Media release

Foundation announces five recipients of college scholarships honoring Roger Williams

Students are eligible for $320,000 over four years through the Carter Roger Williams Initiative from philanthropists Letitia and the late John Carter

The Rhode Island Foundation is sending high school seniors from Cumberland, Providence and Woonsocket off to their freshman year with college scholarships honoring Roger Williams, the state’s founding father.

The four-year, renewable scholarships are through the Carter Roger Williams Initiative, which was launched by philanthropists Letitia and the late John Carter. The recipients from the Class of 2020 are eligible for $320,000 in aid over four years.

“Each one of these students found inspiration in Roger Williams and in turn has an inspiring story of their own to tell. It is only because of the commitment of the Carter family that we can encourage students and their parents to think big about their future."

- Neil D. Steinberg, Foundation president and CEO

This year’s scholarship recipients are Juliana Camarena of Cumberland, Kamar Gure of Providence, Farzaneh Jalali of Providence, Brett Rose of Woonsocket and David Salzillo Jr. of Providence.

They were selected from more than 125 applicants based on their academic achievement, financial need, appreciation for Roger Williams’ values and record of community service.

Juliana Camarena

Camarena attends the R.I. Nurses Institute Middle College Charter High School in Providence. A foster child, she will attend Curry College and major in elementary education.

In her application, Camarena shared how she relates to Roger Williams’ values.

“I hope to teach young students to stand up for what they believe in, to stretch their imaginations and to create a better community. I want my classroom to be their refuge, their sanctuary, their Providence. The classroom and community that I aspire to build aligns with the drive that Roger Williams had to create a community where all are welcome,” she wrote.

Farzaneh Jalali

Jalali attends Central High School and is class valedictorian. Born in Afghanistan, she and her family immigrated to the United States as refugees in 2016. She volunteers at the Refugee Dream Center. Jalali plans to attend Roger Williams University to study computer engineering.

In her application, Jalali shared what she has learned from Roger Williams’ values.

“I related because we both had to start our life from zero, but we never gave up on anything. We both wanted freedom in our life and believed we could make it happen by working hard and doing what we thought was right. Nothing could stop us from achieving our goals,” she wrote.

Brett Rose

Rose attends Woonsocket High School, where he founded the local chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, Jr. He is an innovator in the face of poverty and its challenges on his family. He will attend Wentworth Institute of Technology and study engineering.

In his application, Rose shared what he has learned from Roger Williams’ values.

“He was a man beyond his time where he valued freedom and the ability to express it. Roger Williams wanted to branch out and not let society hold him fixated on the norms he was raised in. He broke from convention so that he could live a life guided by his principles. As the founder of what would become the state of Rhode Island, he serves as a beacon to all of us today not only for his political leadership, but also for his character as a human being,” wrote Rose.

Kamar Gure

Gure attends Central High School and plans to attend Rhode Island College to pursue a career as a clinical laboratory scientist. She and her family immigrated to the United States from Kenya in 2017 as refugees. She volunteers at the Refugee Dream Center and received the Secretary of State’s Civic Leadership Award.

In her application, Gure shared how she relates to Roger Williams’ values.

“Roger Williams represents the courage to stand up for one’s beliefs, to uphold the freedom to think and lead, and to help others. These values are central to my life and the future ahead of me,” she wrote.

David Salzillo Jr.

Salzillo attends Classical High School. He is captain of the Classical Debate Team, a docent at the Stephen Hopkins House, received the Secretary of State’s Civic Leadership Award and the Thomas Jefferson Book Award. He was also a candidate for the 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. He will attend Providence College.

In his application, Salzillo shared what he has learned from Roger Williams’ values.

“He believed the greatest crime in the world is to not develop your potential. Of all of his sayings, this is perhaps the most central to his life and ours. If he hadn’t done that, he most likely would never have realized what he ultimately accomplished in the name of liberty, democracy and the advancement of mankind,” wrote Salzillo.

In addition to the scholarships, the Carter Roger Williams Initiative hosts a website – findingrogerwilliams.com -- that offers educational resources for students and educators and awards grants to schools to underwrite field trips to the State House.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $47 million and awarded a record $56 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2019. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.