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Two outstanding New Haven Promise graduates — Odia Kane and Rigoberto Escalera — will be receiving the Legacy Award, the longest-standing honor bestowed by Promise, which annually rewards recent graduates who have demonstrated a deep commitment to their studies, fellow scholars and the City of New Haven. They will be honored at the 9th Annual New Haven Promise Scholar Celebration on Thursday, August 15, at the Lyman Center on the campus of Southern Connecticut State University. The event is free and open to the public.
Kane began her deep relationship with New Haven Promise before she ever earned the scholarship, serving as a volunteer when Promise hosted a national conference in the fall of her senior year at the Engineering & Science University Magnet School (ESUMS). She then began to work at Promise headquarters before heading to the University of Connecticut.
Once there, the Honors Scholar made the Dean’s List every semester while majoring in both cognitive science and political science. But she also played a significant role for Promise as the program’s ambassador for the ever-growing contingent at the Storrs campus. She has long been the “go-to” person for New Haven Promise scholars looking for comfort or answers.
“For me, being a Promise Scholar means having a family, city and university unconditionally support you. I am constantly reassured with these three pillars behind me, nothing I want to do in life is unreachable,” she said. “Throughout my life, I have been a product of successful partnerships. The one between New Haven Promise and UConn has been the most important, to date. Together, I’ve been able to lead, learn and critically — graduate loan-free.”
In addition to working for Promise, she also served summer internships at the University of Washington and at Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence. She was also a writing fellow at the UConn Writing Center, often working with New Haveners.
Odia was chosen as the student speaker at UConn’s largest graduation ceremony this spring and she will be completing her master’s in public health next May.
Like Odia, from the moment Rigoberto Escalera touched down as a first-year student at Southern Connecticut State University, he was very consistent… and consistently good. A product of Metropolitan Business Academy, he majored in business administration at SCSU, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree cum laude. He is the first Southern student to earn the Legacy Award.
But he was also a star outside the classroom, where he served as a youth educator with Solar Youth, including the design of environmental education curriculum while a high schooler. In college he served three summer paid internships at Yale University and also participated in a leadership program with Marcum, LLP.
“New Haven Promise helped me build a strong professional network and gain relevant work experience early in my college career,” Rigoberto said. “I had the opportunity to intern at Yale’s Controller Office — thanks to New Haven Promise — as a sophomore. With the accounting and finance skills I’ve learned through this internship, I was offered two more internships and a full-time staff accountant position by the time I graduated.”
Just this week, Rigoberto began as a staff accountant at Dworken, Hillman, LaMorte & Sterczala, P.C., in Shelton, Conn.
2014 — Priscilla Maldonado (Quinnipiac)
2015 — James Doss Gollin (Yale) & Jordy Padilla (University of New Haven)
2016 — Fontaine Chambers (UConn)
2017 — Jorgieliz Casanova (Albertus Magnus) & Lawrence McGill (ECSU)
2018 — Zaamir Ali (University of New Haven) & Jennifer Gonzalez (Yale)