MANCHESTER, Conn. (May 28, 2019) – Manchester Community College has announced the Class of 2019 recipients of the Regional Advisory Council and CEO’s Student Awards. Rahil Chaluwala, of East Hartford, is the Regional Advisory Council Award winner and the CEO’s Student Award goes to Marissa Petitto, a Bolton resident.
The Regional Advisory Council Award honors a graduating student who has given outstanding service to the college, whether through community service, on-campus activities or all-around service to the community.
Chaluwala is an environmental science major who cites his father – an oil-resource company employee in Abu Dhabi – as his inspiration. An international student who has overcome cultural differences, he credits the faculty and staff at MCC with helping him to adjust. He plans to continue his studies at Central Connecticut State University.
He has worked at the college’s Cougar Pantry, which provides emergency bus passes, food, clothing and cafeteria vouchers for members of the MCC community in need. He has participated in MCC’s annual open house, where he shared his experiences with prospective students and their families, and he is a part of INTStudents, a club for international students, where he had the opportunity to network with and support other international students.
The CEO’s Student Award honors a student who has made exceptional efforts in his or her life or has shown unusual perseverance in spite of difficulties, obstacles and challenges.
Petitto overcame abuse and mental illness as a teen. She discovered art as a healing process with the help of an art therapist, and she was given tools for self-expression that led her to create a new life and vison for herself. With little to no support for going to college, she obtained financial aid and learned to rely on public transportation. This gave her the independence to break free of a restrictive home environment.
She is now focused on providing inspiration and guidance to younger people who have also dealt with abuse. She is graduating with an associate in science degree in graphic design, with a concentration in illustration, and she plans to follow this with a degree in clinical child psychology. She aspires to be a child and adolescent psychologist, as well as write and illustrate books for children who don’t have access to traditional therapy or cannot receive help.
Chaluwala and Petitto will both be recognized at MCC’s 55th Commencement Ceremony on Wednesday, May 29 at 5:30 p.m. at Central Connecticut State University Welte Auditorium.