2019 VSMF Stratford High School Scholarship Winner, Saraya Lewis!

We are so excited and honored to announce our 2019 VSMF Stratford High School Scholarship Winner, Saraya Lewis! Saraya has a clear passion for education beginning when she was just a little girl. She said, “As a child until now, I have always loved school! Education has always played a huge role in my life, as I come from a family of educators. Receiving this scholarship means the world to me. Having the opportunity to receive a scholarship named after someone so gracious and loving as Victoria Soto, is a win on its own. It also means that many people believe in me to carry out her legacy in my own future classroom, and that feeling is one of a kind.”

Saraya will be attending The University of Connecticut (Storrs Campus) this fall. She is in the ACES (Academic Center for Exploratory Students) Program as a Pre-Teaching major. For the first two years of college, she will be taking prerequisite courses that focus on Secondary English Education. During the middle of her sophomore year she will be applying for admission into the Neag School of Education at UCONN for her junior year.

In order to prepare for college, Saraya told us she has been visiting UCONN websites, reading, writing, and preparing herself mentally for her rigorous schedule in the fall. Additionally, she said she is babysitting weekly and spending time with family and friends.

Saraya is without a doubt, a tremendous addition to our scholarship winners and Team Vicki Soto family. Saraya said, “It felt so amazing to receive this scholarship because it meant I was able to form a connection with the Soto Family over something so important in today’s society. It felt as if all my hard work and dedication to school was meaningful and productive.” We are already so proud of Saraya’s drive, passion, commitment and determination to education. We cannot wait to see all that she accomplishes this fall. We know that down the road when she has a classroom of her own one day, her students will be in awe of Saraya as we already are today.

Congratulations Saraya!

IMG_5334  IMG_5333  IMG_5332

2019 VSMF Bunnell High School Scholarship Winner, Kaylie Broadhurst

Congratulations to our 2019 VSMF Bunnell High School Scholarship Winner, Kaylie Broadhurst! Kaylie said, “I didn’t know that I was receiving Vicki’s scholarship until my name was called during “Bunnell’s Senior Scholarship Night”. When I heard my name get announced I felt overwhelmed but then honored to have been given the opportunity to continue Vicki’s legacy. Receiving this scholarship means the world to me. Growing up in Stratford in the tight community that we are, everybody seems to know just about everyone. With having my twin brother who played baseball and my dad who coached for an organization in the town, I got to meet a lot of our community at a young age. One of those people happened to be Vicki, while she was at the field supporting and cheering on her brother. After Vicki’s passing, I came to learn that we both shared a similar passion for teaching and love/importance for our family. During the past 6 1/2 years of attending events to continue Vicki’s legacy, I have seen what one person’s passion can turn into and how it can unite communities. To me receiving this scholarship is another step allowing me to be closer to fulfilling my passion of teaching and having a positive impact on my future students and those around me.”

This fall, Kaylie will be attending Southern Connecticut State University. She wants to get involved in the many different programs offered on campus, including being part of the FLEX program, which will give her the opportunity to work on leadership skills and meeting more people in the community. Currently, Kaylie is a special education major, but she is hoping during her sophomore year to apply to be a part of the collaborative special education/elementary education major. With this, she will be qualified to teach special education grades k-12 and elementary education grades 1-6.

We are already so proud of Kaylie and her passion, drive and ambition to teach both special and elementary education. We know Kaylie is destined to do amazing things both inside and outside of the classroom. We cannot wait to see all that she accomplishes this fall!

IMG_5331

2019 VSMF National Scholarship Winner, Caroline Peterson

Announcing the 2019 VSMF National Scholarship Winner, Caroline Peterson from Unionville High School in Kennett, PA! Out of all the applicants from around the country, Caroline was the clear choice, embodying Vicki’s spirit and passion for education. Upon learning she won the scholarship, she said, “I was super surprised to say the least, mainly because it was the national scholarship, so I knew the Vicki Soto team must have been choosing between wonderful candidates for this prestigious award. It was quite hard to wrap my head around everything and I got teary eyed before I went up to get my award.”

