2017 Scholarship Recipients

Daniel Altamura

Stamford High School

How do you spell leadership? We spell it D-a-n-i-e-l because Daniel Altamura represents exactly that for so many. Totally immersed in all aspects Stamford, both in the community and at Stamford High School, Daniel embraces service with a determination, drive and focus so that he has a positive impact on the lives of others.

As a mentor in the Stamford Public Education Foundation, Daniel served as a role model for at-risk 5th grade students where, through workbook activities, he emphasized the importance of community service and building positive relationships. As a political intern on the Board of Education, Daniel was tasked with not only maintaining its social media outlets, but also designing and distributing materials for public displays and outreach at community events. During election seasons, he could be found at polling stations around the City communicating with the public and garnering support for the BOE. As a volunteer at Stamford Hospital, his activities ran the gamut from greeting and guiding visitors and family members through the hospital to delivering gifts and flowers to patients’ rooms to serving in Facilities Management where he invoiced repairs, organized mailings, answered phones and dispatched repair services.

That he was chosen by his peers as President of his Senior Class reflects Daniel’s gift to galvanize individuals, while raising the achievement level of all involved. This was regularly seen in how he represented his class to ensure success of its various proposed initiatives as well as in the numerous SHS activities in which he volunteered. His efforts were focused on improving school spirit and introducing the community to all that SHS has to offer. Daniel also served as the SHS student representative on the City of Stamford Governance Council where his responsibilities included multidisciplinary communica-tion among the administration, faculty, parents, community and Board of Education members on issues ranging from student achievement to school culture.

Gabrielle Baum

Academy of Information
Technology & Engineering

A rare blend of spirituality, tenacity and dedication –that’s what Gaby Baum has and uses to encourage others to become involved in our community. If you spend any time with her you cannot help but be struck by the ease and self-assurance she displays when interacting with others in her volunteerism…and you want to join her.

A long-time volunteer with The Friendship Circle, Gaby is passionate about helping children with special needs. She not only works weekly with her special friend, she also serves on TFC’s Teen Board, taking on leadership roles for events and planning programs. Her involvement and fresh ideas have enabled TFC to support a growing number of families.

Gaby’s involvement in Youth Philanthropy Connect, a youth-founded and led program that works to encourage youth philanthropy and to hone the skills of future philanthropists, led her to join its Leadership Team. She is also a member of United Jewish Federation and the Kuriansky Teen Tzedakah Corps. Additionally, Gaby has been working to create her own program, SMILE –So Much In Life (to) Enjoy. It is for local youth who want to be more involved in Stamford in a productive way. Through SMILE she engages peers to experience the benefits of giving and to feel the delight and accomplishment that come with volunteering.

In addition, Gaby is on the boards of FARE: Food Allergy Research & Education (advisory), the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team and J-Serve ’s International Day of Community Service as well as a member of B’nai Brith Youth Organization. She serves as a Student Ambassador at AITE (Academy of Information Technology & Engineering, Stamford) and is in its RSPACEE program where she teaches STEM-based courses to elementary school students. Gaby is also a National Honor Society member and tutor.

Mandy Chery

Westhill High School

That whirlwind of energy, that whoosh that just flew by…that was Mandy Chery off to one of her community services projects. In fact, Mandy has given more than 2,100 hours of service over the past few years…that equals nearly 265 eight-hour workdays!

A first-generation Haitian American, Mandy is the “go to” youth leader at the First Haitian Free Methodist Church where she inspires a sense of purpose and possibility in others. Just a few examples include being a founding member, and now co-director, of the youth choir; helping launch an outreach to youth and young adults; and being the treasurer of its youth praise dance team, where she organized bake sales and performances at community events. Mandy also chaired an innovative micro-enterprise project for the church’s young adults, sponsored by EA Rugby Design, that enabled teen congregants to learn about business while participating in sales and earning money for the Youth Ministry.

