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Fairfield student gets National MS Society scholarship


Volunteer, captain and coach are the usual titles associated with Fairfield’s Caroline Pangallo. But this month, she earned a new one: recipient of the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, 2015 Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Fund Scholarship.

A leader in her community and at school, Pangallo described herself as someone who is eager to reach outside her comfort zones. But little did she know that doing just that would lead her to a new passion.

“I was a little nervous about signing up for AP psychology during my senior year, but I’ve always believed in my ability to rise to a challenge – whether on the basketball court or in the classroom,” she said. “But no one was more surprised than I was when the class engaged me in ways other subjects never did.”

Pangallo, 18 and a graduate of the Fairfield Ludlowe High School, now plans to attend Connecticut College, in New London, to pursue a degree in psychology.

“I want to study psychology, and focus on how it relates to physical performance,” said the varsity basketball point guard. “I’ve learned that the mind influences performance as much as your body does. I think that must be the same thing for people who suffer from debilitating illnesses.”

That insight comes from Pangallo’s experiences with her father, who has been living with the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis since 1990 – seven years before she was even born.

“They say my ability to play as a strong point guard can’t really be taught – it’s innate,” she explained. “I think that’s a gift from my dad.”

As a recipient of the Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Fund Scholarship, Pangallo hopes that she’s also inherited something else from her father that might help with the heavy course load: his mental toughness.

“My dad has been dealt some pretty tough blows, but he just keeps at it,” she said. “I know college isn’t going to be easy, but I do hope that I can find a way to work through and be successful.”

More than 6,500 Connecticut residents, like Pangallo’s father, live with multiple sclerosis, a potentially debilitating disease. The cause is unknown and there is currently no cure. Symptoms can include numbness in the limbs, difficulties with vision and speech, stiffness, loss of mobility and, in some more severe cases, total paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot be predicted.

A high school athlete who aspires to continue her involvement at the college level, Pangallo attributes her athletic ability to her dad.

“I’ve been told that he started having issues with balance around the same time I was learning to walk,” she shared. “He used to be an avid athlete, but he had to give it up when the demands of playing sports became too much for his body to handle.”

Pangallo was recognized by the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter, at its annual Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Scholarship Reception, which was held at the Country Club of Farmington, Thursday, June 4. She is one of 30 students receiving a 2015 scholarship from the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter.

Petit family scholarships are made possible through the Hayley’s Hope and Michaela’s Miracle MS Memorial Fund, which specifically supports the National MS Society, Connecticut Chapter’s family programs, caregivers programs and scholarships. The fund was established in July 2007 by the family to honor the memory of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, who had MS, and her daughters Hayley and Michaela, who were active with the chapter helping raise funds to support scientific research for a cure and local programs for families affected by MS.

Information for the 2016-17 school year scholarships will be available on the National MS Society website on Oct. 1. For more information on MS or for additional information on 2015 MS scholarship criteria, please contact the Connecticut Chapter at 860.913.2550 or visit

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by MINUTEMANNEWSCENTER
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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