2023 NCCS Scholarship Recipient Profiles

Congratulations to the ten exceptional Scouts awarded NCCS Scholarships in 2023. Each winner demonstrates outstanding leadership and service in four areas: Church, community, school, and Scouting, earned the Eagle, Summit, or Quartermaster award, and at least one of the following, Ad Altare Dei, Pope Pius XII, or Light is Life (Eastern Rite) Religious Emblem. Find out more about NCCS scholarships.

  • Name: Jack Gros
  • Age: 18
  • Hometown: Oakland, California
  • Home parish: Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Piedmont, California
  • Home diocese/eparchy: Dioceses of Oakland
  • Scout unit and council: BSA Troop 6, in the Piedmont Council
  • College: accepted at several, making decision soon
  • Field of study: Civil Engineering

Jack is deeply committed to serving others, his parish community and protecting the environment. The pandemic pushed him into a leadership role – keeping his Scouting unit alive during the many dark months of restrictions and helping his fellow Scouts learn, grow and have fun during the darkest days.

Throughout my Scouting career, I have been thrown into new positions and situations that pushed me far outside of my comfort zone. During the pandemic, I was asked by my Scoutmaster to lead our troop through the difficult times ahead,” said Jack. “I recognized that keeping the community anchor of Scouting as a part of people’s lives while we were trapped at home was incredibly important and I worked hard to keep it going.”

For his Eagle project, Jack took on the extremely challenging project of building a 160 foot long fence to keep people and dogs on the trails at Dimond Canyon Park and protect a local environmentally sensitive creek – all without the benefit of power tools, per city regulations.

In addition to my project being important from an environmental standpoint, my Eagle project helped Friends of Sausal Creek streamline and reduce the time to get projects approved by the City of Oakland,” said Jack. “Prior to my project, Friends of Sausal Creek did not have a documented process for working with the city to approve fence projects. Part of my project was to determine the approvers, the process for requesting approval and obtaining approval.”

Jack sums up his commitment to service in a simple way: “One of the most integral things in my life is service. I credit Scouts for this awareness of the impact we can make through service to people, to our community, and to our environment.”

Read press release about Jack’s NCCS Scholarship award.

  • Name: Bridget Brady
  • Age: 18
  • Hometown: Byrum, New Jersey
  • Home parish: St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Sparta, New Jersey
  • Home diocese/eparchy: Diocese of Paterson
  • Scout unit and council: BSA Troop 1150, Patriots’ Path Council
  • College: Catholic University of America
  • Field of study: Psychology

Through Scouting, Bridget has discerned her life calling to become a therapist and help people struggling with mental health issues, which affected more people more deeply during the isolation and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic.

“A good therapist is a servant leader helping other people to find peace in their lives. In doing so, I will honor my promise to “help other people at all times” while assisting them to remain “mentally awake and morally straight.” This is a perfect use of the lessons I learned in Scouting and how I can continue to live the Scout Oath and Law. Mental health is such an overlooked issue in our society and my desire to assist those that may be struggling stems from the values that I have learned in Scouting, specifically: helpful, friendly, kind and brave.”

For her Eagle project, Bridget sought to bring comfort to group home residents in her area facing isolation during the pandemic. She raised over $3,000 and collected hundreds of pounds of donated craft materials, books, games and other items and then assembled program boxes to meet the individual needs of nearly 200 residents of 23 group homes in her community. These program boxes eased loneliness of group home residents who needed to stay home and not have visitors during the early months of the pandemic to avoid spread of illness.

“The residents of the group homes benefitted from my project because they were able to remain comfortable during the day when they could not leave their residence. Before the pandemic and now that restrictions have been lifted, they attend a daily program focused on something that interests them such as crafting or gardening. When they lost the ability to do these things, I was able to assist them in remaining active and engaged when so many others were suffering in isolation.”

Bridget is committed to continue serving others and giving back throughout her life.

I choose to live a life where I participate in society and extend the charitable beliefs of the Catholic Church and Scouting. When we all are able to live our lives by giving of ourselves every day, society is better for it. Volunteering sends a powerful message to those who benefit – it acknowledges their need and shows them that there are those who care and will help.”

Read press release about Bridget’s NCCS Scholarship award.