Sharing a little of Caroline’s passion for education, she said “In my senior year of high school I participated in Teacher Leadership Academy, which is a dual enrollment program offered to seniors in high school interested in a career in education. Students have the opportunity to participate in three seven-week field experiences interning with teachers in local classrooms. The curriculum covers material from three college level education courses. Eligible students may obtain nine transferable college credits from Delaware County Community College. Throughout the year, I student taught in a first grade classroom, a fourth grade classroom, and a second grade classroom because I for sure want to be an elementary school teacher. My favorite rotation was first grade because they were always so curious and excited to learn new information. The way that children respond to you is magical because they trust you and go into each day looking forward to something, whether it be learning a new math fact or simply interacting with others.”

In addition to Caroline’s enthusiasm for teaching and her impactful application essay, unbeknownst to us prior to applying for the scholarship, Caroline had met Vicki. Before Vicki had an assigned classroom of her own, she was the go-to substitute teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary. “This award is so much more than an award to me, because not only have I known about this scholarship for a long time, but I actually had Vicki as a substitute many times when I went to Sandy Hook Elementary and my younger sister Jessie, had her as her first grade teacher in 2011, a year before the shooting. Knowing that Vicki’s family thought I was one of the best candidates to represent her makes me emotional because I know that they are placing their trust in me to carry on Vicki’s legacy to live, laugh, and love. Vicki lived such a bright and colorful life – she brought smiles to people’s faces and all the children loved her. I remember thinking to myself “I hope that Miss Soto is our substitute today” any day my teacher would be absent, and I hope that my future students think of me how I thought of Miss Soto – with complete admiration. I will never stop being inspired by my teachers, professors, family, students, colleagues, and I will take the lessons that they have all taught me to help me grow into the teacher and woman that I know I can become.”

This fall, Caroline is planning to attend the University of Delaware majoring in Elementary Education.

2019 VSMF Connecticut State Scholarship Winner, Regina Misercola!

Welcome to our Team Vicki Soto family 2019 VSMF Connecticut State Scholarship Winner, Regina Misercola! Regina is a graduate of Trumbull High School in Trumbull, CT and will be attending Southern Connecticut State University’s Honors College this fall majoring in English and Secondary Education.

When Regina first found out that she was receiving the VSMF scholarship she said, “I felt my heart skip a beat….several beats, actually. Vicki’s sister, Carlee, and a previous scholarship recipient (2016 VSMF Scholarship Recipient: Olivia Mastroluca) came to my high school’s “Scholarship Night” ceremony. I didn’t know they were there until they stepped up to the podium on stage. When they read my name, I was overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. I am beyond honored to be given a scholarship in Vicki’s name and to have been chosen to join the Team Vicki Family. Winning this scholarship reaffirms my decision to pursue a degree in education and become a teacher. I already feel so connected to Vicki’s mission. This scholarship further fuels my fire to teach and to help spread her legacy and light. I am honored that Vicki’s family saw the same kind of drive and passion in me that Vicki embodied. I am so excited to share that spirit with my future students and to spread her mission and my passion for writing in my classroom. This scholarship will help make that possible.”

It is easy to see why Regina was chosen as the state winner this year! We are so honored and excited to have Regina join our list of scholarship winners and our growing Team Vicki Soto family! This summer, Regina has been preparing for college by dorm room shopping, running, traveling, reading and writing, babysitting and dog sitting. She said, “I’ve already started planting my roots on campus for the other causes that I’m passionate about, especially raising money and awareness for childhood cancer, by connecting with current students and administrators. Each time I’ve visited Southern since applying for the scholarship, I’ve stopped by the Remembrance Garden, where light shines from every angle. I know that will be my spot on campus to reflect and breathe.”

We wish Regina all the best this fall and are so excited to watch her grow into a classroom of her own one day! Congratulations!

IMG_5330    IMG_5329