Incoming freshmen receive grant from acclaimed author

William Antonelli has spent summers teaching cinematography and writing at a camp in Massachusetts as well as volunteering with disadvantaged children to help teach them art and social skills. It was experiences such as these that led Antonelli and seven other freshmen to receive the James Patterson Teacher Education scholarships this year. Awarded to students interested in education––especially literary-based education–– the scholarship allots $6,000 per year to each student.

The other recipients include freshmen Catherine Blaszak, Jennifer Joyce, George Goga, Julia Kinel, Simone Louie, Melissa Rao and Renee Weinstein.

“The whole idea around it is to spread literacy, especially in school systems,” Blaszak said.

According to Antonelli, the Patterson Family Foundation donates the money but Geneseo makes the decision as to which students receive the honor.

Geneseo is one of 22 schools that the Patterson Family Foundation has awarded this scholarship to, and this is the first year it has been offered to incoming freshmen. Last year was the first year that the scholarship was present at Geneseo and it was awarded to second-semester freshmen.

“It’s the first year they’re offering it like this, so they want to take pictures of us and record us doing certain things to promote the scholarship,” Weinstein said.

Antonelli added that the students need to maintain a 3.0 grade point average and are required to write a letter to the Patterson Family Foundation each year detailing the work they have been doing, along with future volunteering that they plan to participate in.

The recognized students received word of their scholarship offering in the spring, around the time they had to make their final college decision. For some students, receiving this scholarship encouraged them to attend Geneseo even though they had another school in mind.

“I chose [adolescent] education because I like how teachers have such a direct impact, especially on young people,” Louie said. “I like having that personal relationship with people I’m impacting. This scholarship means a lot to me because although I’m a United States citizen, I still have to pay overseas fees because my family lives in Hong Kong––this helps a lot.”

Rao felt the same combination of delight and pride in regards to receiving this honor.

“I was really, really excited,” she said. “Especially with the wording they used in the letter that said that I got it. It said I ‘have a love for literacy and that I want to instill that,’ and that’s basically my whole thing. I love reading and that’s the reason why I want to be an English teacher. So to be already recognized for that was really exciting.”