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CCF Scholarship Bios

Meet our Columbus Citizens Foundation Scholarship Recipients:

Meet John Carucci, CCF Scholarship Recipient, alumnus St. Edmund Preparatory High School and New York Institute of Technology (NYIT)

“I owe a lot of my successes to not only St. Edmund Prep, but also to CCF for the scholarship that allowed me to explore my passions in school without the financial burden. Receiving the scholarship for the first time in high school and then again in college was a dream come true.”

Read More About John

CCF has had a huge impact not only on John Carucci, but on the entire Carucci family. John received the CCF scholarship for both high school and college. His brother and sister also received CCF scholarships, and the whole family has marched in the Columbus Day Parade. John says “CCF gave me the opportunity to follow my academic passions without burdening my parents with the financial responsibility of high school. I was one of three siblings that all attending Catholic grammar school and high school.”

After graduating third in his class from St. Edmund Prep in 2013, John enrolled in the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) and he graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in electrical and computer engineering. He stayed on at NYIT for an accelerated master’s program and graduated with distinction and a Master of Science degree in energy management in 2018.

After visiting St. Edmund Prep for an open house in 7th grade, John fell in love with the school. From the very beginning, the staff and students were extremely welcoming and ready to help him adjust to the challenging curriculum. St. Edmund allowed John to explore his academic interests and continuously challenge himself through taking AP and IB classes. He left “the Prep” ready to take on college and felt as though St. Edmund’s prepared him for the future. John says, “if I could go back in time, I would still choose St. Edmund’s because the academics, environment, faculty, and extracurriculars allowed me to grow, learn, and find my passions. Throughout my time in high school, I felt a strong affinity towards math and science, this led me to career choice of engineering and the rest is history.

John now works at Con Edison and after he started there as a cooperative intern for two years, he transitioned into Con Edison’s Growth Opportunities and Leadership Development Program (GOLD Program). Since graduating from the program, he holds the position of Chief Construction Inspector and he is managing about 25 employees. John would like to continue to advance his career at Con Edison to become a manager in the Construction Department and then transition into a manager of their Energy Efficiency and Demand Management department. He deeply cares about sustainability and believes that through his work at Con Edison he will have a role in protecting the environment.

Meet Marisa Garvin, CCF High School and College Scholarship Recipient, Preston High School and Fordham University, Bronx, NY

“The Columbus Citizens Foundation gave me the chance to follow my heart instead of being influenced by fear of financial burden. I am grateful to have received both the CCF High School and College Scholarships, giving me the opportunity to attend Fordham University.”

Read More About Marisa

Though she began her schooling at P.S. 71 in the Bronx, Marisa Garvin was able to attend Preston High School due in large part to the scholarship she received from CCF. At Preston she started the school newspaper during her junior year and was its Editor-in-Chief for two years, all while excelling in her classes and serving as President of the National Honor Society and National English Honor Society.

Attending Preston taught Marisa how to be a compassionate leader and instilled in her that in everything one does, there is always a way to help others and give back to the community. Marisa was a part of various fundraisers for organizations such as the Coalition for the Homeless and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. She also started a letter writing program at school for Operation Gratitude and Love for the Elderly that extended beyond the walls of Preston to local middle schools around the Bronx. Marisa credits the Preston staff, administration, guidance department, and her fellow classmates as all being instrumental in her success.

Focused on a potential career in organizational psychology, Marisa started her first year at Fordham University at the Gabelli School of Business this past fall, majoring in Business Administration with concentrations in marketing, social innovation, and business law and ethics and a minor that she is still deciding on, in either English or psychology. No matter what career path she takes, she plans on giving back to her community by advocating for mental health education in schools.

In only her first year at Fordham, Marisa has been awarded the 2020 Gabelli School of Business EY Woolworth Award and is also a Manresa Scholar. This semester she was selected to work on the Communication and Marketing Committee for Fordham’s United Student Government.

She also has created a business plan that incorporated the United Nation’s Sustainably effort of Good Health and Wellbeing with four of her classmates. After pitching their business plan, the team became one of 19 semi-finalists, then one of six finalists, in the PVH Ground Floor Competition. Placing in third in the Competition was a transformative and affirming experience for Marisa.

Marisa learned of the CCF Scholarships after her brother was awarded one to attend high school. She says, “to receive a scholarship for high school meant the world to me. I was able to make an easy decision between an accredited public school or Preston High School, a prestigious private school that I knew was the right choice.” Thanks to the CCF scholarship, she plans to use what she learned about leadership in Preston and what she will learn about the business world during her four years at Fordham to start a successful career.

