Like many students, Cheshire High School freshman Michael DeJoseph had for years been preparing with his parents for him to go to college.
“My parents started saving money for me to go to college ever since I was born,” DeJoseph said. “They have always wanted me to be able to access the best opportunities that I can.”
The DeJoseph family started saving money for their son’s college experience through the CHET 529 College Savings Program, which is a state-run program that encourages students and their families to set up savings accounts and start thinking about college expenses at an early age.
While the program centers around teaching families healthy spending and saving habits, CHET also provides scholarships to students who go above and beyond what the program outlines and who have an interest in community leadership.
“The scholarship required me to interview someone in town who I looked up to and who was involved in a leadership role, so I immediately thought of my neighbor, Andrew,” said DeJoseph.
Andrew Martelli, the DeJoseph’s neighbor, was recently elected to the Cheshire Board of Education, and has been involved in many aspects of the community over the years.
“Andrew is a great role model for Michael, and he does so much for the community with Ball & Socket and the other programs he (participates in) with his family. It was a great experience for him to interview someone like that,” said DeJoseph’s mother, Jennifer.
“He doesn’t get paid for what he does on the Board, and I thought that it was a really selfless and impressive thing to do for our community,” added Michael.
DeJoseph had to interview Martelli and then write an essay describing the experience and what he learned. The application was submitted and DeJoseph and one of his peers, Eunsuh Park, were chosen as Cheshire’s scholarship winners. They each received $2,523 to help pay for their future education.
“I was really shocked when I learned that I had won,” DeJoseph said. “College is getting more and more expensive and any little thing I can get certainly helps.”
For DeJoseph, who spends a majority of his free time as an athlete who runs cross country and plays basketball, college will help him get one step closer towards his life goal of a career in physical therapy.
“I have always been really interested in how the body moves and works, and I have been involved in sports since I was really young,” he said. “It would be great to get involved in that field.”
DeJoseph would also like to emulate Martelli’s civic service someday, potentially becoming a leader in his community.
“What Andrew does for the community is really cool, and I would love to do what he does when I am older.”