After Cory’s father died in 2006, finances grew tight. His mother worked hard to support Cory, and 2 younger sons. He worked as a landscaper each summer, never forgetting his dad’s own work ethic.
Cory knew that his life in Westport was different from that of most friends. But he felt special, with a sense of purpose. “My father always said, ‘You can count on Cory,'” he explained. “It’s my goal to live up to that standard for the rest of my life.
Cory now attends the University of Connecticut, studying to become a landscape architect.
TJ, meanwhile, attended Westport schools just like his parents. After Staples he took part-time liberal arts classes at Norwalk Community College, while working in trades like plumbing, carpentry and HVAC.
He enrolled at Parsons School of Design at 23, when he had skills, maturity and appreciation for academics he lacked earlier. He will graduate this May, with a BFA in architectural design, and plans to pursue a masters degree in architecture. He’s fully self-supporting; his father, a contractor, was hit with enormous medical bills during TJ’s mother’s 8-year battle with cancer that ended last May.
Marykate entered Staples in 10th grade, when she moved here (it’s her mother’s hometown). Her father had lost his job upstate; the family lost their home, and her parents divorced. The transition was not easy, but Marykate made the honor roll each year. Neither parent graduated from college, but she has a goal: to become a physical education teacher.
Asia — an Open Choice student from Bridgeport — rose at 4:30 every morning, to catch a bus to Westport schools. It took her a long time to get over feeling different, and realize she’d been given a chance for an excellent education. As the 1st person in her family to attend college, she hopes to set a good example for her 2 younger brothers. She has set her mind on becoming a pediatrician.
What ties those 4 people together — beyond their remarkable stories — is that all had a burning desire to pursue their education after Staples. All faced financial difficulties. And all were helped by Staples Tuition Grants.
Since 1943, the organization has provided college tuition assistance for Staples seniors — and after, if needed.
Last year, STG awarded $300,000 to 108 Staples graduates attending 4-year undergraduate programs, community college, technical and vocational schools. Applications for grants have risen 63 percent, in just the past 4 years.
While the scholarships — ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 — may not seem like much, they often close the financial gap that can make the difference between attending college, or not.
Staples Tuition Grants is in the midst of its final fundraising appeal for this year. It relies solely on contributions from individuals, PTAs, civic organizations, local businesses and trusts.
STG is a low-key group. But the work they do is high-powered — and life-changing.
Tax-deductible contributions may be made by clicking here, or sent to Staples HS Tuition Grants, Box 5159, Westport, CT 06880-5159.