PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island Foundation is sending high
school seniors from Central, Classical, R.I. Nurses Institute and Woonsocket
high schools off to freshman year with college scholarships honoring Roger
Williams, the state’s founding father.
The four-year, renewable scholarships are through the Carter
Roger Williams Initiative, which was launched by philanthropists Letitia and
the late John Carter. The recipients from the Class of 2020 are eligible a
total of $320,000 in aid over four years.
“Each one of these students found inspiration in Roger
Williams and in turn has an inspiring story of their own to tell. It is only
because of the commitment of the Carter family that we can encourage students
and their parents to think big about their future,” said Neil D. Steinberg,
president and CEO of the Foundation.
This year’s scholarship recipients are Juliana Camarena of
Cumberland, Kamar Gure of Providence, Farzaneh Jalali of Providence, Brett Rose
of Woonsocket and David Salzillo Jr. of Providence. Camarena, Gure, Jalali and
Rose are students of
They were selected from more than 125 applicants based on
their academic achievement, financial need, appreciation for Roger Williams’
values and record of community service.
Camarena attends the R.I. Nurses Institute Middle College
Charter High School in Providence. A foster child, she will attend Curry
College and major in elementary education.
In her application, Camarena shared how she relates to Roger
“I hope to teach young students to stand up for what they
believe in, to stretch their imaginations and to create a better community. I
want my classroom to be their refuge, their sanctuary, their Providence. The
classroom and community that I aspire to build aligns with the drive that Roger
Williams had to create a community where all are welcome,” she wrote.
Jalali attends Central High School and is class
valedictorian. Born in Afghanistan, she and her family immigrated to the United
States as refugees in 2016. She volunteers at the Refugee Dream Center. Jalali
plans to attend Roger Williams University to study computer engineering.
In her application, Jalali shared what she has learned from
Roger Williams’ values.
“I related because we both had to start our life from zero,
but we never gave up on anything. We both wanted freedom in our life and
believed we could make it happen by working hard and doing what we thought was
right. Nothing could stop us from achieving our goals,” she wrote.
Rose attends Woonsocket High School, where he founded the
local chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, Jr. He is an
innovator in the face of poverty and its challenges on his family. He will
attend Wentworth Institute of Technology and study engineering.
In his application, Rose shared what he has learned from
Roger Williams’ values.
“He was a man beyond his time where he valued freedom and
the ability to express it. Roger Williams wanted to branch out and not let
society hold him fixated on the norms he was raised in. He broke from
convention so that he could live a life guided by his principles. As the
founder of what would become the state of Rhode Island, he serves as a beacon
to all of us today not only for his political leadership, but also for his
character as a human being,” wrote Rose.
Gure attends Central High School and plans to attend Salve
Regina University to pursue a career as a clinical laboratory scientist. She
and her family immigrated to the United States from Kenya in 2017 as refugees.
She volunteers at the Refugee Dream Center and received the Secretary of
State’s Civic Leadership Award.
In her application, Gure shared how she relates to Roger
“Roger Williams represents the courage to stand up for one’s
beliefs, to uphold the freedom to think and lead, and to help others. These
values are central to my life and the future ahead of me,” she wrote.
Salzillo attends Classical High School. He is captain of the
Classical Debate Team, a docent at the Stephen Hopkins House, received the
Secretary of State’s Civic Leadership Award and the Thomas Jefferson Book
Award. He was also a candidate for the 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.
He will attend Providence College.
In his application, Salzillo shared what he has learned from
Roger Williams’ values.
“He believed the greatest crime in the world is to not
develop your potential. Of all of his sayings, this is perhaps the most central
to his life and ours. If he hadn’t done that, he most likely would never have
realized what he ultimately accomplished in the name of liberty, democracy and
the advancement of mankind,” wrote Salzillo.
In addition to the scholarships, the Carter Roger Williams
Initiative hosts a website – findingrogerwilliams.com -- that offers
educational resources for students and educators and awards grants to schools
to underwrite field trips to the State House.
The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive
funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and
visionary donors, the Foundation raised $47 million and awarded a record $56
million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues
and needs of diverse communities in 2019. Through leadership, fundraising and
grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and
organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.
For more information, visit rifoundation.org.