34th Annual Awards Dinner Recap
Tri-County Scholarship Fund celebrated 34 years of “Freedom Through Education” at its 34th annual awards dinner on October 19th. The event raised $ 730,000 for students in grades K-12 who live in Morris, Passaic and Sussex counties. This income enables 500 financially challenged children to attend private and parochial schools in the area.
The Hanover Marriott in Whippany was host to more than 400 guests. The honorees were Vaughn and Marnie McKoy of New Brunswick, B.J. Agugliaro of Basking Ridge and Brian Gragnolati of Mendham. McKoy is Managing Director of PSEG, Long Island; Mrs. McKoy is the Director of Human Resources for the New Brunswick School District; Agugliaro is the Managing Partner—New Jersey—for PwC and Gragnolati is the President and CEO of Atlantic Health. The honorees, despite their varied professional careers, were laser-focused on one key value in their remarks: the critical importance of providing children of need with the tools for personal, educational and professional success.
In a novel use of technology, nine former scholarship recipients spoke to the crowded via pre-recorded “selfies.” From a professor of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins to a pediatric emergency room physician to the head of Human Resources for Con Agra to a recently hired accountant at Chubb, these professionals spoke eloquently of the opportunities they were able to pursue because of the Tri-County scholarships they received in primary and secondary school. The other selfies were from a set of Tri-County alumni currently studying at Cornell, Georgetown, Seton Hall and the Trier honors College at Penn State. They, too, spoke of the game-changing impact that a tri-County scholarship made in their lives.
A highlight of the night was the speaker chosen from among the several high schools that nominated their top students to address the gathering. Nick Smith, a senior from De Paul Catholic High School in Wayne was chosen to speak as well as to represent the 500 children each year who receive Tri-County Scholarships. Nick held the room speechless as told the story of growing up in a single parent family, ending with these stirring words:
“Tri-County Scholarship Fund gave me an opportunity that changed my life completely. There is no way I will ever be able to truly explain how grateful I am to you for giving me, and other young men and women with similar struggles, this amazing opportunity, but I know where I could start…I would like you all to know that because of your faith and support in me, I am going to be very successful in the future. That may sound a little over-confident but I know in my heart I will and then I will come back to these dinners not only as a former scholarship recipient, but also as a huge donor and contributor to the Tri-County Scholarship Fund. I want to make sure that I can help as many kids as I can receive the same blessing I received from Tri-County. Thank you Tri-County. Thank you DePaul Catholic. Thank you mom. And thank you all…for changing my life.”