  • Name: Salvatore C. Aloisio
  • Age: 18
  • Hometown: Mankato, Minnesota
  • Home parish: Ss Peter and Paul in Mankato, Minnesota
  • Home diocese/eparchy: Diocese of Winona-Rochester
  • Scout unit and council: BSA Troop 3384, Northern Star Council
  • College: Minnesota State University – Mankato
  • Field of study: Pre-Law

Salvatore is deeply committed to the Catholic faith and to helping restore prairie in his home state of Minnesota. For his Eagle project, Salvatore constructed mason bee houses to help one of nature’s great pollinators survive and thrive – and help restore prairie grasses and flowers in a state park near Mankato.

Minneopa State Park is located in a region in the Midwest that used to be home to the great prairie. The prairie has since
been almost completely destroyed and the park is currently making efforts to restore the native prairie to the land
within the park’s boundaries. I expressed interest several years ago in helping in the effort to restore the prairie,
and the ranger told me that there were several things I could do to help, one of them being a conservation project
which would attract bees, increasing pollination. A prairie requires constant pollination in order to survive because
of the large amount of species diversity, and Minneopa was not getting the pollination that they needed to restore
the prairie. I decided that to help the park with this problem, I would construct 50 bee houses and install them
around the recently constructed prairie nursery.

Salvatore was hoping to attract a certain type of bee.

Mason bees are known for their “messiness•, which is very good for pollination. Where honeybees pollinate
one flower, mason bees pollinate 20. I felt that it was the perfect fit for Minneopa. In the fall of 2020, I constructed
the bee houses. My troop helped me, and we were able to build 51 of them, 30 more than the park said they
needed. The holes were the size proven to be the most favorable size to mason bees, and the entry end of the
house was at an angle to protect against the weather. I installed the houses that fall, and in the spring found that
the bees had used my houses. The way you tell if a bee has used the house is in use is if mud is covering the
entrance of the holes. If the eggs survived, there would be mud with a small hole in the middle, where the bees
dug out of the house.

Salvatore says the houses have continued to be used and he will replace weathered ones with new houses soon. When Salvatore sets a goal in service of his community, the environment or the Church, he is tenacious in reaching that goal.

My dream is to become a lawyer or politician so that I can continue fighting for the causes I believe in. I have
wanted this for a long time and will do almost anything to achieve my goal. I set a goal to achieve Eagle-I accomplished it. I set a goal to earn all of the religious emblems-I accomplished it. I set a goal to earn all of the merit badges (139)-1 accomplished it. I set a
goal to graduate with honors-I accomplished it.

Salvatore sums up his love of services like this: “I cannot express enough how much volunteering means to me. The satisfaction that comes with every minute of it is something that cannot be replicated doing anything else. I will always continue to volunteer as long as I am physically able.”

Read press release about Salvatore’s NCCS Scholarship award.

  • Name: Sean Castillo
  • Age: 18
  • Hometown: Liberty Township, Ohio
  • Home parish: St. Maximilian Kolbe in Liberty Township, Ohio
  • Home diocese/eparchy: Archdiocese of Cincinnati
  • Scout unit and council: BSA Troop 914, Dan Beard Council
  • College: TBD
  • Field of study: Seminary

For his Eagle project, Sean worked to bring his parish priest’s vision for a Marian courtyard to life.

“The main focus of the project was the construction of a 4-course curved retaining wall made from Allan Block in the middle of the courtyard area….After the wall was constructed, the previously excavated soil, along with purchased topsoil, was replaced behind the wall to create a nice, flat space that now occupies most of the courtyard….This will make it easier for handicapped and elderly parishioners to move about the courtyard since they will not have to worry about moving around an uneven hill. The flat space also allows benches and kneelers to be added more easily.”

Sean’s project also called for the removal of dead rose bushes from the courtyard and the building of a concrete pedestal upon which a status or Mary will be placed. It took Sean, fellow Scouts and other volunteers 14 days – a total of 350 hours of labor – to complete the project.

Sean also volunteers in many other ways at his home parish and in his community. He’s volunteered more than 800 hours at his parish, as an altar server, Eucharistic minister, youth group leader and retreat leader. In his community Castillo served with Matthew 25: Ministries, an international humanitarian aid and disaster relief organization. He also volunteered with the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati.

“Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Matthew that ‘…whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ When I serve out of love for God’s children, I serve God himself. There’s no better way to express love for another or love for God than through the service of volunteering.”

Sean says, “as a Catholic, I am called to be of service to others. No matter my state in life, I am called to make a gift of myself to others just as Jesus gave Himself to us on the Cross… There’s no better way to express love for another or love for God than through service.

Read press release about Sean’s NCCS Scholarship award.

