Congratulations to all 2017-2018 GEJ Scholarship Recipients!

LAJF is dedicated to assisting our alumni in their pursuit of higher education, and one of the most important manifestations of this dedication is the George E. Jonas (the founder of Camp Rising Sun) Scholarship. Thanks to the generosity of the Georges Lurcy Trust and CRS alumni and friends, LAJF offers college scholarships to CRS alumni.

The scholarship is awarded every year to individuals who have been enriched by the Camp Rising Sun program and are using the values and knowledge they have acquired to help their communities in creative and exciting ways. In addition to the GEJ Scholarship, the Committee also choose one candidate to receive the Pete Seeger Scholarship, which goes to a candidate who, in addition to meeting our regular criteria, exemplifies Pete’s courage, integrity, and humanity.  

We reached out to all the 2017 recipients to find out what motivated them to apply and what the scholarship means to them. Learn more about this year’s scholarship recipients below.

Alison Masson (2011, 2012)

Alison is a Cum Laude graduate of Washington and Lee University, where she studied as a Bonner Scholar, was inducted into Pi Eta Sigma national politics honor society, and received both the Lee Massey McLaughlin Memorial Scholarship and the Omicron Delta Kappa Scholarship. Her politics seminar paper, “Rebel Songs: The vocal and prefigurative function of music in Occupy Wall Street” was published in The Stone, Washington, and Lee’s interdisciplinary academic journal.

She has worked as a teaching intern at Northfield Mount Hermon School and assisted in running a social and emotional development program for at-risk Navajo high school students, during which time she spent eight weeks living in a trailer at the Native American Baha’i Institute in Navajo Nation. She also participated in the Bonner Service Program, which employs students to take part in social justice trainings, and engage in community development. She is currently obtaining her teaching license for secondary social studies and plans to pursue a PhD in Education.

“As a recipient of the George E. Jonas scholarship, I understand with far greater clarity how LAJF generously supports and encourages us not only as campers, but also as young adults seeking ‘betterment of their communities and the world.’ This scholarship is helping me to complete my post-graduate student teaching through my undergraduate institution, Washington and Lee University, and to obtain my Virginia teaching license in secondary social studies. I am working in a seventh grade civics classroom in rural Virginia, and I have a great passion for teaching civic knowledge and skills, especially during these critical times for rural America. I hope to be working towards a Master in Education in the coming year, and I am tremendously grateful to LAJF both for supporting my personal mission financially and for allowing me to experience global citizenship and an ideal public sphere: something that I hope my future students will glimpse and desire as well.” 

Conor Sanchez (2002, 2003), the 2017-2018 Pete Seeger Scholar

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Connor holds a Bachelor’s degree in Diplomacy and World Affairs and is currently enrolled in a Masters program at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. In 2014, Connor served in the Peace Corps and now presents to high school students about his experience in Nicaragua and encourages them to join the Peace Corps. In the spirit of CRS, Connor is inspiring students to be of service to their community, and the world at large.

Since 2016, Connor has worked as the Development Director of Help Educate, an international development organization that works with local Nicaraguan leaders to provide university scholarships to high-achieving students.

“Being selected as the Pete Seeger Scholar for 2017-18 has been a tremendous help to me and my wife in my pursuit of a full-time graduate education on the east coast. Because of this support, I am able to dedicate myself to my studies at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where I am concentrating on development economics. The aid provided by CRS has significantly reduced the burden of covering the cost of tuition and books. I am especially honored to receive the Pete Seeger Scholarship and hope I can live up to the inspiring humanitarian legacy he left behind. It stands to reason why, as a camper, I enjoyed Pete's song ‘Study War No More’ so much.

Camp is the first place that granted me the courage to trust the world more and I haven’t stopped since. It’s impossible not to question whether I would have chosen my path had it not been for Camp’s emphasis on multiculturalism, compassion, and the idea of being your own sachem. As I look forward, I want to leverage this spirit for taking action by working at the intersection of development and diplomacy. I especially want to do my part by helping communities band together and avoid temptations to scapegoat, build walls, or turn inward.”

Getzamany Correa (2013)

Now a freshman at Bard, Getzamany left Atlanta to attend high school at United World College in Mostar (located in Bosnia and Herzegovina) on the Shelby David Scholarship. During time at the school, she traveled throughout the Balkans and provided meals for refugees through an NGO called Hot Food Idomeni in Belgrade. She also joined the Global Youth Advisory Council and organized school dances, blood drives, and fundraisers as a member of Student Council.

She speaks several languages (English, Spanish, and French) and is a major cinephile, having led and participated in multiple student film groups. In 2015, Getzamany took place in the seven-week Aspects of Leadership Summer Institute, held annually on the Princeton University Campus by Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA). This past summer, she took part in the Young Ambassadors Program with the Smithsonian Institution, including a week-long seminar in Washington D.C. and an internship at the Atlanta History Museum.

