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!

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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!

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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!

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2019 scholarship applications are now open!

Scholarship applications are now open for the 2019 year.

Recipients of the scholarship must be pursuing a career in education and demonstrate excellence in academics, extracurricular activities and leadership skills. The recipients must also demonstrate the spirit to Live, Laugh, and Love in both life and education the way Vicki did.

To download the 2019 National Scholarship application click here.

To download the 2019 Connecticut Scholarship application click here.

To download the 2019 Stratford High School and Bunnell High School application click here.

To download the 2019 renewable application click here. 

Grant opportunity for Stratford teachers!

Miss Soto’s Literacy Legacy is offering a grant opportunity to any Stratford teacher committed to carrying
out the messages of hope, community restoration, healing and unity through classroom programming.

The deadline to enter is 10/26/18 and the top three proposals will be selected, recognized and awarded on November 3, 2018 during the Vicki Soto 5k.
You can download the grant application here.

Back2School Drive 2018

The Vicki Soto Memorial Fund participated in Sterling House Community Center’s Back to School drive today. We gave away over 200 backpacks, pencil cases, book covers, glue sticks, crayons, colored pencils, folders and more! We are so honored to support the Stratford community and wish all students a successful school year!

Catching Up With Jessica Taliercio!

Jessica Taliercio, the 2017 scholarship recipient from Bunnell High School, wrote to us this summer to let us know how her freshman year at Quinnipiac University went.

Jessica said, “My first year at Quinnipiac University has been absolutely amazing. The campus is beautiful and the people are great. I made wonderful friends as soon as the first semester started, and I know they will be in my life forever.  Seven of us will be living in a suite together next year and I am very excited about it. I have loved my experience at Quinnipiac, and I cannot wait to continue it. It’s great that it is close to home, but I feel at home when I am there. Quinnipiac was not my first choice when deciding where I was going to go to college, but I can’t imagine going anywhere else.

I made the Dean’s list both fall and spring semesters of my first year. I only received one B the whole year, and the rest of my grades were A’s. It was difficult taking up to three math classes per semester, but math is my major and I was able to exceed in each of the classes. I am a part of the 5 year MAT program, but in my sophomore year I will be able to seal my spot in this amazing program. I joined the Quinnipiac Future Teachers Organization in which I met such wonderful future educators. I extended my involvement by playing intramural volleyball where my team and I won the championship in the fall.

What I am most proud of from my first year at Quinnipiac was being recommended by one of my professors to be a Calculus I peer tutor, in which I would hold review sessions for next year’s Calculus I students.  After applying and completing the interview processes, I was selected! Therefore, next year I will start being a Calculus I peer tutor! My goal is to become a high school math teacher, so this is going to be amazing practice for me!

I plan on being even more involved my sophomore year. I am very excited to see what is in store for me in my future at Quinnipiac University. I cannot wait to officially become a part of the education program and be one step closer into my dream of becoming a teacher.”

We are so proud of Jessica and her tremendous accomplishments in just her first year alone! We wish her all the best next year and cannot wait for her next update!

Taliercio, Jessica M

Catching Up With Rachael Merritt!

Rachael Merritt received the VSMF scholarship in 2015 from Bunnell High School. Rachael attends Central Connecticut State University and is entering her senior year. This summer we spoke to her to catch up on everything!

“I have been busy this summer working at Pumpkin Preschool with my wonderful coworkers and children. I am eager to start my senior year at Central Connecticut State University with a 3.84 GPA!

Last semester I completed field work in a middle school English classroom and it was so much fun! When I return to school, I will be completing the last of my field work hours in local middle and high schools as I gear up to begin student teaching. I am also so excited to go back to school and begin work as the Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society Vice President! Although it is always tough to go to school away from my family, I am eager to finish this next chapter in continuing Vicki’s legacy.”

We are so proud of Rachael for her outstanding academic achievements and wish her all the best this fall as she continues her field work hours and looks ahead to student teaching!

Catching Up With Rachael Merritt

Catching Up With Kaitlyn Keegan!

Kaitlyn Keegan just completed her freshman year at College of Charleston and wrote to us to share how her first year went. Kaitlyn, our 2017 Stratford High School VSMF Scholarship recipient, said: “With my freshman year of college being completed already, I finally understand why everybody tells me to enjoy each and every second. It truly does fly by so quickly!

College of Charleston has become my second home and I could not imagine going to school anywhere else. I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to go to such an amazing school. Being in the city of Charleston has given me access to so many beautiful people, places and resources that have inspired me, motivated me and pushed me just enough, all while making sure that I stayed grounded and never take for granted the simplicity in the beauty that I am surrounded by every day in Charleston. I have been lucky enough to have met some outstanding future educators that I will be proud to be teaching with once I graduate from Charleston! It is amazing to see so many people so motivated to not only become educators, but to make a positive impact on the world.

This past school year, I decided to change my major from Elementary Education to Early Childhood Education due to the fact that I want to be able to work with children in the earliest years of their lives as students so that I can make sure that they are well rounded students with a strong foundation that are inspired by everything around them, that have a love and a passion for learning once they reach elementary school.

During the 2018 Spring Semester, I was chosen through College of Charleston’s Impact Program to be a Peer Academic Coach! I will begin my classes and my training this coming Fall Semester and will be in full swing starting as a Peer Academic Coach in the Spring of 2019! I am very thankful for this opportunity and cannot wait to help as many students as I can. On campus, I have been involved with College of Charleston’s branch of Save the Children Action Network and been involved with student activism. I love to volunteer with children and to make as big an impact as I possibly can. I am very excited to get back to school so that I can accomplish even more, make more amazing memories, and do what I love!”

It was so great hearing from Kaitlyn and all that she has been involved with her freshman year! We are so proud of her for all of her academic success and continued passion for being involved with so many wonderful programs in Charleston that support children. We wish her all the best as she gets ready for her sophomore year this fall!

KK