Elizabeth Pugliese, a recent graduate of Andover High School, is one of six people who each won a $2,500 in scholarships from UNICO of Merrimack Valley.
The local UNICO is celebrating its 23rd year as a Chapter of UNICO National and has announced that it has raised and distributed over $450,000 to local charities.
This year UNICO awarded scholarships to five high school students of Italian decent in the Merrimack Valley and one staff member from St Anne's Home in Methuen.
"We distributed over $35,000 to organizations and individuals this past year alone. Some of the local charities include: Lazarus House, Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence, COR Unum, Bellesini Academy, Esperanza Academy, Ironstone Farm, Essex Art Center, Prof. Center for Child Development, Family Services, Lawrence History Center and Foster Kids of Merrimack Valley, in additional to St. Ann's Home," UNICO President Mark Girardi said in a release.
The UNICO Scholarship program has recognized and encouraged scholastic ability and academic performance among Merrimack Valley students since its inception 23 years ago.
According to Scholarship Program Chairman and President Elect Ken DeBenedictis, "Criteria such as grade point average and standardized test scores receive point values, as well as the individual's displayed financial need. The essays are unmarked so the judges can read them with impartiality and fairness. The selection process for UNICO scholarship recipients is a detailed one, involving reviews of academic achievement, results of a personal interview and careful evaluation of the candidate's application by the Scholarship Committee."
UNICO continues to award both need-based and merit-based scholarships. "We are committed to helping those with the greatest needs and will continue to evaluate and evolve our scholarship programs to fit the economic times," says DeBenedictis in a release.
Following the scholarship ceremony, Mark Girardi inducted Ken DeBenedictis as president (2012-13) of the Merrimack Valley UNICO Chapter.