  • Name: Luciano Grande
  • Age: 18
  • Hometown: Lancaster, New York
  • Home parish: Our Lady of Pompeii in Lancaster, New York
  • Home diocese/eparchy: Diocese of Buffalo
  • Scout unit and council: BSA Troop 601, Greater Niagara Frontier Council
  • College: St. Fisher University
  • Field of study: Childhood Education

For his Eagle project, Luciano led a team of 50 Scouts and other volunteers in cleaning 500 veterans’ headstones at St. Augustine Cemetery to show respect for their service. The project also included landscaping flowerbeds, edging walkways and trimming the areas around all the markers. Luciano gathered donated supplies, including food to feed his large team of volunteers, from many local businesses. Luciano says the end result was well worth the work – and benefited not only the families visiting the cemetery but also everyone who volunteered.

“The project benefited veterans and veterans’ loved ones. When they came to visit that Memorial Day, the cemetery had beautifully landscaped flowerbeds, edged walks, and cleaned & trimmed gravestones. This event was purposely timed to be the Saturday before Memorial Day in preparation for the many visitors that Holiday weekend. I wanted the community to enjoy the results of the project. Being able to honor the veterans was an extremely rewarding project, as it brought family and friends together, while also supporting the community. Not only veterans and veterans’ families benefit from the event but the volunteers benefited too because they experienced the sense of community.”

Catholic Scouting has helped Luciano discern his life’s calling.

“Boy Scouts was the first experience that sparked my desire to teach. Leadership positions such as Senior Patrol Leader, National Youth Leadership Training Staff, and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster have inspired me to pursue an undergraduate degree in Childhood Education, which will be followed by a Masters Degree, so that I will be able to teach grades 1-6 in New York state. I have enjoyed teaching the younger Scouts what I have learned during my years in scouting. Their willingness to learn and their energy towards their endeavors is inspirational.”

When asked why volunteering is important to him, he responded, “Being involved in the community has allowed me opportunities to help those that are in need. These opportunities are even more satisfying when they are completed alongside family and friends. Helping people alongside those that you care about is such a surreal and inspirational experience. Volunteering within a community truly helps develop a strong bond while working together.”

Read press release about Luciano’s NCCS Scholarship award.

  • Name: Eli Ramthun
  • Age: 18
  • Hometown: Hudson, Wisconsin
  • Home parish: St. Patrick in Hudson, Wisconsin
  • Home diocese/eparchy: Diocese of Superior
  • Scout unit and council: BSA Troop 9148, Northern Star Council
  • College:
  • Field of study: Pre-Med

For his Eagle project, Eli spearheaded a project to remove an old, very tall and potentially dangerous flagpole in front of St. Patrick Catholic School, which he attended. He replaced it with a new, more durable and safer pole.

This required me to pick out a new flagpole, plan out several days of work, organize a group of Scouts to assist in the manual labor of the project, and purchase or borrow equipment needed for the project. One of the first challenges and areas of growth for me was
learning to communicate clearly, confidently, and concisely to a diverse group of people. The project required communication with the church benefactors, the city for rules and regulations, utility companies, businesses for materials and donations. and finally my fellow scouts for execution of the plan that I put together.

Eli didn’t just feel a sense of accomplishment about the new improved display of our American flag at his parish school, he also felt a sense of pride in pushing himself outside his comfort zone and growing as a person.

As a person with a naturally shy, introverted, and reserved personality, completing the Eagle project challenged me the most to grow as a leader, a communicator, a listener, and a motivator. I had never lead anything up to that point, especially something of large magnitude like my project. At first the project seemed very daunting, but over time my confidence and skill grew and I became more comfortable in leading the project. It helped me to grow as a person by building my leadership and communication skills while showing me the results of hard work and discipline. I learned how to motivate others and inspire them to work hard. I continue to use the lessons and skills I acquired each and every day. The growth I had as an individual have truly impacted me and set me up for future success.

Catholic Scouting has helped Eli set his future career goals.

Living the Scout Law and being a disciple of my faith, I think beyond myself looking for ways to make other lives better. I plan to use this foundation in my career path as well. My plan is to either pursue a medical degree or work in research with the goal of serving and helping others. Whether treating patients as a doctor or looking to cure diseases as a researcher, I look for my career to being serving the greater good, to help those that need help, and do good works.

Eli sums up his commitment to service like this: “I have come to appreciate and learned the importance of the Scout Oath of “help other people at all times”. I plan to keep this Oath at the forefront of how I lead my life. That along with my strong Catholic faith that has taught me that volunteering and serving is a sign of God’s love has made volunteering a foundation of who I am and who I strive to be.”

Read press release about Eli’s NCCS Scholarship award.

