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2011Giddings Foundation
Scholarship Recipients

The Alice and Murray Giddings Foundation announced a total of nine Giddings Foundation Scholarships for 2011. Awards to eight 2011 Scholars were announced in May 2011. In December 2011, alternate Giddings Scholar Taylor Wenk was chosen to receive a Foundation Scholarship as well. Each 2011 scholarship recipient is eligible to receive $5000 toward the cost of post secondary education certificate or degree. The 2011 Giddings Foundation Scholars are:

Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson, the daughter of David Anderson of Hillsdale, will graduate from Taconic Hills High School. She will enroll in Individual Studies at Columbia Greene Community College. Sarah has been on Honor Roll and High Honor Roll throughout her high school career; she is a member of the National Honor Society. Sarah participated in the Euro Challenge debating competition, where she was required to make a presentation that addressed international finances. She was a member of the JV and Varsity Volleyball teams at Taconic Hills, and won the Sportsmanship award in Volleyball. For two summers, Sarah participated as a child care provider for the Taconic Hills Summer Enrichment Program for pre-Kindergarten children, which focuses on successful transitioning to school. She was also a mentor and worked one-on-one with elementary school students. Her other volunteer / service work has included nursing home visits and involvement in various community events through the NHS. She is a Blood Donor for the American Red Cross. She has been employed part time as a waitress and babysitter for local families. In spite of significant personal and family challenges in the past two years, including the sudden loss of her mother, Sarah has persisted and excelled in her many endeavors.

Ryan Behrens

Ryan Behrens, son of Michael and Abby Behrens of Chatham, will graduate in the top 15% of his class at Chatham High School. He is planning to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. Ryan has been involved in numerous school and community service activities during his high school career. He has been a member and President of SADD and a founding member of the Yellow Ribbon (Suicide Prevention) Club at CHS. He participated in the Ecology Club, International Club, and Outdoor Recreational Club, and was selected to train with the National Coalition Building Institute, which addresses issues of discrimination, bullying, and intolerance. He also attended the Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership Seminar and Boys' State. Ryan has participated and excelled in many sports, including track, soccer, football and volleyball. He also has been a member of the All State Band, All County Jazz Band. His community / volunteer involvement has included work with St. James Church, Habitat for Humanity, Sean's Run, the Ghent Band and a local Civil War Band. Recent awards have included the George Eastman Youth Leaders Award, the Jean M. Coon Humanitarian Award, and the Martin Luther King & Coretta Scott King Nonviolent Social Change Courage Award. He has been employed part time in construction work and grounds keeping in the local community.

Shahidul Bhuiyan

Shahidul Bhuiyan, a member of the class of 2011 of Hudson High School, is the son of Nurul Bhuiyan and Nazma Akter of Hudson, NY. He will attend Syracuse University in the fall, where he plans to study Engineering. Ranked third in his class, Shahidul is currently enrolled in the Math-Engineering-Technology-Science New Visions program at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Shahidul has been an active member of the Islamic community in Hudson where he was a founding member of the Muslim Youth group in the summer of 2008; he volunteers weekly to provide religious tutoring to younger members of the community. Shahidul is fluent in Bengali, English, and Spanish. He has also been a dedicated volunteer with Habitat for Humanity since 2008. At Hudson High School Shahidul has participated on the Varsity Basketball and Soccer teams. He is a member of the National Honor Society and the school newspaper staff, and participated in Mock Trial. Some of Shahidul's recent honors are the Society for Manufacturing Engineering Award from RPI and his designation as a Multicultural Achiever by the University at Albany. Shahidul is currently employed part-time at Kennedy's Fried Chicken in Hudson.

Brianne Cidras

Brianne Cidras, daughter of Anthony and Heidi Cidras of Germantown, NY is completing the two year Culinary Arts Program at the Questar III Columbia-Greene Educational Center. A member of the Germantown Central High School Class of 2011, Brianne has been on Honor Roll and High Honor Roll throughout her high school career. She will continue her studies in Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. Brianne credits the Questar III Culinary Arts Program with introducing her to the activities that have helped her gain and build upon her social and leadership skills. A member of Skills USA and its current treasurer, Brianne has volunteered with other Questar students to cater multiple school and community events at Questar III. On March 11 she competed in the Pro-start Culinary Competition at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. A longstanding member and current President of her 4-H club, she has shown animals annually at the Dutchess County Fair. Brianne has also been active in SADD, the "Safe Talk" Suicide Awareness Program, the International Club, and the Germantown High School Student Teacher Club. She has participated in many church activities at Holy Trinity Parish, Resurrection Worship Site, from which she was selected to attend the Christian Leadership Institute of the Albany Diocese. She was employed part time as a Germantown Camp Counselor in 2010, and provides babysitting services.

