Combining a commitment to community service with a love for traveling, Sarah Guariglia, a member of Masuk High School's Class of 2008, spent time this summer caring for children at an orphanage in Romania.
Guariglia is the recipient of the Rotary District 7980 Service Above Self Scholarship. The $10,000 award covered this summer's trip as well as a follow-up visit to Romania to work at the same orphanage next summer.
David Wolfe, president of the Monroe Rotary Club, said Guariglia's interest in helping others far exceeds "resume-building" activities.
Wolfe said, "The Rotary Club of Monroe was very pleased to recoomend Sarah as a candidate. We were impressed by Sarah's experience. In addition to being an excellent student, Sarah has been involved with numerous service projects through her sorority. She also participate in Rotoract, which is a Rotary-sponsored organization for college students, as well as those on her own, such as the trip to Romania."
Guariglia had already made plans to travel to Romania through the United Planet program when she applied for financial assistance through the Rotary Club organization. She said that after completing a trip to Michigan to help build houses with Habitat for Humanity, she yearned to make a difference in people's lives on a global basis.
After researching different programs online, Guariglia hoped to travel to Nepal to teach English to Buddhist monks. "They told me that you have to feel comfortable not being able to speak to anyone for long periods of time, though, because the monks can't look at or talk to women," she explained.
When a dental hygienist who works at her parents' dental practice in Norwalk suggested traveling to her native country of Romania, Guariglia switched gears and looked into opportunities there.
Last winter, after her plans to stay with international college students at a compound in Romania that housed orphans, unwed mothers and the elderly were firmed up, her mother, Beth Goldberg, ran into Wolfe at the Monroe Big Y.
"You have to love small town life," Sarah said with a chuckle. "Mr. Wolfe asked her if any of her kids participated in community service because the Rotary Club has many scholarships available. I immediately contacted him and applied."
Wolfe said there were many candidates recommended by clubs throughout the Monroe club's district, which covers the four southern counties of Connecticut. Wolfe explained that the two major criteria for selection are service and academic performance.
"We give slightly greater emphasis to the service side for this scholarship," Wolfe added.
Guariglia said that although the majority of her responsibilities entailed child care, the volunteers pitched in wherever they were needed.
"I got a huge sense of appreciation working there," she said. "I'm definitely so much more thankful for my family and my education."
Guariglia is currently pursuing a joint bachelor and master's program in occupational therapy at Quinnipiac University. Her goal is to eventually work in a hospital's acute rehabilitation center.
"I want to travel a bit more, though," she added. "I'm not ready to settle down."
For more information about Rotary scholarships, go to rotary7980.org.
The Rotary Club will be seeking candidates for the 2012-13 Service Above Self Scholarship shortly. All current undergraduate or graduate students studying either domestically or abroad are eligible. Interested candidates can find information regarding this, and other scholarship opportunities, at www.rotary7980.org or contacting Rotarian Dave Wolfe at dave@wolfep