January and Spring 2020 Scholarships Announced!

It’s time to announce Athena’s esteemed group of J-Term and Spring Semester 2020 Scholarship Recipients. We received a record-number of fantastic applications this year, and now we are pleased to introduce you to the recipients of this year’s Athena’s scholarships:

Michele Iavagnilio Charitable Service Scholarship $8,000

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Simeon Shama

Grand Valley State University

Florence, Italy LDM

Simeon Shama, a junior in liberal studies at Grand Valley State University, is the recipient of the $8,000 Michele Iavagnilio Charitable Service Scholarship to study in Spring 2020 at Athena’s program in Florence at the Lorenzo de’ Medici institute (LdM). Shama, who is from Chicago, already has an extensive background as a volunteer as a mentor for children, working in poverty agencies, summer camps, an arts center, and his church. He said he plans to use scholarship money partially to buy equipment and supplies for a clothing company he wants to start that would serve underprivileged youth with high-quality clothes. The Iavagnilio scholarship is for the Athena student who can best demonstrate a commitment to and active participation in charitable service in his/her community. Michele Iavagnilio was a young Italian man who dedicated his life to autistic children in work at the Cireneo Onlus Foundation. Tragically, he died at age 25 in the devastating earthquake at L’Aquila, Italy.

Read more about Simeon and the inspirational contributions he has made to his community.

Athena Marie McKay Global Citizen Scholarship $1,000


Jordan Viner

Worcester State University

Florence, Italy LDM

Jordan Viner, a sophomore in occupational studies at Worcester State University, is the recipient of a $1,000 Marie McKay Global Citizen Scholarship. She will study at Athena’s program in Florence during Spring 2020. Viner has been involved for many years with special needs students, including work with the Best Buddies organization and unified sports teams in her high school. The Marie McKay scholarship is designed for the Athena student who can best demonstrate an interest in and intention to promote the concept of social justice at a city, state, national and/or global level.

Athena Vincent I. Benander Learning Scholarship $1,000

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Caroline Ricupero

Worcester State University

Florence, Italy LDM

Caroline Ricupero, a sophomore in occupational therapy and psychology at Worcester State University, is the recipient of the $1000 Vincent I. Benander Learning Scholarship. Ricupero plans to eventually obtain a doctorate in occupational therapy, and describes herself as a lifelong learner who overcame a significant childhood speech disability to become an excellent student. The Benander scholarship is designed for the Athena student who can best demonstrate a love of learning in his/her major area of study and superior academic abilities.

Athena Short-Term Service Scholarship $400

Amanda Cartee

Amanda Cartee

Miami University (Oxford, OH)

Florence, Italy LDM

Amanda Cartee, a junior in sociology at Miami University of Ohio, is the recipient of the $400 Short-Term Service Scholarship. She will study during January 2020 at Athena’s program in Florence, Italy. Cartee, whose older sister also studied abroad in Italy, says she’s been surrounded all her life by Italian culture because part of her family heritage is Italian. Cartee says that she can’t wait to immerse herself in Italian culture and food, including her interest in fully exploring Florence and learning more about European fashion. The Short-Term Service scholarship is for a student who supports Athena’s mission of creating a service-minded global community. The recipient must have devoted a day to a service project, either a new one or continuing one. Applicants must submit a related photo and explain the experience and what they gained from it.

Athena Penny Scholarship $250


Manutchanok Emma Losey

West Chester University

Cusco, Peru

Hunter Weidner

Hunter Weidner

Capital University

Florence, Italy LDM

Manutchanok “Emma” Losey, a junior in respiratory therapy at West Chester University, and Hunter Weidner, a senior in art therapy and psychology at Capital University, are the recipients of Athena Penny Scholarships. Both will study abroad during January 2020, Losey at Athena’s program in Cusco, Peru, and Weidner at Athena’s program in Florence. Losey, originally from Thailand, wants to continue to improve her Spanish-language skills in a Spanish-speaking environment and wants to understand Incan and Peruvian culture. She also is excited to explore the area’s diverse ecosystem. Weidner wants to immerse herself in Italian culture, especially Florence’s art, while taking academically rigorous courses at LdM. She sees Florence’s culture and history as ways to learn about humanity generally. The Penny Scholarship is open to students who write essays explaining why they have selected specific program locations, the program’s unique offerings, and details about what the student expects to gain from the experience.

Congratulations again to the winners of these scholarship awards and thank you to all of you who submitted scholarship applications. There were a lot of great applications this year and you certainly didn’t make the decision easy for us! We are very proud to have so many alumni who are dedicated to giving back to the world and recognize the value of education!

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