Meet Federica Bruno, CCF College Scholarship Recipient, Marist College, Poughkeepsie, New York

“As a CCF College Scholarship Recipient, I was given the opportunity to experience an education that I otherwise would not have been able to afford. The Columbus Citizens Foundation not only gave me the opportunity to attend my dream school, but also helped me land my first ever internship, which turned into my current full-time job.”

Read More About Federica

Federica developed an interest in technology very early in life which led her to study and pursue a career in the typically male-dominated STEM field. After completing her undergraduate degree at Marist College, she enrolled in Marist’s graduate program for Science in Information Systems and Security, where she received her Master of Science degree in 2019, graduating Summa Cum Laude.

By participating in CCF’s Scholars Internship Program in 2018, Federica was given the opportunity to work and learn at Fiserv, a global provider of financial services technology. Taking the first steps into her career as a Global Cyber Security Intern at Fiserv, she performed Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) tasks by analyzing collected data and distributing those findings to key stakeholders and identifying and responding to possible gaps to mitigate risks and vulnerabilities. She returned to the team at Fiserv in May 2019 as a full-time Cyber Analyst. The dynamic nature of the cyber field, constantly changing and expanding, has motivated Federica to become certified in the industry. With that, she hopes to continue to form new relationships, build on existing ones, and contribute to Fiserv’s overall strategic vision of emerging technology.

Aside from her work Federica was selected to be the on-going NY/NJ Chapter Leader for Fiserv’s Young Professionals (YoPro) Council. She hosts events that foster both personal and professional development, well-being in the community, and social networking through the workforce. Like the CCF’s Young Adults Auxiliary (YAA), YoPro provides a channel to further one’s philanthropic passions. Federica says, "being a member of CCF’s YAA has also allowed me to share and learn from experiences among young professionals in all careers, as well as connect with others who share the same cultural background as I do."

Both of Federica’s parents were born in Italy, and she prides herself on being a first-generation Italian American. Her family always made it a point to attend the Columbus Day Parade every October while she was growing up. She says, “watching the Parade festivities from the sidelines, Italian flags waving in every direction, and listening to invited special guests speak a tongue native to me, I felt at home and part of the community ever since a I was little girl."

Federica counts becoming a CCF Scholarship Recipient as one of the most rewarding privileges of her life and says that it brought great honor to her family. She notes that her involvement with CCF has been life-changing and provides a place for her to continually reinforce her values and enrich her Italian roots. Her goal is to establish herself in her career so that one day she can give back and sponsor a college student. She says, “Marist College equipped me with invaluable tools to both personally and professionally develop my career, but the Columbus Citizens Foundation provided me with the platform to succeed.”

Meet James Galeno Budion, CCF High School Scholar, Archbishop Molloy High School, Queens, NY

“When I learned I had received a scholarship from CCF I was absolutely elated! The funds my family received from the CCF scholarship made my attending Archbishop Molloy High School possible.”

Read More About James

Being able to challenge himself in his academic studies has proven very important to James Galeno-Budion, a graduating senior at Archbishop Molloy High School. He is currently taking four classes at the AP level, including world and US history, biology, and politics while also participating in several other honors courses. James also stays busy with his extracurricular activities: running track, writing on the school newspaper “The Stanner,” and participating in the creative writing club, “Literary Magazine.” You could also see him on stage in many Molloy productions including Little Women, Once Upon a Mattress, and A Christmas Carol.

James’s mother learned about CCF and suggested he apply for a High School Scholarship. He had been accepted to public school, but Molloy was his first choice, and since his sister was already attending a Catholic elementary school, it was going to be difficult for his mother to afford both tuitions. James notes that he is so grateful to CCF because without the scholarship he would not have been able to attend Molloy.

Molloy has been the perfect fit for him academically and where he could shine in his extracurricular experiences, but most importantly to James, a place that could provide for his spiritual growth. Molloy has also shown him the importance of giving back. James volunteers through school-led mission opportunities. Last summer he went Jamaica to work with adults with special needs who were aging out of the Jamaican care system. He will soon be going with Molloy to El Paso to work in a soup kitchen on the Texas/Mexico border.

One very special experience that James had was attending Esopus, a Marist center and retreat home on the Hudson. James attended their freshman camp where he met some of his closest friends and spent time reflecting spiritually. During his high school years, he has been back to Esopus several times. After graduation James hopes to attend a university to study writing, with an eye towards a career in film or television industry. The ability to create, share perspectives, and inspire others through art is his goal for his future career. James says, “I am very lucky to have had so many experiences that have enriched my life through the supportive teachers at Molloy and the opportunities I was afforded through the CCF High School Scholarship.”

Meet Marissa Masi, CCF Scholarship & Internship recipient and Class of 2013, Graduate, Pace University

“Receiving my [CCF Scholarship] award letter was emotional for me for multiple reasons. I was amazed and touched that there were people who believed in me and my capabilities when there were times when I did not believe in myself. Receiving a scholarship from CCF gave me a sense of empowerment and reassurance that I could accomplish whatever I put my mind to during this next chapter in my life.” 

