Six student residents are winners of the Cranbury Lions Club 2019 annual scholarships.
During the club’s monthly dinner meeting on July 10, the recipients were recognized for the scholarships at Teddy’s Restaurant in downtown Cranbury.
“This is a long standing annual event. This means a lot to the Lions because it is about people who serve the community either at their school, church or somewhere else in Cranbury,” said Jeff Grundy, chairman of the Lions Club Student Affairs Committee. “These individuals have made a contribution to society. We are recognizing people who have done excellent things in serving a population.”
The scholarships are the Stan Thomas Scholarships, Dr. David C. Tudor Science Scholarship, Todd M. Beamer Memorial Scholarship and two The Lions We Serve Scholarships.
All of the winners are Cranbury residents, according to club officials.
Tessa Katz and Gianna Di Gioacchino each received the Stan Thomas Scholarships, which awarded them $250 each.
Stan Thomas was a life-long Cranbury resident who shared his time and energy with volunteer organizations in Cranbury, namely Boy scout Troop 52, his Church, and the Lion’s Club, according to club officials.
“I was really proud when I found out I had received this scholarship. I felt like my hard work had really paid off and I was being rewarded for my actions throughout my life and middle school career,” Gianna said.
She said helping others is the best part of volunteering.
This fall Gianna will be attending Princeton High School.
Anika Sonig, a Princeton graduated senior, was awarded the $1,500 Dr. David C. Tudor Scholarship.
Dr. Tudor, a Cranbury Lion, was a practicing veterinarian on Station Road, as well as, a professor at Rutgers. The Cranbury Lion’s established this scholarship in his name to be given annually to a high school senior, who will major in science at an accredited college and or university.
“I felt so grateful for all of the support that I have gotten over the past few years from my high school, my mentors and teachers to pursue science. To know that Dr. Tudor was such an honored and respected veterinarian,” Anika said. “It made it even more special for me because I knew that I was getting this from a very esteemed and honorable member of our community”
She said the best part of science for her is science’s ability to make an impact and help people.
“We are able to gain knowledge from science. We are also able to execute and implement it in our communities and everyday lives. In the future I hope to become a doctor,” Anika said. “I want to give back to my community.”
This fall Anika will attend Rice University in Houston.
Joining Anika from Princeton High School is graduated senior Isabel Kinney, who was awarded the Todd C. Beamer Memorial Scholarship.
Todd Beamer a Cranbury resident and Lion, gave his life on Sept. 11, 2001, leading other passengers in overpowering the hi-jackers of United Airlines Flight 93. This scholarship is given annually to a high school senior who has demonstrated citizenship in the community.
She received $1,500 from the scholarship.
“It is such an honor growing up in Cranbury and seeing others receive this award and knowing the Beamer family I was so absolutely honored. Everything that I do and put into my community is for the community,” Isabel said. “Giving back to my community is what it is all about.”
She said she hopes people take from her the idea of being good to others and their community.
“Love those around you. Everything I do is about me wanting to give back. I feel so honored to have grown up in Cranbury. This is not just for me it is for this town,” Isabel said.
Isabel will be attending Bowdoin College in Maine this upcoming fall.
During the evening event the first ‘Lions We Serve Scholarship’ went to Vladislav Stepanov.
This is given to a high school senior who has exhibited qualities of leadership and character,” according to officials.
Vladislav received $1,500 from the scholarship.
“I really was happy and confused. I felt a little nervous for the ceremony. Leadership is about invoking the change you want to see in the world, as a way to affect people in positive ways.”
He said he hopes people can make one impact in someone’s life.
This upcoming fall, Vladislav will be attending Rutgers University, where he be majoring in computer science.
Mary Mena was honored with the second ‘Lion’s We Serve Scholarship’ in honor of Lion David Schaffer.
Schaffer a Cranbury resident and dedicated Lion who served this community faithfully from 2004-2018, according to officials.
She was awarded $1,500 from the scholarship.
Mena is receiving this award for a second time. Mary was a recipient of the “Lions We Serve” Scholarship in 2018.
“I was really excited when I found out that I was receiving this scholarship for a second time. The club is helping me pay for college. Even though my mom had a stroke in my first semester I still kept trying harder and harder,” Mena said. “I would come back home and go back to go to my classes. The scholarship really helps me with that. I was able to pay for books and gave me the courage to keep going, to not take off time and come back home. Here I am with a 3.8 gpa.”
She said she hopes people will take from her the idea of pushing through every hardship you face.
“Life will not always be steady you are going to have bumps in there and you just have to know to keep going,” Mena said.
She attends the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, beginning the pursuit of a doctorate of Pharmacy degree. The degree will be a six-year commitment, according to club officials.
“This is one example of where people can see that there is recognition of service. I hope the students will takeaway the feeling of comradery,” Grundy said. “We hope that when they go away to college or university or later they will contribute wherever they are; hopefully helping people better their own lives.”