YONKERS, N.Y. – The Organization for the Defense of Lemkivshchyna (OOL) awarded the first-ever OOL College Scholarship awards during a ceremony at the Ukrainian Youth Association (CYM) building in Yonkers, N.Y., on December 12.
The inaugural recipients of the OOL College Scholarships included the following individuals: Brianna Chalupa of Rochester, N.Y.; Kalyna Kuzemczak of Yonkers, N.Y.; Natalia Kuzmiak of New York; Juliana Paslawsky of Towaco, N.J.; Julia Pelesz of Union, N.J.; Sophia Priatka of Greenwich, Conn.; Lukian Tomaszewsky of Cortland Manor, N.Y.; and Patricia Wasiczko of Yonkers, N.Y. Each recipient received $500.
In order to qualify for the scholarship, applicants were required to be of Lemko ancestry, as well a member of OOL for at least one year, or be the child or grandchild of a member of the OOL. The 2021 scholarship recipients represented the following OOL branches: Branch number 1 in New York; Branch number 2 in Yonkers, N.Y.; Branch number 3 in Passaic, N.J.; Branch number 5 in Irvington, N.J., and Branch number 22 in Syracuse, N.Y.
Applicants were also required to be a U.S. resident and entering their first or second year as full-time students at an undergraduate college or trade school program. Additionally, they had to submit personal essays regarding how being Lemko has impacted their life and/or how they have preserved Lemko culture or history.
Presenting the awards were OOL Scholarship Committee members Steve Kapitula and Marika Shmotolocha, as well as OOL President Mark Howansky.
Mr. Howansky addressed the reason the OOL set up the College Scholarships in 2021 after various waves of Lemkos immigration to the United States.
“A lot of the Lemkos who were born in Lemkivshchyna are slowly ‘leaving us’ and now it’s the kids and the grandkids, so it’s really important that you know where you came from and help us preserve the Lemko history,” Mr. Howansky said.
Mr. Howansky encouraged the award winners to make use of OOL’s historical resources and wished them much success in the academic year.
Roman Kozicky, president of SUMA (Yonkers) Federal Credit Union, attended the event and pledged that his organization would contribute $1,000 to the OOL College Scholarship fund.
For more information about the 2021 OOL College Scholarship recipients or how to apply for the 2022 awards, readers can visit the OOL’s website at https://lemko-ool.com/?lang=en, or email the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org.