Stow Resident, Greszczuk, Awarded First 2015 Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship


Will Attend University of Delaware to Study English, Psychology;
Pursue a Master’s in Education

(ANDOVER, Massachusetts)-Tom, Peggie, Dan and Laura Ritzer announced this evening at a Senior Awards Night this year’s first recipient of a 2015 Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship. Following a review by the scholarship committee, the family has awarded a Scholarship to Nashoba Regional High School graduating senior, Clara Greszczuk.

This year’s first scholarship was awarded to Clara M. Greszczuk, who will attend the University of Delaware in the fall where she will major in education and study English and psychology. Her post-undergraduate plans include pursuit of a Master’s in Education with a desire to teach, like Colleen, at the high school level. In the coming weeks, the family will announce a total of $16,000 in scholarships for Andover and Danvers graduating seniors.

“Our family continues to be touched and strengthened by the many stories friends and strangers have shared about the difference Colleen made in their lives, and the lives of her students,” said the Ritzer Family. “This scholarship fund enables Colleen’s spirit to continue to make a difference as a new generation of teachers is provided financial assistance so that they, too, can pursue their passion for teaching. We are grateful to the many individuals and organizations who continue to support the scholarship fund as they provide critical resources to help form a new generation of caring and compassionate teachers who will be dedicated to their students’ personal and academic success.”

Applicants were required to complete an application that requested information such as extra-curricular activities, awards and recognitions and plans for college.  They were also asked to submit a 500-word essay describing why they plan to pursue a degree in education and what or who has inspired them. The last piece of the application encouraged applicants to reflect on words shared by Colleen in her college essay in which she wrote:

            “Teachers have been an inspiration to me ever since I was just a young girl. Starting in pre-school, I knew I loved helping the teachers and would one day want to be just like them. My dream is to become a teacher, one who shapes the minds and lives of children. My goal has always been to become a teacher that will impact students’ lives.” 

Greszczuk participated in a number of extra-curricular activities while a student at Nashoba Regional High. These include: field hockey team, peer tutoring, stage manager for theatrical performances, ReACT Theatre Camp, ski team, student ambassador and student advisory council. She also helped to organize blood drives and served as a counselor at Camp Sunshine, a camp in Maine that provides respite for children with life-threatening illnesses.

She also amassed an impressive number of awards and recognitions as a student: Achievement in Latin Award, Justice in Law Award and the Pre-Calculus Award. During her junior and senior years, she was a member of the National Honor Society, a recognition of her academic achievements.

“I would like to infect students with my enthusiasm for reading and the English language and inspire students to write well in the way that my teachers did for me,” wrote Greszczuk in her application. “Another goal I have for college and beyond is to continue doing community service work, whether that be peer tutoring or helping out at a food pantry. This will help me become part of the community and meet amazing people.”

The scholarship fund is supported by individual donations that were made in the wake of Colleen’s passing in October 2013 as well as the Step Up for Colleen Ritzer 5K and other tribute events held to honor Colleen’s memory. The scholarship fund is a permanent tribute to Colleen and builds upon her legacy by helping future teachers obtain a college degree so that they too can share their passion for teaching with future students.

Eligible applicants must be Andover or Danvers High School seniors who plan to pursue a degree in the field of education at an accredited four-year college or university.   (This year, the family extended eligibility to Nashoba Regional High School; Colleen taught at Hale Middle School in Stow after college. The students she taught are now in the high school. This award was given in memory of Michelle Farnsworth, a Nashoba Regional High student who lost her battle with cancer in 2015.) Guidance counselors encouraged well-rounded students who plan to major in education or a specific subject (i.e. math, science, etc.) with a concentration in education to apply for a competitive scholarship.

Applications that met eligibility requirements were reviewed by a selection committee comprised of family members and educators including: Tom Ritzer, Colleen’s Dad; Peggie Ritzer, Colleen’s Mom; Susan Craig, Colleen’s Aunt; Todd Butterworth and Sarah Giaquinta, Danvers High School Math Teachers; Kimberly Bergey, Andover High School Guidance Counselor; and Kimberly Rocha, Nashoba Regional High School English Teacher.

The Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Fund is held at the Essex County Community Foundation.