Media release

Six students receive Carter Roger Williams Scholarships

Launched by the late philanthropists Letitia and John Carter in 2017, the goal is to encourage students to think big about their future.

The Rhode Island Foundation is sending high school seniors from Cranston, North Providence, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket off to college with Carter Roger Williams Scholarships, which honor the spirit of the state’s founding father. The awards are worth up to $480,000 over four years.

“The world of possibilities just got wider for these students. Thanks to the steadfast commitment of the Carter family, we can continue to help students chart their own paths to educational success,” said David N. Cicilline, president and CEO of the Foundation.

This year’s recipients are Daniel Adeliyi of Providence, Daishanay Francis of Woonsocket, Valeria Gil of Pawtucket, Jason Lebrun of North Providence, Naomi Felix Monanci of Providence and Jully Myrthil of Cranston. Each student is eligible to receive up to $80,000 over four years.

Adeliyi will graduate from Classical High School. While in high school, he was captain of the Sailing Team and a math tutor and participated in Concert Band, Onward We Learn and PrepareRI. Adeliyi plans to attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute to pursue mechanical engineering.

"Hailing from Nigeria, a country of rich culture and a pioneering spirit, and born to a family who crossed an ocean to be able to run in more challenging but rewarding marathons in a distant country, I believe that attending college is a crucial step to embrace the opportunities this journey has provided. My initial passion for mechanical engineering stemmed from a desire to repair common household appliances, but now I hope to acquire the skills needed to improve the world around me," said Adeliyi.

In his application, Adeliyi shared how he relates to Roger Williams’ values.

“Similar to him, I want to luxuriate myself in environments where people are encouraged to think differently from their peers. I want to discover and nurture my own 'Providence' in college. That way I can remain grounded but still be open to change. I am positive that learning about different beliefs can help shape mine and my college education will contribute to my growth," he said.

Francis will graduate from Woonsocket High School. While in high school she served on the board of the Milagros Project, was senior class president, was a youth director on the BLM Political Action Committee and was the Girls and Boys Clubs Youth of the Year in the Northeast Region. Francis plans to attend Clark Atlanta University and major in business administration, with a focus on nonprofit work, organizational development and social corporate responsibility.

“I believe that being an administrator of any business involves being a leader, making it essential for me to learn leadership skills in college. I also want to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. I feel that understanding other cultures and customs firsthand will better equip me to help diverse communities. I believe that every leader should have the opportunity to experience different cultures to better understand and support those who come from experiences outside of what they’ve known,” said Francis.

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

“His legacy has also taught me the importance of valuing diversity within my community. His advocacy for religious freedom and personal rights inspires me to embrace and celebrate the unique backgrounds and perspectives of those around me. I believe that a diverse community is a stronger and more vibrant one. And I strive to create a welcoming environment where everyone feels valued and included,” she said.

Gil will graduate from Classical High School. While in high school, she interned at Rhode Island PBS, participated in Young Voices and Rhode Coders at the Providence Public Library, and was president of the Italian Club. Gil plans to attend Brandeis University and pursue a degree in marketing with a potential minor in computer science.

“College will help me to explore these diverse interests that I have developed from a young age. I will be able to become involved in many kinds of courses that will spark my curiosity and combine my multiple interests for the future. I wish to become the architect of my own education by using my creativity to find innovative solutions, perform research and work within all the different departments. I will be delighted in experimenting and challenging myself to find the connections between my desired careers of digital marketing and computer science,” said Gil.

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

“Roger Williams was the author of polemical treatises in RI, he defended his religious principles, and advocated for people’s rights, just like I did. I advocated for multi-lingual-learners’ rights at the State House, led a workshop advising teachers how to implement a better education for multi-language-learners at schools and participated in a multi-language-learners discussion panel at Brown University,” she said.

Lebrun graduated from La Salle Academy, where he was president of the Diversity Committee and the Global Business Club, wrote for the literary journal, served and a Senior Student Representative and was a tour guide. Lebrun plans to attend Drexel University and major in business administration.

“My long-term goal is to increase the amount of Black-owned businesses that empower people of color who share my identity and experiences. By pursuing a business major, I will gain the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship and create sustainable enterprises. Additionally, I aim to leverage my education and experiences to advocate for diversity and inclusion within the business world, ultimately contributing to a more equitable society. Through my college education, I aspire to become a leader in the business community and contribute to the advancement of ethical and sustainable business practices,” said Lebrun.

In his application, Lebrun shared how he relates to Roger Williams’ values.

“I have learned to have difficult conversations and bring awareness to certain things that need to be shined upon. As I talked more and more about complex issues, the conversations became less challenging and more approachable. Roger Williams' legacy reminds me that the fight for personal liberty and free speech is an ongoing practice that requires constant vigilance, commitment and dedication,” he said.

Monanci will graduate from the Providence Career & Technical Academy. While in high school, she was a SkillsUSA gold medalist and a youth organizer for the Alliance for Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation; participated in the Drone Building Program at Brown University and served as a Youth Board member at FirstWorks. Monanci plans to attend Princeton to pursue electrical and computer engineering.

“The field that captivates me due to its blend of theoretical concepts and practical applications in technology. This discipline offers a fascinating exploration into the fundamentals of electronics, circuits, and computer systems, which I believe will equip me with the skills necessary to innovate and contribute to the rapidly evolving tech industry. I am excited about the prospect of immersing myself in a well-rounded education that will shape me into an individual prepared for the future,” she said.

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

“As a community organizer and activist, I've encountered pushback while advocating for inclusivity and justice. In these moments, I can draw inspiration from Williams' commitment to these ideals, strengthening my resolve to continue advocating for positive change. Moreover, my newfound understanding of Roger Williams' contributions and his acceptance of Native Americans has deepened my appreciation for the diverse cultures and perspectives that enrich our community today,” she said.

Myrthil graduated from Village Green Virtual Charter School. While in high school, she served as a Rhode Island Department of Health Youth Ambassador, providing advice on adolescent health policy and programming; and as a Youth Ambassador for the After School Alliance, advocating for high-quality afterschool programs. Myrthil plans to attend Bentley University to pursue a business degree.

“I believe that formal education will provide me with the necessary knowledge and skills to address the complex issues surrounding mental health care access for BIPOC youth. It will also equip me with the tools and methods to apply my entrepreneurial mindset to advance equity and social justice and help me develop strategies for scaling my ventures to create a sustainable impact,” said Myrthil.

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

“His unwavering commitment to inclusivity and justice reminds me of the values I aspire to uphold. I am committed to creating a world where everyone has the tools to succeed, regardless of background or location. I am excited to continue to grow, learn, and contribute to positive change in the world. My work aligns with Roger Williams' principles of inclusivity and respect for diversity, and I am honored to be a part of this movement toward positive change,” she said.

The Carter Roger Williams scholarships are among $4 million in assistance that was available through the Foundation for the coming academic year. Hundreds of students received help with the cost of tuition, housing, books and fees. The Foundation expects to begin taking applications for the 2025-26 academic year in January.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Through civic leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is improving the lives of all Rhode Islanders.