reminds all of our families that no matter what challenges they may face, they have friends who believe in their future."
"I'm grateful for the chance to provide the Calcutt Middle Shool students the opportunity to express themselves to the public in essays," said Timothy Milisauskas, Principal of Calcutt Middle School. "The joy the students all shared for one another when I announced Liliana as the winner let me see the true spirit of teamwork and camaraderie that drives Calcutt Middle School, Central Falls School District, and the PawSox."
"We thank Mayor Grebien and Mayor Diossa, as well as their School Boards, Superintendents, Principals, and teachers for their guidance, wisdom, and collaboration," Steinberg added. "We hope that we can expand our program to include even more students in our region."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.