Friends and family unite to honor their loved ones by creating endowed scholarships for students.

By Carol Marcy

When Geneseo senior Alexandra Ciarcia ’18 died suddenly in 2017, family and friends, including Ciarcia’s Phi Lambda Chi sorority sisters and the Student Association, wanted to keep her memory alive while helping other students pursue their dreams at Geneseo. Together, they raised $25,000 to establish the Alexandra Ciarcia ’18 Memorial Endowed Scholarship.

Today, Ciarcia’s aunt, Theresa Clarke, and Clarke’s daughter, Cayla, continue to raise funds to build the endowment. “No single one of us could have done this alone,” said Clarke, who has raised more than $8,000 through efforts from bottle drives to bake sales.

”It truly does take a village,” she said. “It’s wonderful to receive so much support for Alex and for the importance of education.”

Small individual gifts add up and make a big impact. For families and friends, coming together to create endowed scholarships after the loss of a loved one is a way to honor their memory and give back to the College their loved one cherished.

“Endowed scholarships like Alexandra’s are forever funds. They help a greater number of students over time because the fund is invested to generate revenue. Endowments create self-renewing scholarships for generations of students,” said Ellen Leverich ’90, vice president for college advancement.

Rachel Choset ’19 was the first recipient of the Ciarcia scholarship and was inspired by how people came together to create it. “It led me to pursue a future working in student affairs, to have the opportunity to foster a campus community and work with such special students like Alexandra Ciarcia,” said Choset, who is now pursuing a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs at New York University.

Ciarcia’s scholarship is one example of several Geneseo endowments created by groups of individuals in someone’s memory.

Kristi Altieri, fiancée of Mark “Marco” Callanan ’10, and his family hold an annual 5K run in Fairport, N.Y., that contributes to the Mark A. Callanan ’10 Memorial Scholarship endowment. The endowment, now up to $35,000, was established by the family following Callanan’s death in 2016.

“Mark had a deep reverence for brotherhood and what it means to take care of the people we love,” said Altieri. “We chose to donate the proceeds to Geneseo as it is a place Mark loved and where he grew in his understanding of what he valued and who he would become.”

Throughout college, Callanan served across the globe in the U.S. Marine Corps with an extensive and medaled career. After graduating from Geneseo, Mark worked for the U.S. Department of Defense helping to build economic stability and infrastructure in Afghanistan.

The Amy S. Janicki ’13 Memorial Scholarship was also recently established by friends and family in memory of Amy Janicki ’13, who died suddenly in 2015. “Geneseo was Amy’s second home,” said Madeline Herrick ’14, Janicki’s Sigma Delta Tau sorority sister and fundraising leader.

Both the Janicki and Callanan scholarships will be awarded to students for the 2020-2021 academic year.