  • Name: Mark Rowell
  • Age: 18
  • Hometown: Marietta, Georgia
  • Home parish: St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church, Roswell, Georgia
  • Home diocese/eparchy:
  • Archdiocese of Atlanta,
  • Scout unit and council: BSA Troop 0008, Atlanta Area Council
  • College: Mercer University
  • Field of study: TBD

Mark’s Eagle project helped him restore and beautify a place near and dear to his heart, the Historic Marietta City Cemetery, which was established in 1834. The State of Georgia maintains the property and didn’t have funds to restore the 60-year-old cemetery gazebo and the old iron benches within it. That’s where Mark and his fellow Scouts stepped in. First Mark had to get permission from the State of Georgia to do the work, then his crew set about removing old paint, dirt, mold and mildew and repainting the gazebo and benches, and cleaning brick walkways in and around the structure.

“As a native Georgian who has spent many hours since age seven in the Marietta Cemetery with historical reenacting activities, I was very proud that my crew and I were able to provide to the local community and state this valuable restoration. The Historic Downtown Marietta Cemetery now sports a like-new 60+year-old brick and wood Gazebo, its five shiny benches ready for safer use, and the clean brick walkways and surrounding areas for visitors to traverse the areas to experience, reflect, and enjoy.”

Mark served as an altar server for eleven years, and he’s also been an usher, lector and Youth Group Leader at his parish, along with assisting with religious education classes and Vacation Bible School. He’s also volunteered on Knights of Columbus projects and in other ministries. In 2023 Rowell was named as the Outstanding Teen Volunteer for St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church. In his community, Rowell volunteered ten years with the Cobb County Fire Station #14, supported and befriended the elderly at St. George Village, and worked at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry for eleven years. He’s also volunteered for non-profits providing food for the homeless, helping pregnant women in need and in multiple other community groups throughout his community. Mark says his deep and long-standing commitment to service is a life-long calling.

“Helping other people at all times’ is not only a phrase, it is a calling to be concerned with the challenges of our fellow citizens. Service to others, especially on behalf of the less fortunate, is a tangible way to minister to others and make them aware that God’s love and mercy are available to every person.”

Read press release about Mark’s NCCS Scholarship award.

  • Name: Luke Mosca
  • Age: 18
  • Hometown: Paramus, New Jersey
  • Home parish: Our Lady of Mercy in Park Ridge, New Jersey
  • Home diocese/eparchy: Archdiocese of Newark
  • Scout unit and council: BSA Troop 80, Northern New Jersey Council
  • College: Case Western Reserve
  • Field of study: Pre-Med

For his Eagle project, Luke merged his respect for and desire to serve former U.S. military service members with his passion for helping other people improve their health through a unique drive to collect vitamins for distribution at a local food pantry that serves veterans.

After my project was approved by my troop and local council, I designed a unique title and logo, which was “Vitamins for Veterans.” I reached out to my church, middle and high schools, and local pharmacies and grocery stores and asked if I could collect at those locations. After gaining permission, I recruited my fellow Scouts and volunteers to help me promote my project extensively through social media announcements, speeches after all the Masses one weekend at my church, and handing out flyers in both English and Spanish.

After the collection phase of my project had concluded, my volunteers and I sorted all of the vitamins based on type over a weekend al my home and ensured that !hey were new, scaled, and not expired. Overall, I had collected over 600 bottles of vitamins…and received $885 in cash and checks from donors who couldn’t purchase vitamins, which completely surpassed my expectations. I utilized the leftover funds from my project to purchase blood glucose and blood pressure monitors at wholesale cost via a local pharmacy.

The greatest reward for me during this six-month project was when a former Navy Machinist Mate on the USS Detroit finished selecting his vitamins and slowly turned toward me, saying, “This is the best service project I have ever seen conducted for veterans. It’s so unique and you make me so filled with hope about the future of this country.”

Luke hopes to continue his passion for helping others preserve or restore their health by becoming a doctor.

Since I was a small child, I have aspired to become a doctor. Medicine is an extraordinary missionary field that provides an opportunity to affect and transform people’s lives in a profound way. I am motivated to pursue this profession not because of monetary incentives, but for the incredible prospect of directly serving others each and every day. Using my gifts and talents to guide a greater purpose in my life and the lives of others, I aspire to follow in the footsteps of Saint Luke and ultimately hope my patients refer to me as Saint Luke’s did as the Beloved Physician.

“For as long as I can remember, volunteering has been central to all my lived experiences…As a devout lifelong Catholic and dedicated Eagle Scout, I value the importance of helping others and exerting a meaningful impact on the world… Volunteering is my way of showing God that I appreciate his blessings and seek to do His will.”

