Four students at the undergrad level, and four grad students, have taken home scholarships from Villa Charities.

Eight lucky students have received scholarships from the Villa Charities Scholarship Program in its inaugural year. The program, launched in March, is open to students of all backgrounds and faiths who contribute to Villa Charities's mission: enriching lives through experiences and services that honour Italian culture and heritage.

Four undergraduate students have received $2,500 scholarships, while four graduate students have taken home $5,000 each.

"Each of the inaugural award recipients submitted impactful and heartwarming essays that clearly articulated the importance of their Italian culture and heritage and how it aligns with Villa Charities' mission," said Anthony DiCaita, President and CEO, Villa Charities Inc.

Undergraduate recipients

Each winner of an undergrad award will take home $2,500.

Daniela Fiscio

Western University
BA: Media, Information, and Technoculture

"My Nonna and Nonno made an unbelievable sacrifice leaving their homeland alone, hoping to reap the benefits of Canada," Daniela said. "Their decision to leave all of their family behind motivates me to give back to others and celebrate Italian traditions to honour my grandparents."

William Goddard

University of Toronto
BA: Ethics, Society, and Law

"I value education tremendously. Academia is one of the means by which I will continue my Nonno's mission to create a better future for my family," William said. "The classroom is an environment for me to work hard, be honest, and demonstrate the worth of those with Italian backgrounds."

Luca Ramelli

Queen's University
BSc: Environmental Science

"Being Italian has enriched my life in so many ways. I am deeply proud of my Italian heritage, as it has taught me many valuable things through my life," Luca said. "As such, I work to give back to the Italian community in any way that I can."

Melissa Gatti

University of Waterloo
BA: History

"Through the Honours Arts and Business Co-op program, I plan to continue enriching lives through services and experiences that will honour my Italian heritage and continue to fuel the cultural mosaic of our country," Melissa said. "Being a student at St. Jerome's University College at the University of Waterloo, I look forward to attending Italian language circles with fellow students, where we can practise the language and nurture the culture in the lives of Italians and non-Italians."

Graduate recipients

Each winner of a graduate award will take home $5,000.

Demille Odoardi

Queen's University
MSc: Anatomical Sciences

"From a young age I was immersed in such a beautiful culture, where I learned that bringing people together and fostering a strong sense of community is incredibly important," Demille said. "As I grew older, I realized that I, too, wanted to create the same sense of togetherness that my Nonna brought to her community and to her family."

Alessandra Cicci

University of Toronto, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy
Master of Global Affairs and Master of Public Policy

"From taking Italian art history classes at the Columbus Centre, to traveling to Abruzzo with Centro Scuola, my parents emphasized the value of learning about our heritage," Alessandra said. "My family's love for Italy was also paired with their love for their new home, Canada."

Celina De Biasio

University of Ottawa Medical School
MD: Doctor of Medicine

"My drive, passion, and work ethic are all influenced by my family's immigration experiences and my Italian upbringing," said Celina. "Like Villa Charities, I have made a conscious effort to enrich the lives of my community while honouring my Italian culture and heritage by integrating Italian studies into my learning, and advocating for vulnerable populations."

Cessidia De Biasio

Queen's University, Smith School of Business
MBA: Master of Business Administration

"My passion for honouring my Italian heritage, advocating for immigrants and youth, and inspiring people to explore the Italian in all of us, will continue beyond my MBA," Cessidia said. "Enriching lives through experiences and services that honour everyone's cultures, while promoting unity and collaboration, will help me build enlightened communities for generations to come."

The Villa Charities Scholarship Program is open to full-time students who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents, in college or university, and who demonstrate leadership through community involvement and volunteering.

Learn more about Villa Charities