ANDOVER, Massachusetts – February 11, 2015 – The family of Colleen E. Ritzer announced today that applications are now being accepted for memorial scholarships named in Colleen’s honor. Andover, Danvers and Nashoba Regional High School seniors who plan to graduate this year are eligible, and encouraged, to apply. All applications must be received by April 1, 2015.
“Colleen had two passions in life: making the learning of complex math theorems fun and spending time with her loving family,” said the Ritzer family. “Recipients of a Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship help to create a permanent legacy for Colleen as they study to become caring teachers dedicated to the success of their future students. As a family, we are incredibly grateful to the many individuals and organizations who have generously given in support of the scholarship fund and to those that continue to host events in Colleen’s honor. Their support is having a direct impact on the education of future teachers.”
Last year, more than $20,000 in scholarships were awarded to 12 students from Andover and Danvers High Schools. At the end of their first semester of college studies, each of the recipients reaffirmed their commitment to pursuing an education or specific education-related degree. The first recipients of a Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship are attending institutions of higher learning such as Assumption College; Endicott College; University of Connecticut; University of North Carolina, Wilmington; University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and more.
The Ritzer family established the scholarship fund to honor Colleen’s passion for teaching and family and to create a permanent legacy for their daughter and sister. The fund is supported by donations from generous individuals and organizations, the Step Up for Colleen 5K and other events held to honor the memory of Colleen Ritzer such as the Andover Youth Services Christmas Tree sale, a Holiday Pops concert and more.
Eligible applicants must be well-rounded graduating seniors at Andover, Danvers or Nashoba Regional High School who demonstrate a passion for teaching, academic excellence and love of family. Those applying for a scholarship award must plan to pursue a degree in the field of education at an accredited four year college or university in fall 2015. Students who plan to major in a specific education-related subject, such as math, science, etc. are also encouraged to apply for a scholarship award. Interested students may download a scholarship application here.
The Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to a Nashoba Regional High School senior in honor of sophomore Michelle Farnsworth who passed in January of this year. (Upon graduation from college, Colleen taught 8th grade math at Hale Middle School. The students she taught now attend Nashoba Regional High School.) A school-choice student from Leominster, Michelle was a member of the high school field hockey and swam with the Wachusett Swim Club while balancing a demanding academic schedule that included accelerated Spanish 2, Algebra 2, Environmental Science, English and U.S. History. Michelle accomplished much on the field, in the pool and in the classroom. Despite the challenges she faced fighting a rare muscle cancer, Michelle always maintained a positive outlook, often sharing “Smile, because life is too short to be anything but happy.”
A selection committee comprised of family members, teachers and guidance counselors will review eligible applications. The application process includes an essay describing why the applicant plans to pursue an education degree and what or who has inspired them. The application also asks students to reflect on words shared by Colleen in her college essay in which she shared “Teachers have been an inspiration to me ever since I was just a young girl. Starting in pre-school, I knew I loved helping the teachers and would one day want to be just like them. My dream is to become a teacher, one who shapes the minds and lives of children. My goal has always been to become a teacher that will impact students’ lives.”