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2016 Colleen Ritzer Scholarship Recipients Begin Journey to the Classroom

Wrapping up their first semester in college, the newest Colleen Ritzer Scholarship recipients are learning to develop good study habits as they formally began their journey to a degree in education. Some have already taken advantage of opportunities to work, or observe, in classrooms as they took their first courses in education.

Rachel Drew thoroughly enjoyed her Fundamentals in Mathematics and philosophy and theology courses at Boston College and is still interested in pursuing a major in education.

“If anything, this semester has solidified my decision, and I am more excited than ever to continue,” Drew said. “The deans, advisors, professors, and other employees in Boston College’s Lynch School of Education, are the most loving and caring people I have come into contact with at my school. Their devotion to us, not just as students, but as full people has exemplified the ideal image of what educators can do.”

In addition to getting acclimated to life in college, Drew also pursued volunteer opportunities with The Commonwealth Tenants Association where she serves as a mentor and tutor. Through work with her student, a 7-year-old, Drew is able to apply lessons she obtained in a math class and get a glimpse – from the inside – of the structure of Boston Public Schools.

“Supporting this scholarship fund means supporting people who are not always given the credit they deserve in a field that deserves it as well,” added Drew.

At Bridgewater State University, Anna Fateiger has already declared a major in mathematics, and discovered in the transition from high school to college that she is much more adaptable than thought and thriving in the college environment.

With plans to pursue a masters while teaching in a classroom upon graduation, Fateiger is exploring research opportunities in addition to teaching.

When not in the classroom this semester, Fateiger volunteered with Gifts to Give, an organization that provides basic needs for children.

“It’s cliché to say, I know, but I absolutely love college,” Fateiger shared. “The independence involved has really helped me grow into more of an adult, and the programs I have joined have really allowed me to meet a bunch of amazing and kind people.”

Heading west on the Mass. Pike, Lillie Hodgkins and Kristen McCarthy have just completed their first semester at Assumption College.

Hodgkins particularly enjoyed her Psychology of Child Development class where she raised a “virtual child” developing a greater understanding of how children develop at various stages in life. She shared that the experience helped to foresee the type of parent and teacher she might become. However, that is not the only personality trait she discovered this semester.

“This semester I discovered that I can truly do anything I set my mind to,” said Hodgkins. “In high school, I feel like I did not succeed as much as others because I always thought I was not smart, but this semester I realized the opposite. I have tried very hard this semester and am doing great in my classes because of that, and am excited to see what the future holds.”

Hodgkins also shares her appreciation for the Scholarship.

“…thank you so much for allowing me this experience and for helping make it even better for me with all of the support this scholarship holds,” she shared. “It is an honor that I help carry on the legacy of Colleen Ritzer, and I appreciate everything I have been given with it. Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity.”

Also at Assumption, Kristen McCarthy has embraced her education classes, in particular Calculus and Schools in American Society. McCarthy’s aspirations are to become an elementary school teacher given her “love for working with kids” and learning about the education system during her first semester.

Heading even further west on the Mass Pike, Springfield College first-year student Maddy Reppucci has discovered a true love for her chosen field, sharing “teaching is really what I am meant to do and that I want nothing more than to continue to help others.”

Despite this being her first semester, Reppucci has already taken advantage of some student teaching opportunities in a financially-disadvantaged area. The work has affirmed her decision to major in education and Reppucci draws inspiration from the students who come from difficult backgrounds.

Through the Scholarship, Reppucci is provided resources to pursue her dream.

“The Scholarship has made a difference in my ability to pursue my career aspirations as a teacher because it had made me realize how lucky I am every day to get to be doing what I love,” shared Reppucci. “I get to go to school every day and learn how to become a future teacher. I am so inspired by Colleen’s story and I hope that someday I can be the amazing teacher that she was.”

At the University of New Hampshire, Lindsay Richard has drawn inspiration from interacting with students from different backgrounds and learning abilities, enjoying foundation classes for special education majors such as English and psychology.

“I am very much still interested in pursuing a career in the field of education,” explains Richard. “Going to college and seeing programs that incorporate students of all learning capacities makes me so excited to be able to get children to this point in their lives.”

Like the other recipients, Richard, too, is grateful for the assistance.

“I would like to share with the supporters of this Scholarship Fund is my deepest gratitude for allowing me to pursue my dream career of special education,” said Richard. “Thank you for this honor, from the bottom of my heart.”

In the Deep South, Erica Taft has just completed her first semester at Tulane University where she is learning the importance of time management and enjoying her Social Policy class. However, it was a freshman seminar class on education that has encouraged her to continue her pursuit of a degree in education.

“The class was really interesting to me and definitely piqued my interest in learning more about education policy and how it disproportionately affects certain groups.” said Taft. “I am excited that I have found a passion in education policy and am looking forward to seeing where it takes me.”

The class enabled Taft to volunteer at a local charter school where she observed fifth grade instruction of mathematics and English.

Taft continues to draw inspiration from Colleen.

“I am so honored to continue my education in Ms. Ritzer’s name and she continues to inspire me to be enthusiastic in my studies and tackle life with a smile on my face,” said Taft.