Michael F. Gavrity

Michael F. Gavrity, the son of Paul and JoAnn Gavrity of New Lebanon, ranks in the top quarter of the 2011 graduating class at New Lebanon High School. He plans to study Physics at SUNY Plattsburgh in the fall. Michael is a member of the National Honor Society and has participated on both the Varsity Soccer and Basketball teams for his high school years at New Lebanon; he was Co-Captain of the Soccer Team in his Junior and Senior years, and Captain of the Basketball Team in his Senior year. Michael has also been active in several premier soccer leagues including the Berkshire Ajax and the Westenhook-Maple League. Michael is a long standing weekly volunteer at the Town Library; and volunteered for two seasons with the Youth Summer Basketball program in his community. Some of Michael's recent honors include being awarded the George Eastman Young Leaders Award from the University of Rochester and the Shirley Hockett Scholarship from Ithaca College. Outside of school Michael worked as a Soccer Coach at the Williams College Soccer Academy; he has worked part-time at the Berkshire County ARC since summer 2010, and seasonally at the Churchill Bed and Breakfast.

Harika Kunchala

Harika Kunchala, member of the class of 2011 at Ichabod Crane High School, is the daughter of Paramesh and Padmaja Kunchala of Valatie, NY. She ranks in the top 10% of her class, and plans to attend the University of Rochester where she will study Biomedical Sciences with a major in Genetic Engineering. During her high school years she has held a number of leadership positions. She regularly served on the Student Council, as a representative and Student Council Vice-President; she is currently Student Council President. In addition, Harika has been class treasurer and Vice President of the National Honor Society. Her wealth of volunteer activities includes work with the Kinderhook Memorial Library, Habitat for Humanity, the Equinox Soup Kitchen and the Hindu Temple. She has been a member of the ICCS Varsity Tennis team for four years, and participated in local fundraisers for various causes. In pursuing her passion for science Harika had the opportunity to shadow a pathologist. Her work experience includes employment at the Valatie Medical Arts building. Harika has received a number of honors among them are the Hugh O'Brian Youth Leadership Award, the 2010 AP Scholar Award, and the University of Albany's Multicultural Achiever Award.

Joshua Palmer

Joshua Palmer, son of Cheryl Palmer of Elizaville and Timothy Palmer of Clifton Park, is the Salutatorian of his class at Germantown Central School. He will attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts in the fall. He hopes to major in Biochemistry and minor in Music Theory and Composition.Joshua has participated in a variety of activities during his high school career. He has been consistently involved in musical and dramatic endeavors at GCS, including band, chorus, and vocal instrumental jazz band for periods of time. He has regularly been a member of All County Chorus and Band, performed in drama productions, and is currently Vice President of the Drama Club. He has been Class Treasurer for five years. He was a member of the Varsity Cross Country team for two years, and the Varsity Volleyball team in his Junior year. His volunteer work has included time with Habitat for Humanity, the Skye Farm Summer Camp, and the Albany Regional Food Bank. He has done fundraising through the MS Walk, Relay for Life, and the Germantown Student Education Foundation. Some of his awards include the Hugh O'Brien Leadership award, Air Force Recruiting Service Mathematics and Science Award, the RPI Medal Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement, and the RIT Innovation and Creativity Award.

Cameron Wheeler

Cameron Wheeler, son of Lance and Gail Wheeler of Hudson, NY will graduate in the top 10% of his class at Taconic Hills High School. He has served as President of the Class of 2011 each of his four years at Taconic Hills High School. In that capacity he has organized and led his classmates in many class fund raising events over four years. A recipient of the Rotary Youth Leadership Award, he has also volunteered for the Salvation Army, CROP WALK and initiated a school wide fund raiser with the Haitian organization Cote-de-Fer for Haitian relief. At Taconic Hills Cameron has served as Captain of the Varsity Soccer Team, was named MVP for Varsity Tennis and has played with the high school concert band. In his junior year, he was inducted into the National Honor Society. As a community service, he has also worked on the production of televised public service announcements for the Taconic Hills Friends of Shakespeare and the Hudson Area Library. In addition to these and other volunteer and service activities, Cameron has worked part-time throughout his high school years as Youth Counselor, Youth Ski Instructor, landscaper / gardener, and babysitter. Cam will continue his studies at St. Lawrence University where he was admitted as a University Scholar through the University's Early Decision Program.

