Financial Aid Attracts Impressive Students from Many Backgrounds
Some of the brightest lights at Trinity—students who not only achieve great heights academically, but also make incredible contributions to the campus, Hartford, and the world—would not be here without financial aid. Following are a few stories of just such individuals, a small representation of the 875 scholarship students who demonstrate every day why they are so worthy of support from the College and the alumni who invest in their opportunities.
Liz Agresta '11: Long Walk Societies Scholar
Liz Agresta’s father died of cancer when she was just 12 years old. Left behind with her were a younger sister and a mom trying to make ends meet by working in a dental office in their tiny central New York town of Broadalbin.
She recalls the day she was accepted at Trinity and learned that she would receive financial aid. “I started doing cartwheels in the living room,” she says, laughing.
Now preparing to graduate, Agresta can hardly believe that her four years at Trinity are almost over. She is a senior editor on the Tripod, the student newspaper, where she has written arts-related stories and editorials since she was a first-year student. She also serves as one of the head tutors at the College’s Writing Center, helping her fellow students increase their own comfort level with the written word. A music minor, she is a Trinity Chapel Singer and takes voice lessons.
In spite of, or perhaps because of, her heavy activity schedule, Agresta expects to graduate with a 3.5 GPA. As a Long Walk Societies Scholar, Agresta knows that she could never have enjoyed the “amazing experience” of a Trinity education without the generosity of alumni who contribute to the endowed scholarship fund. “I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I will always be,” she concludes. “It’s because of the donors who helped ease my family’s burdens that I received this fantastic start on life.”
Margaret Nolan '13: Posse Scholar
Growing up in Chicago, Margaret Nolan might not have set her sights on Trinity if she hadn’t been nominated by her high school English teacher for a Posse scholarship. The program is focused on inner-city kids with leadership potential.
Nolan’s world has widened considerably at Trinity. She traveled to Uruguay on an alternative spring break as part of a volunteer crew building very simple houses for families in shanty towns. This past spring, she was in New Orleans with other students on a post-Katrina mission that involved planting tall wetland grasses in swamps to prevent erosion. During her junior year, she will study at Curtin University in Australia first semester, and second semester in an International Honors Program, "Cities in the 21st Century: People, Planning, and Politics," which will take her to New Delhi, India; Dakar, Senegal; and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“It is so important for Trinity to have more students from an urban environment to broaden the horizons of all students,” Nolan said. “One of the reasons I chose Trinity was because of its commitment to reach into the city of Hartford and delve into the rich culture that lies just beyond the campus borders.”
Nolan says she is thankful for donors who help fund Posse and other financial aid programs and she volunteers when she can as a student caller for the Trinity Fund. “I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to the donors who have made this possible for me,” she said. “These doors would never have opened to me without financial aid.”
Alinafe Tengatenga '13: International Student
Alinafe (Nafe) Tengatenga was born and raised in Malawi, in sub-Saharan Africa. Her father, an Anglican bishop, and mother, a cleric currently working as an accountant, had three children of their own, including her brother Cecil, a senior at Trinity. But they also adopted five other children—nieces and nephews whose parents and littlest brother died of AIDS. Her father holds a Ph.D. and her mother an M.A. degree, so college was always a foregone conclusion for Tengatenga and her siblings. Tengatenga says that Trinity exceeded her expectations from day one, a day she remembers well. “It was a perfect New England day,” she recalls. She fell in love with the campus and calls it “a perfect window to the world.”
She has jumped headlong into extracurricular activities at Trinity. In addition to serving as a resident assistant, she has also helped lead an effort to raise funds for Haiti earthquake victims and co-coordinated an annual community service program called Do It Day. She is a volunteer manager at Cinestudio, the non-profit theater on campus. She also joined Trinity’s track team and runs the 200- and 400-meter events. “I have so many options—and that, more than anything, defines Trinity for me,” she says.
Tengatenga is thankful for the need-based aid that covers all of her expenses at Trinity. “Had it not been for generous donors, I would not be here,” she says. “Someday, I will give back to help a deserving person who will be lucky to have the opportunities that I have had. “The legacy will continue.”
Brian Castelluccio '12: Scholar-Athlete and Presidential Scholar
Majoring in the constantly evolving field of neuroscience is not for the academically faint-hearted, but Trinity junior Brian Castelluccio is up to the task. He enjoys his coursework and research at the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center in Hartford. With his 4.0 average, the Dean’s Scholar epitomizes the ideal scholar-athlete. He was awarded one of Trinity’s merit-based Presidential Scholarships, covering full tuition costs at the College.
As seriously as he takes his academic pursuits, Castelluccio is equally committed to the swim team. He and his teammates practice 18 hours a week during the season, which runs from November 1 through March 1. He competes in the backstroke events. He also guides other athletes by serving on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and he participates in Swim Across America, an organization dedicated to raising awareness for cancer research, prevention, and treatment through open water and pool events.
Castelluccio is the oldest of three children. Knowing there were two other siblings in the family to educate, the Presidential Scholarship he received was a major factor in Castelluccio’s decision to attend Trinity. “I wouldn’t be here without the donors who made this financial aid possible,” he said. “But it’s also the donors who make all of the incredible opportunities and resources available to us at the undergraduate level. That’s what makes Trinity really stand out among its peers.”
Carlos Velazquez '14: Dewey Scholar and Merin Hartford Scholar
Carlos Velazquez may be setting a record for “most community involvement” as a first-year student. He has been chosen as an associate member of the national State Farm Advisory Board, which carries a $3,000 scholarship. The board oversees a $5-million-per-year State Farm initiative that awards grants to student-led service-learning projects. He also works as an intern in Trinity’s Office of Campus Life and will become a resident assistant next year. He is also involved with the Boys & Girls Club of Hartford, which named him Youth of the Year in 2010.
Financial aid and work-study cover 98 percent of Velazquez’s expenses for tuition, room and board, books, and a laptop. As a member of PRIDE and the College’s Men of Color Alliance, groups that facilitate discussions about racial and ethnic issues on campus, he appreciates the power of scholarships in building diversity and cross-cultural understanding.
Velazquez is the oldest of four children and the first in his family to attend college, but he is determined that he won’t be the last. He urges his siblings to work hard so that one day they too will earn scholarships. “Money shouldn’t be the thing that holds a young person back from getting an education,” he said. “Everything I’ve gotten has been through donors to the College, especially the Dewey and Merin families,” he said. “It is so wonderful to have sponsors who want you to succeed.” He said he hopes to be able to do the same thing someday. “What can be more meaningful than providing a higher education and building an educated generation?” he asked. “It’s an expression of faith that the student will do good things, help others, and change the world.”
Read some alumni success stories that started with a scholarship.