A 2019-2020 Phillips Alumni Scholar
Cole Chizmadia has always wanted to be a teacher, and this desire to make a difference has influenced his whole life.
As a volunteer at the preschool of Fairfield Ludlowe High School in Fairfield, CT, from which he graduated in June 2019, Cole created his own lesson plans, devising activities and creative art projects appropriate to their different age levels. Additionally, he worked at a local elementary school’s after-school program, helping students with their homework and spending quality time with them.
In other venues, he coached basketball, his other passion besides teaching. He worked with young athletes at the Wakeman Boys and Girls Club, giving back to a place he began to attend as a seven year old. In 2018, he was nominated for Wakeman Youth of the Year for his impressive involvement. Cole also dedicated time on Saturdays to teach basketball to children with special needs and developmental disabilities.
Given all this, it is no surprise that he has chosen to attend Southern Connecticut State University (’23) in order to major in special needs education. What might be surprising, though, is that Cole received services during much of his school career to overcome a learning disability. “I have had to work twice as hard as all my peers to achieve the same things they have, but it finally all paid off. My disability has shaped me into the person I have become,” says Cole. The memory of countless teachers who helped him to develop the mindset that he could overcome anything feeds his desire to be a special needs teacher.
At SCSU, he is also excited about working with the club Best Buddies, where college students are matched with children with disabilities. “Overall, I am really happy here. It is a perfect fit for me.”
PHILLIPS ALUMNI SCHOLAR
The Phillips Alumni Scholar Award goes to a new recipient of the scholarship who clearly exemplifies a “sense of other,” strong work ethic, academic strength and commitment to community service that are the hallmarks of the Phillips Scholar. The funds for the Alumni Scholar award(s) come from the generosity of Phillips Scholarship Alumni who donate so that others may have the opportunity to overcome the same financial barriers to education that they found. We are deeply grateful for the support of our alumni.