FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Air Force Association announces first recipients of Ferretti Scholarships
ARLINGTON, Va – The Air Force Association today announced the first recipients of the Lt. Col. (Ret.) Romeo and Josephine Bass Ferretti Scholarship program.
This remarkable endowment was established one year ago through a bequest of the late Lt. Col. Ferretti of Bourne, Massachusetts, and a personal gift from the late Mrs. Ferretti. The $250,000 endowment from the Ferretti estate, managed by Amy Mowbray and Col. Lew Ferretti, USM (Ret.), makes possible two-to-four yearly scholarships of $2,500 each to minor dependents of enlisted Air Force active duty, reserve or guard personnel selected with consideration of both merit and need.
“We’re very pleased that four exceptional young people are benefiting from the first $10,000 in Ferretti Scholarship funds,” said Lew Ferretti. “They have bright futures and we’re looking forward already to learning about the next students that will be selected.”
“It is very fulfilling to see Romeo and Josephine Ferretti’s vision in action,” said Amy Mowbray. “This program invests in the lives of four deserving young people, and makes a difference.”
The scholarships are granted annually with priority given to graduating high school seniors who have committed to the study areas of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).
The late Lt. Col. Ferretti and his late wife were long time supporters of AFA and advocates of education. Lt. Col. Ferretti served in the Air Force for more than 23 years, beginning in World War II with the Army Air Corps where he volunteered for flight training. He went on to fly in the P-61 Black Widow night-fighter. On Easter Sunday in 1945, he was shot down over enemy territory, but was able to parachute to safety and evade capture. After retirement in 1966, he became a stockbroker and financial planner.
Mrs. Ferretti was a secondary and high school teacher and retired after 30 years of teaching. While she and her husband were stationed at Macdill AFB, Fla., she taught Airmen from the base their General Education Degree program requirements as well as other courses. She said the reason for the scholarship fund is for children of Airmen, noting her Romeo did not have the money available to attend college and wanted to see more children have that opportunity. Originally from Opelika, Ala., Mrs. Ferretti and her late husband had called Tampa, Fla., their home.
The first four recipients are Chrystine Bourbina, Vanessa Eaken, Erin Elbel-Thompson, and Cassy Piela, selected with the assistance of the Air Force Sergeants Association and the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force.
Chrystine Bourbina is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Pharmacology and plans to become a licensed pharmacist. She has already completed an internship in a local pharmacy. While attending Monroe County Community College, she has maintained a 4.0 GPA and she graduated high school with a 4.14 GPA. She received several awards in her high school career including Cadet of the Year in AFJROTC. She was participated in the Color Guard, her high school Environmental Club, the AFJROTC Drill Team and the Varsity Tennis Team. Her father, Allan Bourbina, who was an Air Force Instructor for the 18th Logistics Readiness Squad retired in January 2006.
Vanessa Eaken is seeking a degree in Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. Very interested in HIV research, she hopes to one day work as a lab assistant in Washington University’s ongoing experiment concerning Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms. In high school, while working a full time job she graduated in the top 5 percent of her class with a 3.88 GPA. She was also active in her high school community, participating in the Instrumental music committee, Youth for Conservation, her church youth group, and as 1st chair bassoon and low woodwind section leader in the Wind Ensemble and Orchestra. Her father is retired from the Air Force and now works as a welder.
Erin Elbel-Thompson is currently attending the University of Texas and hopes to double major in biology and political science and then attend medical school. She has volunteered at the Bitburg Air Force Base pediatric clinic and also participated in the world’s largest Model United Nations program at The Hague where she was Secretary General. She has won top student achievement awards in English, History and other subjects. She was Vice President of the Drama Club, ran cross country, and played soccer. She even found time to graduate 2nd in her class with a GPA of 4.025.
Cassy Piela is currently a first year student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she plans on studying Biomedical Engineering. She graduated high school as the class valedictorian, a GPA of 4.0 and was ranked first of 409 students. While in high school she won numerous awards including “highest average” in Geometry Honors, English Honors and others. She was also the president of the Technology Student Association, captain of her varsity volleyball team, co-captain of her varsity swim team, and played varsity soccer. Her father is retired from the Air Force and her mother is a teacher. The family lives in Fayetteville, NC.
AFA advocates education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), to develop the skills that are crucial to air power, national security and economic vitality. The scholarship is awarded on consideration of both merit and need. It highlights STEM fields of study and is available to dependents of Airmen in the active Air Force, Air National Guard, or Air Force Reserve Command.
For more information on how to support these programs and other AFA educational initiatives, go to http://www.afa.org/aef/cntrbtns/.
AFA is a 501(C)(3), nonprofit organization promoting public understanding of aerospace power and the pivotal role it plays in the security of the nation. AFA has more than 200 chapters nationally and internationally representing more than 125,000 members. Visit AFA at http://www.afa.org.
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