BY MATTHEW Q. CLARIDA
HARTFORD – Former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman returned to the state Capitol complex on Tuesday to announce five new winners of his scholarship fund.
The recipients of the Joe Lieberman scholarship win a $1,500 grant that is renewable annually during their stints at two or four-year colleges if the winners maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 on the 4 point scale.
Lieberman clearly enjoyed himself during the short ceremony in the Legislative Office Building, remarking that the scholarship fund is well endowed and “hopefully will go on for, well, close to forever.” He also quipped that “at this stage in my life, I’m even delighted to see my friends in the press corps, which wasn’t always the case.”
Before taking questions from the Capitol press corps, the former 2000 vice presidential candidate beamed as he celebrated the five new winners as well as two previous recipients who returned for the ceremony.
“Just looking at the biographies of those who were selected, it is really quite thrilling,” he said. He added that “I felt like a daddy getting the report card” when he heard that all five of last year’s winners did well enough as freshman to earn another grant.
To fund the program, Lieberman used money left in his campaign account after his retirement from the Senate and also raised additional money. He does not pick the winners himself, instead delegating that responsibility and the general management of the program to a non-profit organization specializing in the field.
This year’s Lieberman Scholars hail from five Connecticut towns–Danbury, Ledyard, Stamford, Monroe, and Ellington–and each head in the fall to a four-year college. The 2014 winners are:
Priyanka Altman of Danbury High School will attend Dartmouth College and hopes to study biology there. “I find it extremely refreshing to find proponents of education who support merit-based scholarships,” she said.
Brian Healy of Ledyard High School will attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Brian said that he plans to study aerospace engineering, and casually proposed changing American elections to a ranked-voting system away from the present single-choice system, which he noted “really encourages the two-party system.”
Lieberman, of course, ran for Senate as an independent–albeit a well-funded one–in 2006 after losing the Democratic primary to Ned Lamont.
Claire Howlett of Westhill High School will attend Stanford University. A star track athlete at Westhill, Claire also edited the school paper. She plans to major in public policy.
Allison Miller of Masuk High School will attend Villanova University. Inspired by her own medical difficulties and long stays in health care facilities, Allison said that she has grown to love hospitals. “I loved the way the hospital staff united together in helping people,” she said.
Erin Schirra of Ellington High School will attend Quinnipiac University. Erin was unable to attend the ceremony, but plans to participate in Quinnipiac’s physician’s assistant program.