Archive for December, 2010

Dec 31 2010

Happy New Year!

2010 was a fantastic and very productive year for the Emily C. Specchio Foundation thanks to your support! We truly have a lot to be thankful for.

With your help, the Emily C. Specchio Foundation has made major strides towards our mission of empowering youth to make a difference. Our accomplishments for this year include:

  • The selection of four Virginia Tech students with excellent records of leadership, scholarship, and community service to award the endowed Emily C. Specchio Memorial scholarship, bringing the total scholarships award since inception to 17!
  • Funding twelve young women entrepreneurs from around the world through Kiva no-interest microloans, bringing our total entrepreneurs supported to 24.
  • Donation of a new Panasonic laptop computer (courtesy of Jay Caldas) to the Mother Patern School of Health Sciences Library in Monrovia, Liberia for the new Masters Program in Nursing Education.
  • Helping Sister Prisca Nwogu, R.N., College of Saint Elizabeth Alum, in her humanitarian project to build a hospital in Evbuotubu Village, Nigeria, which will serve nearly 1 million people who currently have no nearby medical facilities.


Thank you all for your continuing support!! We hope to have an even bigger and more successful 2011. Happy New Year!

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Dec 14 2010

2011 Emily C. Specchio Memorial Scholarship Recipients

Published by admin under Scholarships,Virginia Tech

We proudly announce the 2011 recipients of the Emily C. Specchio Memorial Scholarship at Virginia Tech. This year we were able to fund the study abroad costs for FOUR students! All of the students will be studying abroad in Lugano, Switzerland this spring.

John Specchio and Kate Specchio Barrientos with the 2011 Scholarship Recipients
Brandon Collins

Brandon is a Virginia Tech Junior double majoring in accounting and marketing. He is a brother of Pi Kappa Phi, and is involved in community service supporting PUSH America, Relay for Life, and the Special Olympics.

Ashley Eliasoph

Ashley is a Virginia Tech Junior majoring in Psychology with a Marketing cognate, and a member of the Alpha Phi sorority. She has spent 7 straight summers volunteering on mission trips to Sneedville, Tennessee and is also been involved in Relay for Life, Greeks Giving Back, and Our Neighbor’s Child.

Emily Smalling

Emily is a Virginia Tech Junior honors student majoring in Communications with a minor in Political Science and a Marketing cognate. She is a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha fraternity. She traveled to Nicaragua over her last two spring breaks to work with orphans and refugees through the Nicaragua Orphan Fund.

Jillian Smith

Jillian is a Virginia Tech Junior honors student majoring in Marketing Management with a minor in Business Leadership, and a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. She volunteers at Gilbert Linkous Elementary, tutors at Blacksburg Estates Mobile home park, Relay for Life, and Pamplin Ambassadors.

Ashley, Brandon, and Emily at Emily’s memorial bench located at the Virginia Tech Duckpond

For more photos of our trip to Virginia Tech to meet the recipients, check out our photo gallery here!

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Dec 06 2010

An Interview with our 2010 Ambassador, Janet Latuga

Our 2010 Emily C. Specchio Ambassador grant is awarded to Janet Latuga, a senior marketing major at Fairfield University. The grant will support Janet’s project involving the selling of crafts by artisans from Mayasa, Nicaragua to help support and expand their business. Families that live in the rural sector of this small city have passed on the traits and skills required to produce crafts of varying size, shape, and detail; however, despite the extraordinary talents of the artisans and quality of their products, their impoverished location restricts their ability to sell to bigger markets.

Janet learned of this community through a research project with Professor Tellis of Fairfield, and took on the task of helping the artisans expand their market by importing their crafts and selling them at various events in the US. Janet traveled to Mayasa in February 2010 to meet with the artisans in person, as well as meet with Nitlapan, the microfinance institution that works with the artisans to fund their work.

Her goal with our grant is to allow the artisans to expand their businesses by importing their items to the US and to make this model sustainable at Fairfield after she graduates. We recently spoke with Janet and learned even more about her past experiences, project updates, and goals for the future.

Q: How did you learn of the artisans in Nicaragua and where did you get the idea for your project?

Janet Latuga: I learned about the artisans in Nicaragua from Professor Tellis.  He is an information systems professor in the School of Business at Fairfield University.  He also was the person who gave me the idea to bring the crafts here and sell them at campus events.  My freshman year, he had brought in a selection of the crafts and sold them at one event he ran.  I remembered him telling my class about the crafts, so when he suggested that idea for my project, I thought it was terrific.

Q: You traveled to Nicaragua to meet the people in these communities face to face. Describe what you saw during this trip and how it may have changed your outlook of the world.

JL: Meeting the artisans was an unforgettable experience.  Their houses had dirt floors and wild dogs running throughout the area.  Their houses were all very close together, and they did not have the large property space that can be found in the U.S.  It really made me realize all the things I take for granted.  I never thought about the importance of hard wood floors or insulation.  I take air conditioning for granted, but these luxuries are not afforded to the families I met.  It made me realize that people in America live a very sheltered life.  We don’t realize what it’s like for families in other cultures and countries.

Q: Describe how your project makes an impact for the artisans and their communities in Nicaragua.

JL: The artisans were looking for an outlet in the U.S.  They wanted to find a way to sell more of their crafts to help their business flourish, and my project does just that.  I’m not taking profits from the items I sell.  I use the money from the crafts I sell to re-order more products from them.  They need more outlets to sell their crafts in order to make a living, and I created that for them.

Q: Your goal is to make this project sustainable at Fairfield. How do you plan to make this a reality?

JL: My goal has already started becoming a reality.  I’ve already spoken to two student groups on campus about my project, and I have begun to get volunteers.  I’m also speaking with the faculty of the school of business in December about my project.  I hope that they will be able to get a class involved in managing and maintaining my project.  They recently added an entrepreneurship concentration to the school of business, and I feel as though my project would be a great project for one of those classes.

Q How can others follow your progress and contribute to this project?

JL: I’ve started a blog online at http://nicaraguancrafts.wordpress.com/.  This is a great way for people to see what I’ve been doing and offer suggestions.

Q: How has the Emily C. Specchio Ambassador program helped you to make this community service project a reality?

JL: The foundation has been a great help to me already.  I just started my blog this year.  I had never even thought of the idea until I was involved in the Ambassador program.  I also was not doing any fundraising before because I did not have the help of a foundation, but now through the program, I’ll be able to raise money to leave future students with enough capital to keep my project going.

The Emily C. Specchio Ambassador program is committed to empowering young people to make a difference. Thank you for you support of our foundation that allows programs like this a reality.


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