The AVIXA Foundation announced the recipients of its 2021 scholarships, striving to build a more equitable and accessible path to the pro-AV industry. This year’s recipients include Irene Ataifo from Howard Community College has been awarded the elAVate Scholarship. Angelina Jonkaitis, a student at Valencia College, is the recipient of the Michael Vergauwen Scholarship. Carter Kucier from Lebanon Valley College has been awarded the Mosaic Scholarship. Each winner is awarded $2,500.
“Education is empowering, and the AVIXA Foundation Scholarship program’s intent is to encourage and enable students from diverse backgrounds who show great potential to pursue careers in the audiovisual field,” said Domenic Screnci, Ed.D., President of the AVIXA Foundation. “Supporting workforce development is core to the Foundation’s mission. To achieve that goal, the Foundation provides opportunities to schools, organizations, and individuals to help fill a flourishing demand for a qualified workforce in the exciting world of AV.”
The AVIXA Foundation’s elAVate Scholarship supports the growth of women and gender equality in the AV industry. This year’s recipient Irene Atafio holds an associate degree in Cyber Forensics Technology from Howard Community College and is currently enrolled in the college’s Audiovisual Technology associate degree program. Ataifo was determined to pursue her passion in audio, despite feeling like it was an unconventional career path for a Black woman. She says today she no longer uses her anxiety to make decisions, but the power of her individuality.
The Michael Vergauwen Scholarship honors the legacy of the late Michael Vergauwen, former COO of AVI Systems and long-time AVIXA board member. This year’s recipient Angelina Jonkaitis is a student at Valencia College studying live entertainment design and production. Jonkaitis is passionate about live audio and began mixing for their high school theater during freshman year. Their dream is to mix for live Broadway shows, but they also love the installation side of AV.
The Mosaic Scholarship was conceived by AVIXA’s Diversity Council in support of further inclusivity within the global AV industry. It seeks to shine a light on young adults whose experience, background, and thinking will positively influence the future of the AV community. This year’s recipient Carter Kucier is studying audio/music production at Lebanon Valley College and has his sights set on a career in live audio. Kucier is the president of the college’s LGBTQ+ organization Freedom Rings. In this leadership role, he has begun a dialogue with the college president, resulting in the pride flag flying on campus permanently and an LGBTQ+ housing option.
In further pursuit of its mission to build more equity and access in the pro-AV industry, the AVIXA Foundation has also presented career advancement packages to three young AV professionals. The recipients are Mahogany Hickman, Studio Production Manager for the University of South Carolina-Beaufort; Carlos Eduardo Ramírez Rosas, AV Designer for G4 Audio y Video; and Elizabeth Pavelko, AV Systems Designer for the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.
To learn more about the AVIXA Foundation’s scholarship program, visit www.avixa.org/scholarships