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2009Giddings Foundation
Scholarship Recipients

The Alice and Murray Giddings Foundation of Columbia County selected seven Giddings Scholarship recipients for 2009; each will receive a $5000.00 scholarship directly applicable to college coursework. The Foundation scholarships acknowledge and support graduating high school seniors from Columbia County public schools. Scholarship recipients have evidenced strong leadership qualities and involvement in service to their schools and communities; and have maintained a GPA of 85% or higher.

The Giddings Foundation was founded in 1995 by Alice Giddings, who was involved in education throughout her professional career. Since the Foundation's inception, well over half a million dollars have been awarded to deserving students in Columbia County, and supported students' higher education pursuits at over 35 colleges and universities.

The 2009 scholarship recipients will attend two or four year academic or vocational programs for the Fall 2009 semester. They are:

Zachary Baker

Zachary Baker is a 2009 graduate of Questar III and Taconic Hills Central School District. Zachary is the son of Darryl and Lucy Baker of Philmont, NY. He will be attending the Automotive Technology Degree Program at Columbia Greene Community College next year.

Zachary attends the Questar III program for Automotive Technology. His primary extracurricular activity has been his membership in the Hudson Valley Old Time Power Association. He has participated and volunteered at their numerous garden tractor pulls sponsored by this organization in Columbia and adjoining counties. He has received more than 30 awards through his participation in this organization.

Zachary has received Honor Roll and High Honor Roll Awards throughout his school career. He has also received a number of awards for Academic Excellence, Craftsmanship, and Outstanding Achievement through his school program. He has served as an informal peer tutor to students in the Questar III automotive program, and has demonstrated leadership in the classroom. Zachary has been employed in the fields of automotive repair and lawn care during his high school career. He has been a consistent and dedicated caretaker for his 84 year old grandmother, who resides with his family; he espouses strong values around his work ethic, personal integrity, and personal responsibility.

Where is he now?

College and post-graduate education

  • Associate's Degree, Department of Automotive Technology at Columbia Greene Community College (2011)
  • Obtained Certification in Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)


  • Automotive Technician at Chatham Village Auto (2010 to present)

Activities / Future Goals

Jessica T. Colon

Jessica T. Colon is a 2009 graduate of New Lebanon Jr. / Sr. High School. She is the daughter of James and Pamela Colon of Old Chatham, NY. She plans to attend Salisbury University in Maryland where she intends to pursue a degree in Secondary Education in the field of English.

Jessica is a member of the Varsity Soccer Team, Varsity Basketball Team, Varsity Track Team, Yearbook Committee, and Prom Committee. She has participated in Drama Club, SADD, Band, and Reality Check. Her volunteer and community involvements include tutoring for the past two years, National Honor Society membership, involvement in Church Youth Mission, volunteer at local nursing homes, and helping out at school basketball games. She has been employed part time in the past several years as a babysitter and a waitress at a local café.

Jessica has been a High Honors student throughout her high school career, Captain of the Soccer Team (12th grade), and of the Basketball Team (11tha and 12th grades), and a Student Council Representative for two years. She has received several Perfect Attendance Awards, Coach's Awards for Track and Basketball, and has been named a Scholar Athlete in 9th and 12th grades. She received the University of Rochester Leadership Award as a High School Junior. Teachers note her leadership skills and persistence as qualities that she brings to any endeavor.

Rachel Gellert

Rachel Gellert is a 2009 graduate of Taconic Hills Central School District. She is the daughter of Jill and William Gellert of Hillsdale, NY. Ms. Gellert plans to attend New York University, where she intends to major in Political Science, with a minor in English / Literature.

Ms. Gellert has participated in the American Legion Oratorical Contest and National Constitutional Speech Competition, Model UN, National Honor Society, and Chorus. Over her school career, she has been a member and served as captain of the Field Hockey and Track teams; and won awards for her participation in these sports. She participated in Shakespeare and Co. and the annual school musical. She has been President of her Class for three years. Her community service has included volunteer interning for Congressional candidates Kirsten Gillibrand and Scott Murphy, student mentoring at Taconic Hills, volunteer work at a local soup kitchen and not-for- profit organization Charley's Fund, and participation in local fundraisers for community causes, e.g., Sean's Run and Race for the Cure. She has served as a board member of the Hevreh Organization of Temple Youth and a member of the National Federation of Temple Youth.

