CCF Scholarship Spotlights

The Foundation awards scholarships to students of Italian heritage who can demonstrate financial need and have shown success in their studies and involvement with their communities.

Graduating from school is an achievement that has a profound impact on a student’s life and the lives of their families. We ensure that Italian American students of great promise have the financial support they need to graduate through our CCF Scholarship Program. Read on below for the stories of some of our scholars.

CCF Scholarship Spotlights Archive

Scholarship Spotlight: Gabriella Scala

Staten Island native and CCF YAA member, Gabriella Scala, graduated from the University of Connecticut with her bachelor’s degree and is currently working on her doctorate with thoughtful goals in mind. From a young age, Gabriella spent her free time giving back to her community and caring for others. In 2009, she made her local news for organizing a lemonade stand to raise money for a service dog for her autistic neighbor. In high school, Gabriella volunteered at a local nursing home and spent quality time talking to and accompanying people who didn’t have family. After school, he also volunteered at an elementary school helping non-native English speakers learn English for the first time and said the immense reward of her students’ progress on reading and writing reminded her of what her family must have gone through when they immigrated to the United States.


Gabriella’s father immigrated from Italy with his parents and seven siblings at a very young age without knowing a bit of English. He has worked his entire life, made an emphasis on having a strong work ethic, and taught Gabriella that she can achieve whatever she puts her mind to. Her Nonno (Gabriella’s Father’s Father) passed away a short amount of time after settling in America. Gabriella’s Nonna was left to raise her eight children in a new country without knowing any of the native language. Determined to make a better life for her children, she persevered and is Gabriella’s inspiration daily. She lovingly referred to Gabriella as, “my doctor,” and inspired Gabriella to learn Italian and to apply for dual citizenship and hopes one day to explore Nocera Inferiore, the roots of her family.
 
Before she was born, Gabriella’s family tragically lost her brother at a young age due to a rare form of cancer. Along with her passion for helping others, this tragedy inspired her desired career path. From a young age, Gabriella would ask her parents about her brother, his care, his cancer, and his treatment and was inspired by his story to help others.
 
Gabriella will graduate May 2022 from University of Connecticut as a Doctor of Pharmacy with plans to become a clinical oncology pharmacist. During her program rotations, Gabriella completed two rounds of oncology rotations, loved how rewarding it was, and hopes to get a residency program doing it. As a clinical oncology pharmacist, Gabriella will help families like her own treat rare forms of cancer and hopefully overcome it. Between classes and studying, Gabriella is currently enjoying her time working as a pharmacy intern at CVS. With her internship opportunity, Gabriella has been able to administer vaccinations throughout the pandemic making a huge impact on the world as we know it lately.
 
Some people fear overcoming obstacles but Gabriella is pushed by them. Her favorite pastime is hiking. Her very first hike was in New Hampshire two years ago. Since then, Gabriella has completed one of the most dangerous hikes in the country: Angel’s Landing. Although scary and dangerous, it actually has pushed her to go on more hikes. Just as her father and Nonna taught her, the treacherous hikes she goes on reminds her to never give up. Just like in life, Gabriella feels that reaching the summit of a hike is worth every challenge she faced on the way up.

Scholarship Spotlight: Richard Jackowitz

By the time he was five, Richard Jackowitz had known he wanted to one day pursue a career in the medical field. As time went on, he grew a passion for animals and his dream of becoming a veterinarian came into fruition. After receiving a CCF scholarship, Richard began his freshman year atStaten Island’s St. Joseph’s By-The-Sea. He chose a pre-veterinary school track program and volunteered at a local veterinarian clinic after school. Over the summer, Richard also volunteered at Vacation Bible School at his elementary school. When he is not spending time with animals, Richard is playing on his high school’s golf and lacrosse teams, riding roller coasters, or spending time with his family His hard work and dedication has led him to maintain a position on the honor roll and receive the, “Most Improved Player,” award on his golf team.

Like many of us, Richard is inspired by community. His Italian heritage taught him the meaning of support and tradition. Richard grew up in the same house his mom grew up in and attends the same school she attended. The support of his family and the Italian culture of his hometown are what keeps him motivated and determined to repay the favor one day. This has created a sense of pride for him which, in turn, infuses a pride in everything he does. As a veterinarian, he hopes one day to give back to his Italian community in the way that he was lucky enough to experience.

Scholarship Spotlight: Gianpiero Arnone

When the first signs of COVID-19 hit the world in early 2020 and lockdowns began, people sang to each other from their balconies, banged pots and pans together to show support for modern day superheroes, and came together to support one another. CCF Scholar and St. John the Baptist student, Gianpiero Arnone, was inspired by the generosity of others during this time and wanted to help make a change in his community. During the Spring of 2020 and the first major worldly surge of COVID-19, Gianpiero heard that the food pantry at his church was extremely low on food. In an effort to help, Gianpiero and his sister handed out flyers and organized a food drive in his neighborhood asking his neighbors, family, friends, and others to donate food for those in need of it. With the help of lots of peanut butter sandwiches, they completely fulfilled the need of the panty when its demand was at an all time high.

Even before the pandemic began, Gianpiero spent his free time helping others. On weekends, he volunteers his time to mix both of his passions: basketball and helping people. Gianpiero’s local YMCA has a basketball program where students are paired with fellow students with disabilities and they play basketball together. Every Sunday for seven weeks, Gianpiero is paired with a different buddy who he plays basketball with, partakes in a variety of activities, and together work on maintaining a positive attitude.
 
Like many students, Gianpiero started his freshman year at St. John the Baptist in person and switched to a hybrid model. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, he was able to maintain an impressively high GPA and is taking all of AP and honors classes. He even ended the year with Magna Cum Laude Honors. He plans to pursue a degree in sports management and follow his dreams of playing basketball.

