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Vastola (Service: UNICAN)
Rizzuto (Service: Non-UNICAN)
Cianci (Humanitarian)
Marconi (Science)
    • Application Letter
    • Application
Philip Mazzei (Americanism)
    • Grand Patriot
    • William Paca Award
    • Civis Illustris Award
Scrapbook/DVD Award

Athletic (Amateur & Professional)
    • Vincent T. Lombardi (pro)
    • Dr. D.M. Nigro Memorial

Joseph Coccia, Jr. Heritage, Language and Culture Award

2015 UNICO National Scholarship Recipients

The Scholarship Committee proudly presents the recipients of our 2015 UNICO National Awards:

Major Don S. Gentile Memorial Scholarship: Matthew Anthony Casterella

Sponsored by the St. Joe’s HS Montvale, NJ Chapter,  Judged in New York

William C. Davini Memorial Scholarship: Thomas William Kessler

Sponsored by the Greater Ramsey, NJ Chapter, Judged in Wisconsin

Alphonse A. Miele Memorial Scholarship: Bryce Andrew Badura

Sponsored by the National Office for Virginia, Judged in Florida

Theodore Mazza Memorial Scholarship: Olivia W. Gugliemini

Sponsored by the Brick, NJ Chapter, Judged in New Jersey

Confirmed by the Review Committee


Sgt. John Basilone Memorial Scholarship: Celeste Raphael Carano

Sponsored by the National Office for Washington, DC, Judged in New Jersey


Dr. Benjamin J. Cottone Memorial Scholarship: Michael A. DiIorio

Sponsored by the National Office for Massachusetts, Judged in Pennsylvania


Bernard and Carolyn Torraco Memorial Nursing Scholarships

Sybil Aisha Bleus

Sponsored by the Massachusetts District III

Merry Kay Chernosky

Sponsored by the San Antonio, TX Chapter

Nicole Shay Dauksavage

Sponsored by the National Office for Texas

Kristin Jane Donadio

Sponsored by the Orange/West Orange, NJ Chapter

Catherine E. Fonseca

Sponsored by the Orange/West Orange, NJ Chapter

Alison Clare George

Sponsored by the Waterbury, CT Chapter

Madeline Faye Jacobs

Sponsored by the National Office for Wisconsin

Julie Anna Kochersperger

Sponsored by the Highland Beach, FL  Chapter

Oguaha Chikwelu Nnanyelu

Sponsored by the National Office for California

Mari A. Quinn

Sponsored by the Scranton, PA Chapter

Nicole York

Sponsored by the Raritan Valley, NJ Chapter

Farah Zaheer

Sponsored by the National Office for New York   


DiMattio Celli Family Study Abroad Scholarship

Stephen Gerard Piccininni

Sponsored by the National Office for New Jersey

Christina Marie Simonetti

Sponsored by the Rockaway Township, NJ Chapter


Ella T. Grasso Literary Scholarship

Kathryn Helena Kerr

Sponsored by the Scranton, PA Chapter

Dominic Carl Conti

Sponsored by the Santa Barbara, CA Chapter

These candidates demonstrated exceptional qualifications. The scholastic achievements, extra curricular activities and community service projects of the applicants are remarkable and worthy of recognition. Selecting the recipients was extremely difficult.

We extend our thanks and congratulations to all participating Chapters. By providing your nominees with the opportunity to apply, you have demonstrated great respect for, and appreciation of their accomplishments.

2015 Award Recipients

Dr. Anthony P. Vastola Award:

Ralph Contini, Sponsored by: Hackensack, New Jersey Chapter of UNICO

Ralph Contini joined the Cliffside Park Chapter of UNICO in 1983 and transferred to the Hackensack Chapter in 2006.  He served UNICO National, both New Jersey Districts VI and VII, and the Hackensack and Cliffside Chapters with distinction.  

Ralph has chaired the UNICO National Columbus Day celebration since 1996, earning him the nickname of "Mr. Columbus" in his Chapter and District.  In addition, he is the Chair of the Advanced Placement Italian Language Committee.  He has served on many National Committees, and held the position of District Governor and the Eastern Regional District Governor.

Ralph has readily accepted and discharged any responsibilities given him and in many instances, has offered his service without being asked.



Basilone Freedom Award:

General Anthony Zinni, Retired  Sponsored by: Greater Ramsey, New Jersey Chapter of UNICO 

Anthony Charles Zinni is a retired United States Marine Corps general and a former Commander in Chief of the United States Central Command.  In 2002, he was selected to be a special envoy for the United States to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

While serving as a special envoy, Zinni was also an instructor in the Department of International Studies at the Virginia Military Institute. As of 2014, he serves as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Middle East Institute.  He has been named Honorary Chairman of that institution.

General Zinni also serves as an Honorary Board Meber of the Non Profit Wine Country Marines - a 501(c)3 dedicated to helping wounded service members, and aiding the welfare of currently serving service members, as well as addressing veterans employment and transition and welfare.

Louis Attilio DeFillipo Award:

Captain Charles Gatlin Retired  Sponsored by: West Essex, New Jersey Chapter of UNICO

Charles Gatlin is a retired United States Army Captain,  In 2006, he was deployed in Kirkuk, Iraq.  While outside of his base, a car bomb detonated less than 30 yards from where he was standing.  The left back side of his body sustained the brunt of the impact. The explosion and its subsequent forces (blast, debris flying, etc.) resulted in him losing consciousness. He regained consciousness and was medevaced to Balad Air Force hospital and diagnosed with a moderate traumatic brain injury (TBI).

At the time, the true consequences of the war's invisible injuries of TBI and post-traumatic stress were not recognized and appreciated. Since then, Captain Gatlin and his wife, Ariana DelNegro, have worked tirelessly to bring awareness to the challenges service men and women have faced in their recovery process. Both have testified before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Philip Mazzei Americanism Award-Civis Illustris:

Joseph M. Arpaio, Sponsored by: San Diego, California Chapter of UNICO

Joseph Arpaio is known as "America's Toughest Sheriff," a name given to him years ago by the media.  It's a name he has certainly earned as head of the nation's third largest Sheriff's Office, with more than 3,500 sworn and civilian employees, serving a county of over 4 million people.

In 1992, Arpaio successfully campaigned to become Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona and has since been elected to an unprecedented six 4-year terms. During his tenure as Sheriff, Arpaio has consistently earned extraordinarily high public approval ratings. He is the longest serving sheriff in Maricopa County history.

Marconi Science Award:

Piero Rinaldo, M.D., Ph.D. Sponsored by: Greater Ramsey, New Jersey Chapter of UNICO

Dr. Piero Rinaldo was born in Venezia, Italy and received his medical and research training at the University of Padova in Italy and Yale University. Currently, he serves as co-director of the Biochemical Genetics Laboratory in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the Mayo Cliniic in Rochester, MN, which he started and is the largest one of its kind. Dr. Rinaldo is a Professor of Laboratory Medicine and the T. Denny Sanford Professor of Pediatrics, he also holds joint appointments in the Department of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine and in the Department of Medical Genetics.