Shirley Wight Keeney Voluntarism Scholarship Award Recipients
Submitted by Dana Felmet
The Junior League of Summit (JLS) proudly names Grace Paskalides (Chatham HS), Amanda Radick, Rachel Stuart, and Carly Zurla (Governor Livingston HS) as recipients of our annual Shirley Wight Keeney Voluntarism Scholarships. As in recent years, the JLS also offered a Continuing Education Scholarship, which was awarded to Elizabeth Chern.
“The League is always impressed with the caliber of our scholarship applicants, and this year is no exception. The achievements and contributions of these women is an inspiration to us all, and we look forward to seeing what they accomplish as they continue their education,” said Junior League President, Erika Melchiorre.
Grace Paskalides of Chatham High School will be attending the University of South Carolina. Grace was introduced to volunteerism through her church. She was required to fulfill a certain amount of hours a year to be part of the youth group. After finishing her hours she found herself continuously going back to the director to ask for more projects. What started as a requirement became a passion. She asked her youth group director for more responsibility. She became the leader and organizer of the church’s weekly food bank runs. For nine months, each week she found 10 other people in her church community and took them to the food bank with her four hours. She also co-founded a nonprofit for children battling cancer called Ninetynineredballoons. Through fundraising and volunteers, she is committed to raising spirits of children and help them feel like a normal kid. It is similar to that of a big brother/big sister program in that she helps match a child battling cancer with an older healthy child or adult. It is meant to provide companionship and mentoring for the child with cancer and their siblings. At its peak, Ninetynineredballoons had 80 mentors but she hopes for a larger future. While volunteering is important to her, she also worked three jobs. As a weekly babysitter, tutor and clerk at Hickory Tree Pizza. She tried to be as active in her school as she was outside of it, being a member of 8 clubs. Her favorites being Make A Wish club (in which they donate all of their fundraising to Make A Wish New Jersey, she was secretary of this club), Canavan Awareness Project (they raise awareness and funding for Canavan disease, a brain disease that causes people to develop differently; 98% of people born with Canavan do not live past the age of 15) and SADD/TATU (stands for Students Against Destructive Decisions and Teens Against Tobacco Use). Grace Paskalides is excited to keep volunteering and working hard during her next four years at the University of South Carolina.
Amanda Radick of Governor Livingston HS will be attending University of Delaware School of Nursing in the fall. Amanda has been an active volunteer in the community starting in kindergarten as a Mountainside Girl Scout where she earned both the Bronze and Silver awards. While in high school, Amanda volunteered several hundred hours with the musical theatre program at Deerfield School in Mountainside helping the actors learn lines, choreography and lyrics. She also managed the backstage crew and worked many weekends painting sets. In addition, Amanda managed multiple varsity teams at Governor Livingston and was the president of the Photo Club. She was also an active member of the GL Student Auxiliary Service Club throughout high school and served in a board position as a Junior and Senior. Since 8th grade, Amanda has worked as a teacher assistant at her religious school and works each summer as a camp counselor. She also volunteers in the Child Life program at St. Barnabas Medical Center. Amanda plans on continuing to give back to the community as an active volunteer in college and beyond.
Rachel Stuart of Governor Livingston High School will be attending Tulane University in the fall. Rachel has volunteered for Sage Eldercare Meals-On-Wheels since she was very little with her mom. As she got older she began looking for more opportunities to get involved by coaching special Olympics track and field and also continuing her work with Meals-On-Wheels. She was also very involved in her high school through her involvement in the Red Cross Club and Interact, which are both community outreach organizations that allow her to get involved more in her community. She was also Future Business Leaders of America president and involved in student council throughout high school. When she attends Tulane in the fall she hopes to get involved in the New Orleans culture by volunteering with the community and hopefully getting an internship at a non-profit.
Carly Zurla of Governor Livingston High School will be attending the University of Rhode Island. Carly has always been passionate about helping others in her community and in the surrounding areas of New Jersey. When she was 15 years old, she joined the Mountainside Lords Youth Group. As a part of this group, she volunteered her time by sleeping outside every October to raise money for the homeless in Irvington, New Jersey. Along with raising money for the homeless, she would make sandwiches, run car washes, and host candy drives. Carly has also been a part of the Mountainside Rescue Squad where she has given back over 250 hours of service to her community. She was a member of the Cadet Program where she was trained in CPR and administering first aid. Her weekly 4 hour shift included going out on calls, riding in the ambulance, supporting other EMTs and paramedics, and performing rig checks. She also participated in training programs, fundraising and blood drives. Carly has been a member of the Link Crew Leadership Club at Governor Livingston High School. For this club, she is a positive role model for the incoming freshmen and underclassmen. She advises the underclassmen about the importance of their academics and time management skills. She facilitated events such as speaking with all freshman health classes about drug and alcohol prevention and guiding parents through the adjustment of high school for their children. In high school, Carly has taken many honors and AP courses while being the captain of the JV Volleyball team for 2 years and the captain of the JV tennis team. In addition to her community service and academic excellence, Carly has worked at Kent Place Camp as a counselor for the past two summers, and will be the head counselor this summer. During her senior year she was a caregiver for a family of three after school. Carly will pursue nursing as her career at the University of Rhode Island and hopes to minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. She plans on staying active on campus by joining many academic and volunteer clubs.
Elizabeth Chern will be entering the New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) class of 2023. Some organizations that Elizabeth has been involved with include the St. Peter’s Hospital, New Brunswick Children’s Specialized Hospital, and the Student Family Health Care Center (SFHCC) clinic associated with NJMS. Elizabeth has been a Sunday school teacher, church group co-leader, and a homeless outreach coordinator at her church for the past four years. It’s Elizabeth’s goal as a physician to provide care to individuals who may otherwise fall through the cracks. She plans to continue her involvement at NJMS’ SFHCC clinic and at her church. Her future plans include joining the Green Club (which provides freshly grown produce to Newark residents) and joining tutoring programs for Newark students.
The Shirley Wight Keeney Voluntarism Scholarships are awarded annually by the Junior League of Summit to local graduating seniors. The Continuing Education Scholarship award is given to an adult woman who has demonstrated a commitment to volunteerism in her community and is pursuing additional education or certification. The scholarships’ namesake, Shirley Wight Keeney, was a beloved member of the Junior League of Summit and the Summit community. As an active volunteer, Ms. Keeney truly demonstrated the League’s Mission of promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through effective action and leadership.
The Junior League of Summit is a nonprofit, charitable, and educational organization of women who are committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. For more information about the Junior League of Summit or to inquire about becoming a member, please visit the website at jlsummit.org or contact the office at 908-273-7349.