Read press release about Luke’s NCCS Scholarship award.

  • Name: Robert Riordan
  • Age: 18
  • Hometown: Alpharetta, Georgia
  • Home parish: St. Ann in Alpharetta, Georgia
  • Home diocese/eparchy: Archdiocese of Atlanta
  • Scout unit and council: BSA Troop 287, Atlanta Area Council
  • College: Mercer University
  • Field of study: TBD

For his Eagle project, Robert (who goes by Bobby) removed a dilapidated wooden boardwalk in the Chattahoochee River National Recreational Area and replaced it with a 16-foot-long wooden bridge.

“The old boardwalk was rotting, about to collapse into the stream, and in dire need of replacement. It sat too low and acted as a “beaver dam” collecting debris when the water levels rose. My new boardwalk benefits the visitors to the park allowing them to always pass across the stream and through the wetlands. The new boardwalk was built higher, so it was no longer laying on the ground and now allows the water levels to flow more easily under it.”

Bobby’s project required the involvement of professional construction consultants, engineers and a Cultural Affairs Officer of the National Park Service to ensure that the project would not disturb Native American archeological sites or negatively affect the stream and wetlands.

“To say my project was hard is an understatement. However, I wanted to complete a lasting project that one day I can take my children to see. My Eagle Scout project was commended [by] the Park Ranger, because of its size and the money it saved the park.”

In service to the Catholic Church, Bobby served as an altar server, assisted with bingo games for local people with disabilities and participated in two mission trips with Catholic Heart Work Camp. He’s volunteered at local food kitchens and aided the homeless through 7 Bridges to Recovery. Bobby made a significant impact on his community through Scouting while working on Citizens in the Community merit badge. When he learned that a vape shop wanted to open in his city, he made a presentation to the city council about the danger and negative influence vaping would have on the children in the community, persuading all ten councilmembers to vote against giving the vape shop a permit.

Bobby sums up his commitment to serving others simply: “Volunteering is important to me because of the personal relationships created with the people I am serving. I believe we personally encounter God when we use our head, heart, and hands to help others.” 

Read press release about Bobby’s NCCS Scholarship award.

  • Name: Nicholas Mahoney
  • Age: 18
  • Hometown: Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Home parish: Sacred Heart of Jesus, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Home diocese/eparchy: Diocese of Harrisburg
  • Scout unit and council: BSA Troop 538, Susquehanna Council
  • College: University of Notre Dame
  • Field of study: Pre-Med

For his Eagle Scout project, Nicholas oversaw the reconstruction of a flag retirement mailbox at
his local American Legion Post, and shared information about the mailbox, along with proper
flag usage and disposal etiquette.

“In speaking with our local American Legion Post, I realized that there was a community need for proper flag retirement of our country’s symbol of freedom. An outdated and disheveled mailbox had been placed years ago at the American Legion, but not many community members knew they could drop off tattered flags for retirement at this local post. I took the lead and contacted local business people to figure out how to revitalize and publicly display more information so that our U.S. flag would be properly disposed of.”

Nicholas unveiled the reconstructed mailbox at a special Veterans Day community ceremony with the American Legion Post and his troop helped respectfully retire old, tattered flags brought in by community members.

“The Veterans Day Ceremony entailed inviting [the] local congressman and other community leaders, organizing the scout troop with enough scouts to actively participate in the flag retirement ceremony, and also finding a large outside speaker system because of the anticipated crowd for this event. It was a truly successful event, with over 200 people attending from the community and Scouting.”

Since Nicholas completed his project in November 2019, over 800 flags have been properly retired at the local American Legion Post. Nicholas has also served his community in many other ways. At his parish, he was an altar server, choir member, usher and a retreat leader. He has supported Birthright and Helping Hands charities in his diocese, volunteering his time and leading donation drives. Nicholas has also volunteered for Toys for Tots, the Union County Food Bank, Relay for Life, American Legion public events and Wreaths Across America. He also contributed many hours to community cleanups and local and state parks projects, as well as planting trees at Lewisburg Memorial cemetery and helping rebuild the steps at the sports complex for his local school district.

“My first-grade teacher made it clear that joy comes from serving ‘Jesus, Others, then Yourself.’ This message has stuck with me throughout my life. Serving Jesus and others before myself is how I strive to live each day, and volunteering my time and talent helps me to know that I am serving the Lord by caring for His people.”

Read press release about Nicholas’s NCCS Scholarship award.

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