AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR POLISH CULTUREby Marion V. Winters
$5,000 PULASKI SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS
Five winners of the 15th annual $5,000 Brig. Gen. Casimir Pulaski Scholarships were announced recently by Mr. Marion Winters, Chairman Pulaski Scholarship Committee, American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC). A record number of applications were received this year. The scholarship program was initiated 15 years ago as a result of a sizeable endowment by the Conrad R. Walas family with continuing support from the Polonia.
Serving with Mr. Winters on the Pulaski Scholarship Committee for 2015 are Mrs. Deborah M. Majka, MS; Mrs. Carolyn Meleski, MS; Mrs. Alicia L. Dutka; and Mr. Stephen Medvec Ph.D. The exceptional qualities of school work and research plus dedicated community services performed by the applicants made the final selection process quite difficult. The Committee felt that most of the applicants deserved recognition for their outstanding achievements and honestly wished that funding was available that could have allowed for several more awards.
The Pulaski Committee selected the following students for the 2015 Pulaski Scholarships for Advanced Studies grants of $5,000 each:
Alexander Jan Kubiak is a medical student at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA. A U.S. citizen born in Poland, Mr. Kubiak graduated Magna Cum Laude from St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, NJ. In 2013, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from Drew University and began his journey of becoming a physician. Two letters from M.D. professors at Drexel University praise Mr. Kubiak very highly and view "the constellation of his fine qualities as a student attest not only to his intelligence and scholarly diligence, but also to his upbringing, his maturity, and his strong cultural and social values" and predict "he will prove to be a fine physician who remains actively committed to his cultural roots". In addition to pursuing a career in medicine, he has been actively involved in the Polish community. Mr. Kubiak co-founded the Polish Culture Club at Drew University, which has received several awards because of its extensive and outstanding activities, including a performance of Life in a Jar, a play about Irena Sendler who had saved many Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.
Nicole Kuruszko is presently a Master's candidate in International Affairs at The New School in New York, NY, having graduated Summa cum Laude with a BA in Political Science and German Studies at Drew University - Madison, NJ in 2013. Ms. Kuruszko overall career goal is to join the Foreign Service and become a Public Diplomacy Officer on behalf of the U.S. State Dept Since Jan. 2015, Ms. Kuruszko has been serving as an Intern with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations at the U. S. State Dept. in NYC and is scheduled for an internship this summer at the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania. At the New School she is serving as a Program Associate at the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies (TCDS). The TCDS Director's letter of recommendation praises Nicole highly and believes that "awarding her the scholarship would be a very worthy investment, both for the applicant, the Polish American community, and in the future for ACPC itself". Ms. Kuruszko is currently working on writing a young adult novel on the life of Irena Sendler, "the Polish heroine who rescued 2,500 Jewish children during WWII". She had the good fortune to have won the ACPC's Summer Studies in Poland award last year and took language courses at St. John Paul II Catholic University in Lublin.
Dariusz Ocetek an accomplished singer, bass baritone, is presently a student working on his doctorate of musical arts program at the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at The Catholic University of America. The School's Professor and Head wrote that "Dariusz's presence is an introduction to new repertoire for the entire vocal division" and he finds him "to be a worthy liaison between the school and the Polish community in the greater Washington D.C. area". Mr. Ocetek's university studies began in Poland where he earned a degree in Music Performance-Voice at the Vocal & Ballet College in 1991. Five years later he obtained a Bachelor of Music in Performance-Voice at the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music, NYC. A Master's degree in the same field followed in 2013 at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, GA. He has performed in Operatic Concerts with orchestra, with piano and also in collaboration with singers and pianists in Germany, Italy, Poland, and the U.S.A. Mr. Ocetek has served as an Artistic Director for the Polish American Culture Club, NYC, for the Polish American Music Stage, NYC, and Asst. Dir. Polish Singers Alliance of America for a number of years. In the latter position the Chamber Student Choir created and conducted by Mr. Ocetek won First Prize at the 57th Convention & Competition, and he was awarded the Grand Prize for that Competition in 2005. He is very highly recommended by The Catholic University of America (CUA) Prof/Head of Vocal Division/Opera and the Maestro Conductor of the CUA Symphony Orchestra as well as by the Music Director of the Polish Singers Alliance of America District VII.
Ava Socik having earned a BA in Psychology at Yale University where she served as a Sweitzer Fellow and Student Mentor, Ms. Socik is currently in her third year at Rush Medical Center for a Doctor of Medicine degree. A Professor MD at Rush Medical Center describes Socik as "one of the most competent, hard-working, and enthusiastic students" with whom he has worked over the past 46 years. He adds that "she will make a wonderful clinician, teacher, and clinical researcher". Ms. Socik was selected by senior students to be a leader in the University's Community Health Clinic where she and four classmates recruit, train and schedule volunteers to provide service to the community. She works primarily with Polish patients and also with Spanish patients. As a translator she gives patients comfort knowing they are being fully understood and have a clear picture of the doctor's advice. A very busy young lady, aside from her university studies, Ava has several manuscripts in preparation and is serving as Project Manager for Arbor Falls Fdn; Community Outreach Intern; Technology Representative at Rush Medical Center, and a Steering Committee member in the largest free health clinic in the nation where she organized and coordinated Rush's involvement in the Chicago Community Health Clinic.
Pawel Wierzbicki a U.S. citizen born in Poland, is a graduate student enrolled in the L.L.M. (Legum Magister - Master of Laws) Comparative Law Studies Program at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, which will be completed within one year (May 2015). He had earned a Juris Doctor (equivalent to U.S. Professional Degree) at the University of Warsaw in Spring 2014. In cooperation between the Levin College of Law and the University of Warsaw Mr. Wierzbicki was issued a One Year Certificate in American Law Studies, June 2014. He was a finalist for the best legal essay "Legalization of the Concubinage in Poland." A Univ. of Florida professor's letter of recommendation credits him with receiving the top grade in his Torts class; earning the prized "Book Award"; and "his achievements including out-performing our U.S. students are remarkable". In one of three additional letters of recommendation it was reported that "Pawel's active engagement included presentations to other students not only Polish legal concepts and traditions, but also cultural values, e.g., the dinner held by the International Law Society, which was solely prepared by Pawel introduced Polish traditional dishes such as "borscht, pierogi, and bigos". Also he had organized a film screening featuring some Polish movies. "He is the best representative of Polish ancestry and heritage in the American community you can only imagine."
The American Council for Polish Culture is highly pleased to have chosen such exceptional scholars for the 2015 Pulaski Scholarships for Advanced Studies. Polonia may take pride in the remarkable accomplishments of these students who will be playing leadership roles soon in their respective fields and may be expected to continue their participation in Polonia activities within their communities and beyond.