Read More About Marissa

Pace University Lubin School of Business alumna, Marissa Masi, took her CCF College Scholarship and subsequent CCF Internship Program opportunities and parlayed them into a full-time job at EisnerAmper where she focuses on tax compliance for real estate private equity funds, real estate investment trusts, and real estate developers and investors. Marissa feels that internships bridge the gap between learning in class and the application of that knowledge, saying, “looking back on my internship, it is rewarding to see how far I have come. There were some clients that I worked on as an intern completing simple tasks and now three years later, I have developed a relationship with the same client, and I am now the senior team member on the account.” 

During her time at Pace, where she majored in accounting and human resource management, Marissa was secretary of Beta Gamma Sigma and attended the 2016 BGS Global Leadership Summit, where she was part of the winning team at the KPMG sponsored case competition. Additionally, Marissa was named one of Pace’s Top 100 Scholars. In 2017 she was presented with the Scholastic Achievement Award, an award that acknowledges students for their excellence in scholarship, effectiveness in class discussion, research, and outstanding performance in a baccalaureate degree program. 

Marissa was bitten by the travel bug when she took a two-week international management class in Shanghai and Beijing and has made a promise to herself that she would try to visit at least one new country each year (yes, she has made the trip to Italy!). Family traditions are also important to Marissa, and she finds her biggest inspiration in her grandmother, Rosa who would always tell her, “you have to keep pushing forward even on your worst days.” Marissa always remembers those words as she continues to pursue her goals.

As the first person in her immediate family to receive her college degree, Marissa understands the value of an education. She believes that education is so important because it creates knowledge, builds confidence, and most importantly establishes opportunity. She hopes to pursue an MBA in the future and expand on the knowledge that she learned in her organizational behavior and change management classes at Pace. Whether she works in accounting or human resources, Marissa says that she hopes to be in a position that will allow her to give back to CCF and “pay it forward to another deserving scholarship candidate.” 

Between a scholarship to attend college and introducing her to her first employer, Marissa says, “CCF has put me in a better position at 24 years old than my parents were even at the end of their careers, and for that I want to show my appreciation because I will never forget the difference CCF has made in my life and the role it has played in both my personal and professional development.”

Meet Victor Picini, CCF Scholarship recipient and current senior at The City College of New York

“I was honored and thrilled when I received the letter indicating that I would receive a CCF Scholarship; at the time I was unsure how I would pay for college. CCF has provided me with the foundation for my future career.”

Read More About Victor

Graduating from City College in May 2020 with a degree in civil engineering, Victor Picini is looking forward to making his mark on New York City’s skyline. He has been offered a position as Associate Engineer with the Lane Construction Corporation, where he has been an intern since 2017.

Victor was unsure of how he was going to pay for college. His father heard about CCF’s scholarships from a colleague at WABC-7, the network that airs the annual Columbus Day Parade, and strongly encouraged Victor to apply. Crediting his parents as his strongest influence, Victor strives to work hard to make them proud and continue to succeed.

The financial stress of higher education can make it harder for many students to earn a degree. Instead of focusing on schoolwork and discussing the bigger questions of the world, many students are thinking about finances and working additional jobs to just get by, and this leads to some students dropping out. Victor credits the CCF scholarship in helping him avoid this pitfall. He says, “the four-year CCF scholarship has greatly decreased my financial burden throughout my college career, allowing me to spend more time to focus on my engineering degree.”

In addition to the scholarship, CCF connected Victor to the Lane Construction Corporation, in his sophomore year, through the CCF Scholars Internship Program. He accepted an offer for a summer internship and eventually continued working with them part-time during the school year. Victor is excited to begin his career in the construction industry, where he plans to build on the knowledge he gained throughout his internship. He hopes to one day to become a Licensed Professional Engineer in New York State, but notes that without the Columbus Citizens Foundation, he would not be in the position he is now to start such a promising career.

Meet Robert Dungan, dual CCF Scholarship recipient and current sophomore at the College of Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts

“The Columbus Citizens Foundation college scholarship has permitted me to pursue my educational passions and has helped shape the person I am today. I will be forever indebted to CCF for believing in me and supporting the next generation of Italian-American leaders.” 

Read More About Robert

An accomplished student in the Italian Department at Holy Cross, Robert is the recipient of two CCF scholarships. He traveled to Rome in the summer of 2019 for an unforgettable opportunity to study abroad at John Cabot University and study art history as a recipient of the Adopt-A-Scholar scholarship, "CCF Guarini Scholarship."