In addition to serving her congregation, Mandy has demonstrated her commitment to the larger Stamford community, pouring endless energy into other organizations. During her work with Future 5, a nonprofit that helps motivated, low-income high school students to fill their potential, she served as an official Student Ambassador, assisting peers through the college process, co-hosting open houses for volunteers and donors, and coaching for its job preparatory program. Also, through Future 5 projects, Mandy mentored elementary school students at the Boys and Girls Club, planted and weeded at Mill River Park, and worked at Neighbors Link’s café. She has served on the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council, was a mentor at Roxbury School for the Stamford Public Education Foundation and vice president of Westhill’s BuildOn chapter. Mandy has volunteered with Best Buddies, Inspirica as well as with Person-to-Person and the Quisqueya Summer Camp at St. John’s Episcopal Church. How she also found time to run track and be a shot putter at Westhill remains a mystery!

Andrea Vega

Westhill High School

An Inspiration. An advocate. A motivator. A teacher. These are just a few of the words that describe the many hats Andrea Vega wears wherever she goes in Stamford.

Andrea’s work with Neighbors Link Stamford demonstrates her unique talents. NLS is a nonprofit community center on the west side of the city whose mission is to strengthen the whole community by actively enhancing the healthy integration of immigrants. With her native Spanish language skills, passion to help her community and ability to seize an opportunity, she has become an integral part of NLS’s teaching large ELS (English as a second language) classes and tutoring small groups. And she does this, and more, on weekdays after school, evenings and weekends. Andrea’s success with children, peers and adult learners has been incredible.

In addition to NLS, Andrea is involved with Westhill High School’s ALTA (Aspiring Leadership Through Action) an after-school and Saturday program for students, with a focus on Spanish-speaking students, to provide high-quality coaching and mentoring to prepare them for success in high school and college. At ALTA she participated weekly, and was recognized for her leadership there, becoming a tutor and translator for the program. She also tutors in the school’s Success Program, has served as a WHS Latino Ambassador, is a member of its BuildOn and Future 5 chapters, and its music band, playing the guitar. Additionally, Andrea is a reporter for WHS’ school paper, The Westword, and a youth board member and volunteer on WHS’ New Paradigm Theater.

Andrea is also a volunteer at Person-to-Person and Domus, translating at both and administering at the former for its food bank and clothing store; a teacher’s assistant at SoundWaters; and a choir assistant and guitar player at Sacred Heart Church. All in all, Andrea’s love of what she does is infectious as seen by the results across the City.

Justin Wexler

Stamford High School

Passionate. Authentic. Giving. In short, a mensch. This describes Justin Wexler perfectly. For those of you not familiar with what it means to be a mensch, it is to be someone of integrity who helps others, does the right thing the right way, acts with conviction, is a peacemaker and always strives to be a better person.

Justin was selected by Stamford High School’s vice principal and dean of students to be a founding member of the SHS Leadership Academy where he mentored freshmen, advised on how to be successful in high school, encouraged under classmates to participate in school government and policies, as well as community and school events. One of two students appointed from the Class of 2017 to SHS’s Athletic Council Board, Justin helped organize and execute schoolwide fundraisers and events, such as the Pink Out, which raised more than $16,000 for breast cancer organizations. He also was elected by his peers to serve on the school’s Executive Board, also leading events that have raised thousands of dollars.

Justin has been an active leader and volunteer at the Stamford Jewish Community Center, most notably in its Macaabi Games & ArtsFest. (Olympic-style sporting competitions held each summer in North America and the second largest organized sports program for Jewish teenagers in the world.) A veteran participant, Justin served as Teen Council Representative, recruiting and promoting engagement, providing counsel to professional staff and volunteers, and serving during the events as part of the Operations team for the 1,500 teens competing. During his many years of membership with the Stamford chapter of B’Nai Brith Youth Organization, Justin has been active in local, regional and international programming as well as being on the chapter’s Leadership Board. In addition, since his junior year, Justin has been its treasurer, leading fundraising initiatives that showcased his dedication and spirit.