Taylor Wenk

Taylor Wenk is the daughter of George and Lisa Wenk of Spencertown, NY. A 2011 graduate of Chatham High School, Taylor was awarded a Giddings Scholarship in December 2011. She began her sophomore year at Ithaca College in fall 2012. Taylor held various supporting and leadership positions throughout her high school career. As a graduating senior from Chatham, Taylor won several scholarships given by local organizations, the Leadership Award from Chatham High School, and the Knights of Pythias Achievement Award. After a competitive interview process, Taylor was selected as the first Student Representative on the Chatham District's Board of Education. Concurrently, she was an active member and secretary of Student Government, and served as liaison between the student body and the Board of Education. She was a member of the District's Strategic Planning Team from seventh grade and maintained that involvement throughout her high school career. Other school based commitments included her membership on the Varsity Soccer Team for four years; she served as Team Captain as a Senior and she was also on the Track & Field Team. She was Editor for the CHS Literary Magazine during her Junior and Senior years; and served on the Yearbook Committee. She was a member of the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Team. She volunteered as a Teacher's Aide in the Chatham Kindergarten for her sophomore year.Some of Taylor's other volunteer and community experience included participation as a competitor and volunteer work to support Sean's Run, a local event that raises awareness of the dangers of drunk driving; and regular involvement as a volunteer at her local firehouse in Spencertown, NY. During her high school career, she was employed as a Snowboard Instructor at Jiminy Peak Resort, a Program Counselor for Spencertown Austerlitz Recreation Program, a lifeguard at a local swimming facility, and as a babysitter for several local families.

Reception 2011

Shahidul Bhuiyan, Ryan Behrens, Brianne Cidras, Harika Kunchala, Josh Palmer, Sarah Anderson, Cameron Wheeler (Michael Gavrity and Taylor Wenk not attending
Father Lee - presenting scholarships • Bina Evans - welcoming guests

The annual Giddings Scholarship Awards reception was held in June 2011; scholarship recipients, as well as their families and friends were invited. Several former recipients of Giddings Scholarships were in attendance as well; and spoke about their accomplishments since high school graduation. Speakers include:

Victoria Lipsky (2010; Ichabod Crane), Morgan Libruk (2009; Hudson);
Ryan Nightingale (2009, Chatham); Morganne Wheeler (2006, Taconic Hills)

Tara Libruk(2003, Hudson), the newest Giddings Board member, welcomed the 2011 recipients and their guests. Her comments are included here:

Good afternoon to all of you.  I'd like to welcome you to the 2011 Alice & Murray Giddings Foundation scholarship ceremony.

My name is Tara Libruk.  I sat where each of you are sitting only eight years ago, as I was the Giddings scholarship recipient from Hudson High School in 2003.  Where did the last 8 years go??  Looking back, I can tell you they've been a very busy, but rewarding 8 years - filled with continued hard work, dedication, and what now seems like endless possibilities.  I remember my stepfather saying to me, "T, you have the world at your feet, to do what you want with" - and he turned out to be right.  After graduating from Hudson High School in 2003, I attended Ithaca College, where I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Sciences in 2006.  I then completed my graduate education at Albany Medical College, where I received a Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies in May of 2009.  For the past two years, I have been working as a Physician Assistant in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Albany Medical Center.  The professional organizations of which I am an active member include the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the Association of Physician Assistants in Cardiovascular Surgery.  Last year, I became a member of the Advisory Committee for the Physician Assistant Program at Albany Medical College.  Last but not least, and perhaps most relevant to today, I proudly stand here as the newest board member of the Alice & Murray Giddings Foundation.

This year, I had the great honor of participating in the selection process that has brought each of you here today.  I am still so very impressed and amazed at how bright, dedicated, and talented each of you are.   You should be so proud of your accomplishments thus far, and I urge you to continue your journeys conducting yourselves in all the ways you have done so far.  Continue to work hard and follow your dreams.  Be confident.  Persevere.  Be compassionate.  And while you are out there helping others, don't forget to take care of yourself as well.  The world truly is at your feet, now and for the rest of your lives, to do whatever it is you put your mind to doing.  Your possibilities are endless, and we at the Giddings Foundation look forward to hearing about your continued successes in the years to come.

Congratulations to all of you, and best of luck in all of your future endeavors.

Tara Libruk and sister Morgan Libruk
Kwasi Osei Kusi (friend and colleague of Morganne Wheeler), Morganne Wheeler; Cameron Wheeler (2011 recipient)

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