Crediting CCF as an inspiration in continuing his Italian studies, Robert won the competitive Maurizio Vannicelli Prize. This prize is a Holy Cross Italian Studies department award and is typically awarded to a senior, but Robert was presented the award as a freshman for his excellent essay, written entirely in Italian, on “‚ÄčI Vespri Siciliani.” Realizing the importance of fostering a global community, Robert engages with his Italian heritage by being part of the Holy Cross Italian Club. As the president of the Italian Club he organizes and hosts Italian cultural events to help educate his peers on his heritage.

Growing up in New Jersey, family has always been important to Robert. He credits both his mother and his grandparents as being his greatest inspiration and in fact, it was his family that also introduced Robert to CCF and encouraged him to apply for a scholarship in his senior year of high school. Looking towards the future, Robert plans to pursue a career in international business, more specifically with a focus on European markets as he would like to incorporate his Italian language skills into his career. He also has intentions to pursue an MBA program in the future.

Congratulations, Robert on all of your successes and best of luck with your future endeavors! We here at CCF cannot wait to hear more from you in the future.

Meet Taylor Taglianetti, dual CCF Scholarship Recipient and graduating senior at NYU Tisch, New York, NY

“To be the recipient of any amount of money on good faith that it will be put to good use is so humbling, but then to know that I am one of nearly 700 students who are also receiving scholarships from CCF yearly, it’s unimaginable. I can’t think of any other foundation that gives out that many scholarships, and it just goes to show you how meaningful it is to be an Italian-American.” 

Read More About Taylor

Taylor hails from Brooklyn and is studying film and television at NYU with the goal of becoming a feature film producer. She is also a participant in the CCF Internship Program, which gives CCF scholarship students the chance to gain valuable work experience and learn from industry professionals.Taylor applied with CCF’s Internship Committee and was placed in a coveted role in the casting department of NBC, helping her see another side of the entertainment industry. 

Taylor made her debut short film, Generation Hollow, while still in high school. Produced by Reel Works, Generation Hollow was an Official Selection at the 2014 Girls Film Festival and the Juror’s Choice for Outstanding Filmmaking at the 2014 Women of African Descent Film Festival. Taylor also interned at two production companies, Maven Pictures and Silver Pictures, while in college. Feeling that Italian Americans were lacking a network in the entertainment industry, Taylor created The National Organization of Italian Americans in Film & Television (NOIAFT), with the mission to connect and empower Italian-Americans to achieve their goals in the film and television industries. NOIAFT’s social media is becoming the premier source for Italian and Italian-American entertainment news, and the organization is growing rapidly in size and scope.”

Taylor hopes to one day to launch her own production company or be a supplier of content to a major studio or streaming service. She’s passionate that stories can change the world and looks forward to combining her business and creative senses to give artists what they need to realize their visions. Always wanting to do more, and through her work at NOIAFT, Taylor promised herself that she would help Italian-Americans in the entertainment industry if she ever became successful in the business saying, “it’s the least I could do considering the impact the scholarship made on my life.”

Cheers to you, Taylor on all your success and we cannot wait to see one of your films in the future!

Meet Anthony Cerulli, CCF Scholarship Recipient and senior at Xaverian High School, Brooklyn, NY

“This scholarship has helped my family tremendously in not only paying for my high school experience, but also allowing for my sister to graduate Pace University this past spring. I look forward to continuing my academic career through the completion of my time at Xaverian High School this May with the help of the Columbus Citizens Foundation Scholarship, just as it has supported me for these past three years.”

Read More About Anthony

Maintaining a 94 GPA, taking AP classes, all while participating in multiple clubs and teams at a top Catholic high school is no small feat, but Anthony Cerulli takes pride in his various roles at Xaverian High School. Giving back is also important to Anthony. Through his work with Campus Ministry, he guides rising freshmen around the building through the “Clipper for a Day” program and volunteers at various school events throughout the year, including the annual open house.

Making the most of summer 2019, Anthony worked as a camp counselor for the summer program held at St. Finbar Catholic Church in Brooklyn, which is organized by the Federation of Italian-American Organizations and he completed an internship at Cine Magic Riverfront Studios in Brooklyn. Anthony’s post-high school goal is to pursue a degree in media and communications, so he plans to stay in New York City where there are a lot of opportunities for internships and other learning experiences within the field.

Crediting CCF with allowing him to attend Xaverian High School, Anthony was overjoyed to continue to learn in a Catholic school environment. Anthony says his faith has been vital, since it has set a foundation for his morals and values as a person. If it had not been for the CCF scholarship, Anthony believes that he would not have been able to gain an excellent faith-based education, nor have had so many amazing teachers as role models. He also feels that being in an environment that strengthens his passion in creating different forms of art is preparing him for college and the future. 

We look forward to hearing more from Anthony in the future and hopes he enjoys the rest of his senior year at Xaverian!