SOUTHINGTON - Almost 400 high school students from central Connecticut were honored by the American Savings Foundation on Tuesday night as recipients of the Robert T. Kenney Scholarship.
The reception, held at the Aqua Turf Club, celebrated the 386 recipients of the scholarship for the 2017-18 academic year. The 386 students hail from 64 towns and cities across the region and received a combined $780,000.
The scholarship program is named in honor of Robert T. Kenney, who helped establish the American Savings Foundation in 1995 after years of being a leader in the state’s banking industry. When Kenney passed away in 2011, the ASF’s Board of Directors created the scholarship program to honor his legacy.
“Bob’s philosophy was to do the job right the first time,” Charles J. Boulier III, chairman of the ASF’s Board of Directors, said of Kenney. “He had a lifelong commitment to leadership and community service.”
Three guest speakers, all former Robert T. Kenney Scholarship recipients, spoke about their experiences as professionals since they received their scholarships. All of their stories related to this year’s theme: leadership.
Samantha Morales, a scholarship recipient in 2008, is currently a marketing communications specialist at Cigna. Morales spoke about her experiences embracing new challenging opportunities, like when she was tasked with presenting to her company’s leadership team while still an intern in college. Morales was recently asked to join the board of directors of the YWCA Hartford Region.
“What makes a leader isn’t about how smart you are or knowing all there is to know, it’s about your willingness to learn, to be open to new ideas, to be willing to share your own, and most importantly your ability to take snippets of skills from every experience you’ve ever had and apply them to the challenge ahead,” Morales said to the room of students and their families.
Caitlyn Prescott, a 2002 scholarship recipient, talked about lessons she learned through both formal leadership development programs and work experience as she’s taken on roles of increasing responsibility as a professional. Prescott is currently Aetna’s director of commercial New York and New Jersey finance.
“If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t stretching yourself,” Prescott said. “It’s how you handle your mistakes that set you apart.”
Jeremy Race, a scholarship recipient from 1997, talked about some of the lessons he has learned during his first year as president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Southwest New England. Among his tips for the students, Race told the future leaders to never do something just for the money.
“The best leaders that I’ve seen and been around are not in it solely for financial rewards, they have little or no ego, and they don’t get excited about having that power,” Race said.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.