Applying for college can be an exciting yet stressful time for students and their parents. In many cases, financial burdens can – and do – unfortunately hold students back from success.
However, for some students these obstacles can be avoided. The recipients of the Mancuso English, Humanities, and Social & Behavioral Sciences Scholarships receive full rides to Framingham State, all expenses paid.
Halcyon Mancuso, director of The Mancuso Center, stressed that she wanted to design a center and a scholarship program to help students who may be facing financial burdens to get the “full college experience.”
Mancuso funds the Mancuso Humanities Workforce Preparation Center, as well as the scholarship program. As the donor, she has no say in who is chosen to receive the scholarships. She said Director of Undergraduate Admissions Shayna Eddy “markets the scholarship program and directs students to the page where they can find the application as well as the two recommendation forms they need to have filled out.”
Scholarships are awarded each year to one English major and one humanities major. The recipients must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher, hold two “meaningful” internships over the four years, and follow the Career Services and Employer Relations four-year curriculum put together by Dawn Ross, according to Mancuso.
Mancuso described the scholarship program as being broken up into different tasks for each year. She said the first year is for “getting to know yourself.” This translates to attending a certain number of career events, finding a career counselor to meet with regularly, designing a “beginners” resume, writing a 30-second “elavator speech,” and more.
In their first year, Mancuso said the scholars also need to join the “Suitable Solutions” program, which “is a professional career-based program where you learn about some of the niceties and professionalism within a career.”
Something that has been difficult to accomplish due to the pandemic is fulfilling the extracurricular requirement that comes with being a scholarship recipient. All scholars must participate in at least one extracurricular activity each semester they’re enrolled at Framingham State.
Mancuso said, “It has been a challenge [as a result of the pandemic], I will admit. So I give a lot of credit to the students.” She added at the end of each year, students must create a “very detailed reflection piece.”
Mancuso said these reflection pieces differ from year to year based on the students’ experiences. The reflections must include: “their growth as a student in academics, growth in extracurriculars, growth in career prep, and personal growth.”
Currently, four student scholars are enrolled in the scholarship program. This number will go up to six by the Fall 2021 semester and two students will be added each year after. This will ultimately result in eight scholars enrolled at all times.
Each year, applications are due by Feb. 15 and students are notified by early April.
First-year scholarship recipient Haley Hadge described the application process as “professional and thoughtful.” Hadge added that she “saw the application process as an honor and opportunity, one that [she] fully embraced.”
Hadge, who is a staff writer for The Gatepost, a member of IGNITE, and a member of The Onyx, said, receiving the phone call with the good news that she was one of the lucky recipients of this scholarship was “outstanding.
“My dad answered the phone and I heard, ‘Oh my God.’ Joy, happiness, and all the hard work in high school flowed through my mind as Professor Mancuso introduced herself to me and welcomed me to her program. Perhaps the best day of my high school career!”
As mentioned previously, financial burdens are no joke when it comes to college and the debt that typically follows. This isn’t a worry for the Mancuso scholars.
Hadge said, “Opportunities such as taking summer classes, fascinating internships, and going on to earn my master’s and hopefully a Ph.D. are now tangible. Critically, the scholarship allows me to be ‘all in’ on my course work and community participation like working at the FSU student newspaper, The Gatepost.
“This scholarship has allowed me to increase my center of influence, build relationships with brilliant cohorts, and actualize more of my community and personal goals than I thought possible,” Hadge said.
“I am very grateful to ease the otherwise constant strain of financial pressure. My gratitude to Professor Mancuso is immense,” she added.
Sophomore scholarship recipient Olivia Renda agreed that the financial assistance is a huge stress relief.
Renda said having a full ride to FSU “literally saved [her] life.
“I was able to not have to go home every weekend to work, I can live in suites like Miles Bibb Hall, I can play soccer for the school which I wouldn’t have been able to do without the scholarship because I’d have to focus a lot of energy and time trying to make money to afford college,” she said.
Renda, who is an editor for The Onyx as well as a student-athlete, added that her experience working with Mancuso has been excellent.
“I love working with Professor Mancuso. She is amazing. She is more than just involved in making sure we fulfill our scholarship requirements,” Renda said.
“She is very involved in our lives personally. If we ever want to reach out to her, we have that option. Last year, she even helped me go over some creative writing pieces I was thinking of submitting to The Onyx. She helped me to edit them, and that wasn’t something that was required for my scholarship, but she just wanted to be helpful and involved,” she added.
Another first-year scholarship recipient, Nicolle Fernandez said, “Had I not received the Mancuso Scholarship, I’m not sure what exactly I would be doing – probably at a community college and still living at home.
“However, the scholarship allowed me to have the opportunity to branch out and actually live on campus, especially at a time when many students could not afford to do so,” she added. “I cannot express my gratitude enough that I was given an opportunity to further my education at a great school and live the college experience.”
Like Renda, Fernandez is also a member of IGNITE, but said her path to finding a club she enjoyed was a tad more challenging.
She said, “I will say that given the circumstances of the pandemic, it was a little difficult to find a club that was the right fit for me. The first semester I tried out the Wildlife Club which was a very interesting and fun club. This semester I joined the IGNITE club where their mission is to get more young women involved in politics. As a political science major with a concentration in pre-law, it’s a perfect fit for me and is a club I plan on staying in.”
Mancuso said the skills learned throughout college and as a part of the scholarship program are, “skills that employers are looking for. The program helps students to establish their critical thinking, empathy, ethical judgement, and teamwork.”
For more information about The Mancuso Scholarship Program, visit the website to learn more about FSU’s current scholars and how to apply: https://www.framingham.edu/the-fsu-difference/centers-and-institutes/mancuso-humanities-workforce-preparation-center/
[Editor’s Note: Haley Hadge is a staff writer for The Gatepost.]