The Children’s Educational Opportunity Foundation of Connecticut (CEO) initiated the annual Founder's Fellows during the 2021-22 school year for eighth-grade CEO scholars to recognize the achievements of top students and motivate them to continue on a path of academic excellence, educational opportunity, and meaningful service to others. The fellowship is in honor of Dr. Lewis M. Andrews, an accomplished academic, author, founder of CEO and now President and Chair of the Board.
This year, thirty-three eighth grade CEO scholars were nominated by their school principals and teachers. From this competitive group of students, the Founder's Fellows Committee selected seven finalists to receive fellowship awards that are applied directly toward tuition and are in addition to their CEO scholarships.
All students were considered for:
We are proud to introduce our 2022-23 Founder's Fellows!
“Enrique is the top student in his class academically,” said Sr. Diane Mastroianni, principal, All Saints Catholic Academy. “He has great academic promise.” She added that Enrique “is an incredibly engaged and responsible student, an active listener, and is a great conversationalist. He is always willing to help and is very respected among his teachers and his peers.”
“My CEO Scholarship reduced the tuition for my family, which allowed me to attend All Saints Academy for 8 years and gain a strong academic and religious foundation,” said Enrique. “It motivated me to keep working hard in school and plan for the future.” His goals include cooking professionally, managing a restaurant, and saving enough to start his own restaurant one day. Enrique also “hopes to help and motivate other students to work harder in their education.” His advice to them “is to never give up and to learn from failure."
“Sophia is a hardworking student who is particularly gifted in fine arts, specifically drawing,” said Karl Simon, Upper School Principal, Christian Heritage School. “What stands out most about Sophia is the subtle way she includes others and shows every day acts of kindness to her peers, particularly those that may feel excluded. She does so without drawing attention to herself. In this way, she demonstrates leadership and is a role model for her peers.”
“With the help of the CEO scholarship,” says Sophia, “I have been able to attend a private school and to have the best education possible.” She adds, “My parents are immigrants that came to this country with many dreams for the future. They work very hard to provide for me and my sisters. My mother is a social worker and my father is a pastor and chaplain. They do not earn much, but they help many people.”
Sophia, who is bilingual in Spanish, would like to follow a path similar to her parents in order to help others, possibly as a Social Worker, Art Therapist, or School Counselor. “I would love to contribute to the CEO Foundation financially, adds Sophia, “and also as a mentor to Latino and minority children.”
“Mikah holds her own in the classroom and really enjoys the interaction with her peers,” said Barbara Logsdail, principal, St. Theresa School. “She has innate leadership abilities which draws many of her classmates to her for friendship and direction. While Mikah is often not able to join in with the extracurricular activities because of her family’s duties, she engages in everything possible.”
“I have the best friends and teachers ever,” said Mikah, “and St. Theresa has been a school ‘Home’ to me. Even during the past two years of the pandemic, I was able to get an awesome education and learn in person. It made the pandemic less scary because I could see my teachers and friends.”
Mikah, who is interested in pursuing a career in design, plans to continue learning different languages and traveling to different places during high school and college to learn where and how she can help those in need. “My Mom always says, you may have a little, but someone has nothing,” recounts Mikah. “When I finish college, I will donate money to CEO like others did for me to get a great education. I would like to start a scholarship in my name as well.”
“Adonis carries on a family legacy as a hard-working, very focused student who does his best but always strives to do better,” said Tricia Tucker, principal, Fairfield County Seventh-day Adventist School. “He is kind, caring and very focused on his faith. He has established himself as a leader and is highly respected in our school.”
“Education is one of the most important things in my life,” said Adonis. “Without a good education, it is not easy to get a good job and earn enough to live. My CEO Scholarship, which helps me prepare for my future, has been made available to me because of the financial hardship that my family and I face on a daily basis. It is very difficult for my mother to earn enough money as a single mother of 6 children, while giving all of her children, including myself, the Christian education we need.”
After he graduates from Fairfield County SDA School, Adonis will attend Kolbe Cathedral High School and plans to go to college and eventually law school. He would also like to help motivate future students and CEO scholars to achieve their own personal goals by sharing his experiences as well as providing advice and support.
“Schneur is very well respected amongst his peers and is always happy to use his popularity to uplift those around him,” said Rabbi Baruch Kaplan, principal, Southern Connecticut Hebrew Academy Day School. “In a small school such as ours, each student plays a large role in the school community, and we are very pleased to have Schneur as one of our top students.”
“Because of my CEO Scholarship, I was able to attend Southern Connecticut Hebrew Academy,” explains Schneur, “and receive a solid educational foundation in many areas, which has prepared me for future learning opportunities. I plan on pursuing a career in the field of business and paying it forward by helping others as I have been helped.”
“Lucas has a heart of gold,” says Sr. Diane Mastroianni, principal, All Saints Catholic Academy. “He is known by everyone and makes it a point to know everyone in school.” In the three years that Sr. Diane has known Lucas, she has “seen great growth in him both academically and as a person.” She is very proud of him and says that “Lucas will help in any way he can in any situation. He engages in conversation and has demonstrated greater leadership potential in three years.”
Lucas, who has been a student at All Saints Catholic Academy since Kindergarten, when it was St. Francis and St. Rose School, has excelled in the small school learning environment because, he says, “it helps me stay focused on my work. I always get good grades—either high honors or honors.” Lucas is looking forward to a future with many possibilities, such as becoming an information technology technician or pursing a military career. He is currently considering options for high school, including local technical schools and Notre Dame High School, a college preparatory school.
“I'm so grateful to be in a school like All Saints,” said Lucas. “The CEO Foundation has helped me stay in a school that has become a family; it's a place where everyone encourages me to do better in life."
“It has been a joy to watch Jaden over the past two years,” says Thomas Menner, principal, St. Timothy Middle School, “to see him continue on his journey to become the productive and generous man I know he will be. At the heart of everything, though,” he adds, “is Jaden's kindness and desire to help others. He selflessly offers his time to assist others—classmates and teachers—and help with our community service projects and the After Care Program at our school.”
Jaden is a very active member of the St. Timothy community. In addition to helping others and volunteering, he participates in many school activities throughout the year and is competitive athlete who is an integral part of the cross country, basketball, and baseball teams.
He is quick to acknowledge the value of a good education, the impact that his CEO scholarship has had on his academic success, and how his experiences at a private school are preparing him for a successful future. Jaden readily shares his plans, “I want to get into a good college, continue to play sports, and receive a degree in mechanical engineering.”