Area students win Black Dirt Scholarships

Pine Island. Adella Kurosz, Vanessa Ortiz Aguilar and Ella Sussner demonstrated a commitment to and involvement in community volunteer service or community work experience.

| 07 Jul 2023 | 02:40

The Pine Island Chamber of Commerce has announced the 2023 Black Dirt Scholarship winners. The Chamber awards three scholarships of $1500 each and two tickets to the annual Black Dirt Feast to students who demonstrate a commitment to and involvement in community volunteer service or community work experience. Applicants are evaluated on their character and level of dedication to the service of others.

This year’s winners are:

Adella Kurosz

Kurosz will be attending SUNY New Paltz where she will pursue a degree in Art Education. As senior year co-captain of the Warwick Valley Swim and Dive Team, she provided the experience and training she needed as the Homestead Village lifeguard. During 2019 she participated in the Summer Youth Leadership Academy, which gave her the opportunity to meet local elected leaders while developing personal leadership skills.

She also contributed to her community as an artist and musician. She was the treasurer and president of the Warwick Valley Art Club (2019–2023); she also participated in the 2021 Warwick Valley Pride Art show, the Albert Wisner Public Library Art Show in 2021, The Lower Hudson Region Digital Media Show in 2022, and the Arts Build Confidence Showcase in 2023. Since 2022 she has been an active participant in the Doc Fry Music Sessions, a collaborative community concert series with a focus on teens. It revitalized a dormant music scene for teenagers and includes an art gallery that encourages growing artists.

Her creations in art range from a clay doll constructed over wire to pumpkins carved in the style of Beetlejuice.

Vanessa Ortiz Aguilar

She will be attending SUNY Oneonta to pursue a course of study in Political Science. Since the winter of 2021, she has been working as a Community Health Worker for the Warwick Area Farmworker Organization, going out to the camps to the local farmworker and farmworker families, providing them information about many topics that affect us all such as climate change, safety on the farm, mental health, and recently Prevention of Diabetes.

She enjoys helping out the people in her community, knowing that she can connect with their circumstances. Ortiz Aguilar has also volunteered at the Dulce Summer camp, Hot Meals Program, YOLOS (Young Outstanding Latina Organization), Christmas Store at WAFO, experiences that she will never forget.

She is a recipient of numerous local, state, and federal youth achievement and recognition awards for her active role in volunteering to assist the migrant farmers who have, for generations, harvested the food that we enjoy each year. Because her mom immigrated from Mexico and most of the people she works with are immigrants, she wants to become an immigration lawyer, a field that has always interested her.

Ella Sussner

In the fall, Sussner will be attending Binghamton University to study biomedical engineering on her way to becoming an orthopedic surgeon. She is a talented scholar athlete who speaks English, Hungarian, and French with an outstanding pedigree in community service: Captain of the Warwick EMS Junior Corps; President of the Warwick Sports Medicine Club; Mu Alpha Theta National Honor Society; and WVHS Wind Ensemble drum major. She tutored middle school students of all abilities in many subjects after school, and she was the manager of the Warwick Boys Varsity Swim Team, where she set up and ran swim meets, assisted with paperwork and stats, and helped to run practices and work on technique.

During her time as Captain of the Warwick EMS Junior Corps, she assisted with planning meetings, keeping track of members, and helping with training and drills; meanwhile, she participated in being on call and assisting EMTs in patient care from the scene of the accident, the ambulance, and to the hospital.

As a child she endured a bout with osteochondritis dissecans, a complicated bone disorder, which required an extensive recovery period. She was able to shadow Dr. Shubin Stein and attend a Perry Initiative event, which allows high school girls to do an all-day lab with orthopedic skills while being guided by residents and attendings.