1st Lieutenant Gregory F. Zavota Humanitarian Scholarship


1st Lieutenant Gregory F. Zavota

1st Lieutenant Gregory F. Zavota Humanitarian Scholarship is a very special award given to one student each year. It is designed to recognize kind of generosity of spirit Greg Zavota showed throughout his life of twenty four years. Greg was a Black Hawk pilot in the 101st Aviation Regiment of the U.S. Army who followed his heart in his brilliant career. Because he wanted to help save lives, he asked to be transferred from the aviation branch to the medic branch, even though it meant taking a rank demotion. He earned a posthumous award, the Army Commendation Medal, for meritorious service as a forward support MEDEVAC team leader. A caring leader devoted to the well-being of his soldiers and their families, Greg was there for all who needed him.

Greg is fondly remembered locally at Barrington High School, where he was captain of the track team and a lettered athlete. Going on to West Point, he graduated with a degree in aeronautical engineering. Greg was known for his smile and his sense of humor, as well as for his determination and hard work. His family established the 1st Lieutenant Gregory F. Zavota Humanitarian Scholarship in 2010 as a wonderful memorial to Greg's passions and accomplishments. Their vision and generosity ensure that Greg's compassion for humanity and spirit for life will be nurtured in all the RIC students lucky enough to be awarded this recognition.

The first recipient of the 1st Lieutenant Gregory F. Zavota Humanitarian Scholarship (2010-11) is Amy Marshall '13. An Early Childhood and Special Education major, Amy was stunned when she learned of her award. While she readily acknowledges how much the scholarship helped her family financially, it is the honor of the award that means most to her. "I like to think that my work follows Greg's example," she states, "But until I got this scholarship, I didn't think of my mentoring and teaching in this way. Now I have seen the courage of the Zavota family, and I can only hope that I can be an inspiration to my students and make a difference in their lives."

Amy has been a mentor to an elementary student for four years in a row. She has also served in leadership positions with the Resident Student Association, the Mentor Organization at Henry Barnard, and Scholarships for Service. Her student-teaching supervisor, Laura E. Parkerson, attributes Amy's success as a mentor and volunteer to her "cheerful demeanor and quiet competence," qualities that the Zavota family might well understand. As Amy said in her thank you letter to her donors, "Since you have recognized me with this scholarship award, I want you to know I am committed to striving." She will do so because she knows first-hand how much one person can matter to others.

Brittany Richer '13 is proud to have been awarded the 1st Lieutenant Gregory F. Zavota Humanitarian Scholarship in 2011-12. The Woonsocket native is majoring in Secondary Education, and feels a strong connection to the award's purpose. She affirms: "I am grateful to be able to receive a scholarship in honor of an outstanding individual. The establishment of this scholarship allows a legacy to live on through the accomplishments of the recipient."

Amy Marshall '13
Zavota Scholarship Recipients
Megan Sewell '15

Brittany Richer '13

Brittany's own achievements are impressive, starting with her 4.0 grade point average. On campus, she is a tutor in the Writing Center and serves as a Senior Resident Assistant in the dorms. She has also mentored students for Open Books, Open Minds, led activities in the Honors Program, and has participated statewide in a host of other volunteer efforts. Professor Spencer Hall, Director of English Honors, elaborates on this recipient's stellar qualities: "Brittany is absolutely committed to community and service activities. They are integral to who she is." Brittany is fulfilling the paradigm of the Zavota family for their scholarship, joyously and wholeheartedly. 

The 2012-13 awardee of the 1st Lieutenant Gregory F. Zavota Humanitarian Scholarship, Megan Sewall '15, shares another aspect of Greg's accomplishments: she too had a successful high school athletic career in track and field. At Portsmouth High School, she medaled all three years of her participation in the Rhode Island State Track Meet. At RIC, she has turned her athletic skills to a new arena as a member of the women's basketball team, a pursuit that she says "has helped me mature and become mentally strong."

An avid volunteer, Megan has worked to rebuild homes in New Orleans damaged by Hurricane Katrina through Infinity Volunteers, an organization based in her home town. She has also served in Newport County soup kitchens, Aquidneck Island beach clean-ups, and continues to help raise funds for Infinity Volunteer charitable trips to New Orleans, Ghana and the Dominican Republic. As her mentor, Nicolina Kelly, founder of Infinity Volunteers, put it: "I believe Megan, because of her extraordinary abilities coupled with her incredible passion to make a difference, is destined to effect great things."

Like her fellow recipients of the Zavota Scholarship, Megan is an excellent student, earning a 4.0 GPA as she pursues a degree in Communication with a specialization in Mass Media. She hopes to go into sports broadcasting and reporting, but is also focusing on general education. Megan expresses her gratitude for her scholarship simply and sincerely: "I can't thank you enough for awarding me this scholarship. I am honored."

With the 1st Lieutenant Gregory F. Zavota Humanitarian Scholarship, these three awardees have received the jewel in the crown of their achievements at RIC.  It is clear that this honor will inspire Amy, Brittany and Megan to maintain a lifelong engagement with the spirited ideals of selflessness and compassion Greg Zavota dedicated his life to uphold.

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Page last updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013