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shim Nancy DiGrezio Memorial Scholarship

Nancy DiGrezio Memorial ScholarshipThe Nancy DiGrezio Memorial Scholarship was established in 2007 in memory of former YWCA Board Member Nancy DiGrezio, a long-time local advocate for social justice.  The scholarship is awarded annually  to a high school senior who lives or attends school within the YWCA Greater Newburyport's service area* who is a leader and peacemaker among her or his peers; whose actions exemplify tolerance and understanding of differences; and who, by example, empowers other students to respond to acts of intolerance and discrimination.

The YWCA will accept scholarship applications beginning on the national celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. An application screening committee of YWCA Board and community members will select the scholarship recipient. The scholarship will be announced at the Annual Meeting of the YWCA Greater Newburyport and will be awarded to the recipient at the year-end senior awards assembly at the recipient’s high school, so that he or she may be recognized in front of his or her peers, teachers and family.

*The YWCA Greater Newburyport serves the thirteen communities of Newburyport, Newbury, West Newbury, Salisbury, Amesbury, Merrimac, Georgetown, Rowley, Ipswich, Seabrook, Hampton, Hampton Falls, and Kensington.

Information about Nancy DiGrezio

Nancy DiGrezio actively lived and loved the mission work of the YWCA. Her tireless efforts on behalf of affordable housing, peace, diversity and tolerance were constant yet gentle reminders of the ongoing need for the YWCA’s mission work and how one person can have tremendous impact on the lives of others in our community. During her tenure with the YWCA Board of Directors, Nancy chaired the organization’s Advocacy Committee and Co-Chaired the 2005 and 2006 Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Breakfasts. In 2005, she advocated on behalf of the creation of the Mayor’s Commission on Tolerance and Diversity, and was a charter appointee to the Commission by Mayor Mary Anne Clancy.

2017 Scholarship Winners

Charlie Lake | Newburyport High School

Collin Tarr | Pentucket Regional High School

Previous Scholarship Winners

2016 | No award was given
2015 | Hannah Miles| Pentucket Regional High School
Hannah helped found Pentucket’s first Gender Studies Club. The club serves as “a safe haven where people of all genders and sexualities can come and share their experiences and their problems without fear of being judged.” Hannah says, “Hearing stories of my fellow classmates struggling against abuse because of their race, sexuality or gender has made me even more sensitive to discrimination…The only way to illuminate intolerance is by creating empathy for others.” Hannah’s “lifetime of experiences with inequality and (her) work in Gender Studies has made (her) a fierce promoter of tolerance, social justice and understanding.”
2015 | Michaela Morris | Phillips Exeter Academy
Michaela is a “firm believer that everyone deserves to be treated justly and with respect.” Michaela walks her talk through her reinvigorating of and leadership in the Heartbreakers Club, her advocacy efforts for Best Buddies and Special Olympics Youth Action Committee as well as her proposal for a partnership between Phillips Exeter Multicultural Affairs Office and English Department to educate students on the continued existence of racism. As she looks forward, Michaela states: “Right now, to me, the world feels vast and mysterious, teeming with possibilities. I look forward to learning more about the hundreds of ways that I can continue to affect change, continue to connect and continue to learn from my peers to make the world a better place.”
2014 | No award was given
2013 | Jordan Steelman | Newburyport High School
  Jordan’s essay begins “From the day I stepped onto the Special Olympics soccer field my freshman year; social justice has been a big part of my life.” Jordan’s love and compassion for the Special Olympians in his life is evident from his words and the words of others. Jordy not only gave 150 hours of community service to this endeavor, he also recruited other students in his school to share his passion and become unified partners for Special Olympic basketball and soccer. Jordy ends his final essay in this manner “…my main goal in life is to make a difference in whatever community I live. I strongly believe that the purpose of life is to live life with a purpose.” With his dedication and commitment to others, we are convinced that he will do so.
2012 | Derek Dow | St. John’s Prep
Derek Dow shim

Derek developed and implemented Women’s Justice Week at school in order to help students better understand sexism within our culture and how our views of women are developed in the home and classroom.  Derek spoke about the need to devote time and energy to changing the campus culture to ensure women were welcome on campus.  Derek helped form a gay-straight alliance and worked on plans to commemorate gay youth who have committed suicide.  He engaged his classmates by encouraging them to wear purple ribbons and pins that said ALLY on them.  His advisor wrote that he has been a key part in making St. John’s Prep a more just place.

2011 | Alexandra Canning | Newburyport High School
Alexandra Canning shim

Alexandra created a program at Newburyport High School that brought all of the transfer students together so that they would each know each other and form instant connections at school.  Her work created a welcoming environment for new students.  In addition, she worked with the Holland Project which provides agricultural programs for teens with autism and other disabilities.  “There really are no limits to what one can do once you set your mind towards a goal.  I have been guided towards helping the youth in my community and I plan on continuing that throughout my next four years…”

2010 | Mark Bajko| Newburyport High School
Mark Bajko shim

Mark of Newburyport High School worked with the Junior Clippers, a local chapter of the Special Olympics of Massachusetts since its inception.  He served as a mentor for four years to one student athlete, served as an assistant coach for the program and worked to help organize the chapter.  “The fulfillment comes when you see the kids score their first goal; shoot their first basket, or simply high-five another athlete….Special Olympics is a program that has sincerely changed me for the better.”

2009 | Sarah Murray | Triton Regional High School
Sarah Murray shim Sarah was a National Honor Society Officer, a Community Service Officer and mentor at Triton High School. She worked on a Habitat for Humanity project and participated in the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walks. To quote Sarah, “In ten years from now I want to be changing people’s lives for the better, impacting people to be knowledgeable and accepting, and I want to leave my community a better place than when I came in.” 

2008 | Emily McGranachan | Georgetown Middle High School
Lila Teeters shim As president of the Civil Rights Team at Georgetown High School, Emily worked hard to teach all forms of tolerance. She introduced "Gay, fine by me" t-shirts, managed a homelessness information campaign, organized dinners at a local senior center, and fundraised for a school in Wunlang, Sudan. She was also a volunteer with Horizons for Homeless Children and a member of Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere.

2007 | Lila Teeters | Pentucket Regional High School
Emily McGranachan shim As a high school member of the YWCA Board of Directors, Lila led the YWCA Teen Racial Justice Group and organized teens on a regional level to address issues of race and intolerance. She also co-chaired the 2007 Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast, co-sponsored by the YWCA and the Newburyport Commission for Diversity and Tolerance.

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Past YWCA Board President Mary Williamson presents Charlie Lake (Newburyport High School) with the Nancy DiGrezio scholarship at the ywca’s 133rd Annual Meeting held on May 2, 2017.  Charlie demonstrated commitment in raising awareness of issues faced by transgender persons, and was instrumental in measures taken within Newburyport High School to recognize and address the needs of transgender students with dignity and respect.

Pentucket Regional High School student Collin Tarr received the 2017 Nancy DiGrezio scholarship for his work toward changing his school’s mascot, deemed offensive to Native Americans.  He was presented with his award at the ywca’s 133rd Annual Meeting and is pictured here with past YWCA Board President Mary Williamson.

The Nancy DiGrezio Memorial Scholarship Fund was created by a generous gift from James Miller of Newburyport in memory of his late wife and her legacy of compassionate community service.

The YWCA Greater Newburyport administers the Fund and welcomes additional donations to it. For more information about donations to the Scholarship Fund, call 978-465-9922.


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