NORWALK, Conn. -- Two graduating seniors from Norwalk high schools have been named the first recipients of the Chelsea Cohen Memorial Scholarship, which recognizes female scholar athletes.
Sarah St. Surin from Norwalk High School and Isabella Bean from Brien McMahon High School were named as the two winners, and each will receive a $2,500 grant as support for their freshman year of college this fall.
The scholarship from the Fairfield County Sports Commission is awarded to candidates who best exemplify the spirit and qualities of the late Chelsea Cohen, a graduate of Norwalk High who died in 2006 and whose name is memorialized through FCSC's annual Courage Award. Criteria for the scholarship include academic honors, participation in one or more varsity sports, community service, and displaying high levels of sportsmanship, leadership and character.
"There have been many tributes to Chelsea over the years, but this scholarship is exceptionally meaningful," said Chelsea's mother Barbara Rittner. "To recognize someone who most exemplifies Chelsea, her spirit, her drive, her accomplishments, this not only rewards the recipients but reminds us of Chelsea and why her story stays alive. The scholarship winners this year, Sarah and Bella, are remarkable young women who in addition to all their academic, civic and athletic accomplishments have that 'special spark' like Chelsea had."
In the first year of the scholarship, FCSC felt it was important to recognize a winner from both schools to have each fully engaged at the start. Going forward the scholarship amount will be raised to $5,000 for one student athlete from either NHS or BMHS.
"We believe that in taking this next step to keep Chelsea's legacy vibrant and relevant the scholarship will have a strong impact for young women in Norwalk striving to succeed in college both in the classroom and on the field of play," said FCSC Executive Director Tom Chiappetta. "Providing significant financial support to that end is another key role the Commission can play in meeting our mission and goals."
Bean, who will be attending the University of Virginia, is a four-year high honor roll student and was a two-year captain of the lacrosse team as a four-year starter and captained the soccer side her senior year. She worked at Horizons in New Canaan the last two years as a second grade tutor for the summer program there.
St. Surin, who is headed for UMass Boston, was a four-year starter for the basketball team and captain as a senior. She is also a high honors student as well as a talented musician and serves as a volunteer coach and summer counselor at the Carver Center in Norwalk.