Ms. Gellert has been employed as a camp counselor, ski and snowboard instructor, babysitter, religious school assistant teacher, and as an intern for the NYS Unified Court District and the Family Planning Advocates of NYS. She has won awards for oratory from the American Legion on several occasions. She is a scholar athlete and High Honor Roll student.

Morgan A. Libruk

Morgan Libruk is a 2009 graduate of Hudson High School. She is the daughter of Ann Finck and Mark Libruk of Hudson, NY. Morgan plans to attend Clarkson University where she will study biological sciences.

Morgan is in the New Visions: Scientific Research and World Health program at Questar III. She is a member of the Jazz Band, Concert Band, Concert Choir, Environmental Club, Student Council and Students Against Destructive Decisions. She has also participated in JV and Varsity Soccer and Basketball. Morgan's volunteer activities include working at the Hudson High School Craft Fair, Town of Greenport Community Day, and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

Morgan is Valedictorian of her senior class. She has received the RPI Medal Award, Rotary Youth Leadership Award, the Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony Award, and is a member of the National Honor Society. She has also received recognition awards as a scholar athlete.

Claudine Murphy

Claudine Murphy is a 2009 graduate of Ichabod Crane High School. She is the daughter of Dr. William Murphy and Sabine Murphy of Kinderhook, NY. Claudine will attend Fordham University where she plans to study International Political Economy.

Claudine has participated in the Odyssey of the Mind program for 10 years. She is Vice-President of the Student Council and Secretary of the National Coalition Building Institution. She is also a member of the Students Against Violating the Earth. Claudine is also a member of the high school band and the Varsity Tennis Team. Claudine's volunteer activities include serving as a Sunday School Teacher as well as a greeter, and alter server at her church. She has participated in the LeaderSpark leadership program and has coordinated numerous fundraisers for Doctors Without Borders, Americares, Save the Children, as well as other charities.

Claudine has won both regional and state competitions for Odyssey of the Mind. She has also received the Kiwanas Citizenship Award and the Voice of Democracy Certificate of Merit as an outstanding spokesperson for freedom.

Ryan Nightingale

Ryan Nightingale is a 2009 graduate of Chatham Central School. Ryan is the son of Virginia and Stephen Nightingale of East Chatham, NY. Ryan has been accepted early decision to Dartmouth College where he hopes to study Neuroscience with future plans to pursue a degree in medicine.

Ryan has been involved with the CCSD music program playing lead roles in "Annie Get Your Gun," "Once Upon a Mattress," "Hamlet," and "South Pacific". Ryan is President of his Senior Class and has been a member of the Cross Country Team, Track and Field Team and the Indoor Track Team. He is a member and regional leader for Reality Check, a student-run tobacco marketing awareness group. Ryan's volunteer activities include assisting with the Spencertown Academy Festival of Books and playing with the Ghent Community Band.

Ryan is a National Merit Commended student and a member of the National Honor Society. He has participated in the Earthwatch Institute-Student challenge program studying "Transient Phenomena in Astrophysics," based in Los Alamos, NM. He has received the Rotary Youth Leadership Award, the Bausch and Lomb Award for Science achievement and has been honored as a Scholar Athlete.

Michelle Zeliph

Michelle Zeliph is a 2009 graduate of Germantown Central School. She is the daughter of Eileen and Ronald Zeliph of Germantown, NY. Michelle will attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where she plans to study Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology. She hopes to pursue an advanced degree in medical research or attend pharmacy school.

Michelle has been involved in her high school band and chorus. She serves as President of both the Drama Club and the International Club. She is a member of the Emmaus Road Youth Group as well as being a Girl Scout and Varsity Cheerleader. Michelle's volunteer activities include serving as a Camp Counselor at Camp Fowler and as a Youth Spokesperson on a 10 day mission trip to Guatemala.

Michelle has received the President's Volunteer Service Award as well as the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Certificate of Recognition for completing over 100 hours of volunteer service. She is a National Young Leaders Conference Nominee and is Vice-President of Germantown's National Honor Society.

RECIPIENTS of 20182017201620152014201320122011201020092000-08