August 08, 2018
During an evening that celebrated education, past Robert T. Kenney Scholars Malik McKinley, Iris Marte, and Ariana Molokwu shared stories about their journeys in the field of education. These three educators were the featured guest speakers at the annual American Savings Foundation scholarship reception on Wednesday, August 8 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville.
A broad-based funder, the American Savings Foundation supports students studying any major. Over the years, students have studied at more than 350 colleges and universities throughout the United States, with the majority studying in Connecticut. Each year at the reception, the Foundation highlights one career field and invites past scholars to speak about their experiences. This year’s theme was Education.
One of the featured guest speakers, Malik McKinley, is a director of client relations for Educational Testing Service. He spoke about following in the footsteps of his parents, who were both educators. He talked about his experience as a classroom teacher, and how that led him to continue his studies to earn three masters degrees. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in Education. Mr. McKinley noted that “there is not a successful person in life who hasn’t been impacted by a teacher.”
Mr. McKinley was a 1996 recipient of the scholarship. That was the first year that the American Savings Foundation awarded scholarships, and Malik was one of 13 students who received a total of $40,000. This year, the American Savings Foundation recognized 389 recipients of the Robert T. Kenney Scholarship who will receive more than $780,000 to help them achieve their dreams of a college education. This includes both first-time recipients and those receiving renewals of the scholarship.
Iris Marte talked about the impact that several teacher mentors each had on her path towards becoming a teacher. She believes that the secret to being an educator is becoming a lifelong learner. Finally, Ariana Molokwu talked about her role as a program coordinator at the Center for the Arts at Wesleyan University. She advised students to “pay attention to your passions, and your path will practically set itself.”
“We see this as a long-term investment in our scholars. Many of our past scholars have come back to live and work in the communities we serve,” said Maria Falvo, President and CEO of the American Savings Foundation. “It’s great when past scholars come back to speak to our next generation of scholarship recipients.”
In addition to Robert T. Kenney Scholars and family members in attendance, the audience included younger students from several local youth groups, including the Boys and Girls Club of New Britain, Connecticut Junior Republic, HRA of New Britain, the New Britain Police Activity League, the New Britain Youth Museum’s Sisters in Science program, and Waterbury Youth Services. There was also a dance performance by the YWCA of New Britain School of Dance.
The scholarship program was named in memory of Robert T. Kenney, whose original vision led to the creation of the American Savings Foundation. Kenney grew up in Waterbury, and became a leader in the banking industry in Connecticut. He was chairman, president and CEO of New Britain-based American Savings Bank from 1991-2003. It was under his leadership that the American Savings Foundation was established in 1995. Mr. Kenney believed strongly in helping to make a college education more affordable for the next generations of leaders.