“By awarding me the George E. Jonas Scholarship, LAJF has lightened the financial burden of university, which allows me to focus more on my education. LAJF’s generosity since camp and onto receiving this scholarship has always encouraged me to help others and give back to the community. For these reasons I am incredibly grateful for the support I receive from the CRS community and am very lucky to be part of it.

The values of service and leadership I learned during my summers at CRS motivated me to give back to my community and create a better world for those around me. I continue to practice these values in my daily life with the initiatives I am part of and the ones I hope to be someday. Subsequently, these values have motivated me to study international relations and pursue a career in public service.”

Laurel Leggiere (2005, 2006, 2008)

Laurel’s journey with Camp Rising Sun began in 2005, when she was a fifteen-year-old living with a single mom in Poughkeepsie. She decided to apply to the camp and quickly made friends with amazing girls from all over the world, in addition to gaining leadership skills and a sense of independence. For her second-year, she attended the Stendis campus in Denmark, intent on taking care of first-year campers the way second-year campers had taken care of her.

Laurel went on to study at Vassar, and she attributes being a first-generation college student to the strength and self-esteem she gained during her time at Camp Rising Sun. She is now a Masters student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is studying to become a social worker. She plans to work at non-profits and outpatient treatment centers and to hopefully open a practice of her own one day as a clinical child and family therapist.

“Getting financial aid from the CRS community means that I will be able to pursue my MSW degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ultimately, I will become an LCSW and work with children and families who have experienced trauma. Getting a master's degree in social work is the first step in becoming a licensed clinician who can use their expertise to further social justice in the micro (individual) and macro (societal) sphere.

Social Work resounded with me because of its strong value system and focus on the ‘whole person’ and prioritizing strengths above problems. A lot of the themes that I am finding as values and ethics of social work overlap with what I learned at CRS. The idea of ‘servant-leadership’ and active listening are important as well as more ‘big-picture’ ideas like how to create change in the social, economic and political sphere. We are given this unique opportunity to learn these values in a caring, supportive environment at such an influential age and I am proud to take what I learned to those who did not have that opportunity both in my field work with children and families in Foster Care and in the classroom.”

Connor Ausman (2013)

Connor attended Bard High School Early College Queens, where he took college-level classes like Race and Power, Method Acting, and a Sophomore Seminar in literature in which he discussed the cultural significance of works like The Iliad and Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth. He also took a pre-law class on civil rights and liberties, which allowed him to acquire a better understanding of how laws affect the political climate. As a member of Student Council, Connor organized food drives and volunteered with the homeless.

Since his time at Camp Rising Sun, Connor has worked as a camp counselor at the 92Y’s “Camp Yomi” and as a teacher’s assistant for the Drama Department at Bard Early College. In this latter capacity he has served as assistant director and stage manager, and even got the chance to build the set for the school play. He’s also volunteered at Riverdale Children’s Theater, working as a stagehand for their production of Aladdin.

“Getting financial aid from Camp Rising Sun means the world to me.  Camp Rising Sun has already given me so much, from a second home, to values that made me into the adult that I am now.  I believe that this scholarship is the camp putting their trust in me to send the message of CRS out into the world, and that I am a representative of what Camp Rising Sun has to offer.  

Camp Rising Sun has taught me that I am able to accomplish anything.  Whether it is making a treehouse, or putting on a last minute production of Into the Woods, it can be done.  Now my family is growing and changing, and the tasks have changed. I am not building a bench, I am auditioning for a Broadway musical, or working on a Netflix show, or spending hours with my scene partner, making sure that I am ready for the class the next day.  It all can seem so overwhelming, but I know I am capable of doing it, and this confidence is something that I gained from Camp Rising Sun.” 

The scholarship would also not be possible without the commitment and passion of the GEJ Scholarship Committee members. The committee, chaired by David Levine (1958, 1959), includes Eli Bromberg (1996), Inna Kuvich (2001, 2002, 2006), Alexandra Pleier (2001), John M Reilly (1997-1998), Peter Giacone (1983), and Michael Engber (1957, 1958, 2004).

David Levine writes:

"Chairing this Committee for the past six years has been a great honor.  Now, almost 60 years after my own CRS experience, I continue to see the significant, long-lasting, and deeply satisfying impact that CRS had on me, and this is a great opportunity both to give back and to facilitate the paths forward for at least a few alumni each year.  The Committee is first rate, made up of members who bring energy, intelligence and integrity to our work, and who reach consensus decisions without rancor.  We’re always taken with the impressive commitments and leadership shown by the GEJ Scholarship applicants in the years between their camp attendance and their applications, and the ambitious expectations they hold for themselves when applying.  We’d love to receive your application!"

We would like to thank everyone that applied this year and encourage all to apply next year. Read more about the Scholarship and how to apply here

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