Scholarship Spotlight: Bree Parker

What do ballroom dancing, statistics, business, European studies, and performing arts have in common? To Bree Parker, CCF Scholarship recipient, these five things were her entire college career. Instead of trying to mesh her varied interests into one, she decided to experience them all. Bree graduated Spring 2021 from Cornell University with a Statistical Science major and three minors: European Studies, Performing Arts, and Business Administration. Although very different, these four areas of study have greatly shaped her into who she is today.

Bree’s passion for statistics led her to choose it as her major. Her statistics major gave her the resources she needs for day-to-day at her job, coding expertise, and quantitative skills while her European Studies minor kept her in touch with her heritage and took her to a specialization program in Italy summer of 2018. Here, she practiced her Italian by taking three language courses and taking cooking classes. Her performing arts minor has made her comfortable talking in front of people, speaking up, and writing scripts. Finally, her business minor gives her a great foundation to put everything together while being applicable to so many aspects of life.
 
Currently, Bree works at JP Morgan on the Special Credits Team under the Investments Banking Branch and attributes much of her success to her versatility. While most of her coworkers studied finance, Bree’s statistical science degree and her three minors give her an edge. She has a skillset in analyzing numbers, language, and communication skills unique to her studies.
 
Although Bree grew up tap dancing, once she hit 8th grade, she partook in African dancing and lyrical. She loved to dance, especially the way it helped her decompress, and learning about the history and culture that comes with it. When she began her time at Cornell, she was looking for a way to participate in extracurriculars, meet people, and get involved without it interfering with her studies or busy schedule. She joined the competitive ballroom dance team at her school and loved every second of it. Although it wasn’t coursework or a D1 sport, it was a lot of commitment. Not only did she meet people, but it was also a great way to unwind from her studies and connect with others. Throughout her time on the team, she learned about the influence ballroom dance has on Latin American and European Culture, and even did a project on dances specific to Italy. Her favorite part was the reward of connecting with her partner. Together, they would work to perfect their steps and get it right. The feeling of accomplishment that came with mastering a dance was the best part of it all.

Scholarship Spotlight: Maria Calise

CCF college scholarship recipient, Maria Calise, aspires to become an attorney for her own firm where she will exonerate people who have been wrongly accused.

“I am inspired by the past. I want to be able to make creative innovations and learning from the past will allow me to have greater knowledge. We can learn many things from the past, and I believe that it is important to use our inspiration to make change.”

CCF scholarship recipient, Maria Calise, began her education in Sheepshead Bay and Mill Basin, Brooklyn. It was here, surrounded by so many different cultures, that she was first inspired by diversity. Her upbringing inspired her to attend St. John’s University where she is majoring in Criminal Justice and minoring in Business Administration. Along with having plans to graduate early, Maria has also maintained an impressive swimming career for over fifteen years in which she has competed on a state and semi-national level. She also graduated in the top five percent of her high school class and maintained a 4.0 her first semester of college. The key to juggling it all, she says, is her planner. At the start of each week, she makes a detailed schedule of her days, putting aside specific time to get everything done.

Not only is Maria determined in her studies but she is also determined to make a change. Maria’s aspiration in life is to become an attorney for her own firm where she will exonerate people who have been wrongly accused. With the help of her business minor, Maria will one day be able to open her own law firm where she plans to make creative innovations to help people.
 
The biggest inspiration to Maria is her family. Her cousin, Valerie, was also a CCF recipient and encouraged her to apply. Her parents instilled in her, from a very young age, the importance of having a good education and how working through hardships will help you reach your goals. They taught her, no matter the age, hardships will always be an issue that can be resolved and the work of overcoming them will pay off every time. A perfect example of why this rings true to her is her grandparents. They immigrated to the United States from Italy when they were only seventeen years old. The fact that Maria’s grandparents were able to leave it all behind and create an amazing life is a daily motivator to her. Her family’s drive and determination to succeed is something she makes a priority in her own life.

Scholarship Spotlight: John Schiano

Focusing on your success so fiercely to achieve your goals only so you can give back and help others is not typically in the minds of high school freshmen. John Schiano is an exception to this and is very determined to succeed. While being extremely school oriented, John’s favorite thing is to give back and raise money to help others. During his freshman year of high school, he became President of Xaverian High School’s Italian club. During the club, he, along with his fellow members, plan holiday functions, bake sales, and school events. He also has created the club’s logo and is in the process of making shirts to fundraise for Xaverian. The proceeds of merchandise and event sales are split between supporting his school and the club. John also serves as the Freshman representative for his school’s student council in which he hopes of having a voice for his class. In elementary school, he was Vice President and hopes to do the same one day at Xaverian.

While juggling the Freshman Representative position, President of the Italian Club, and fundraising for his school, John kept his first quarter grades at a nearly 100% average and was awarded the highest honors. His ability to succeed in everything he does is fueled by his passion to be a voice and outlet for others. One of his favorite and most challenging classes is Italian and he has followed the footsteps of his oldest brother and a few of his cousins by being a CCF scholarship recipient. John is inspired by CCF’s scholarship program and the Italian-American community’s desire to give back to their future generation.
 
One day, John hopes to pursue a career in business and politics. He hopes to combine the two in a way that is focused on giving back to people and is possibly interested in one day going into business with his brothers. Keeping a connection with his Italian heritage is extremely important to John and his family often gets together to discuss business and business ventures which keep him inspired. John looks up to his two older brothers and his extended family members who support him in everything he does and give him advice along the way. Although he claims he sometimes has trouble admitting it, he is indebted to them for teaching him what he knows and hopes to carry on his family traditions going forward.