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The SSA Announced This Year’s James R. Smith Scholarship Winner - Its 12th!

An 18-year-old Connecticut high-school senior with his sights set on a career in nursing has been named the winner of the 2016 award under the James R. Smith Scholarship Program of the Shareholder Services Association.

The award - which was announced in March by Scholarship Management Services, the independent organization that administers the program and selects honorees on behalf of the SSA’s board - is open to children and grandchildren of SSA members, and this year it goes to Justin Mercugliano, who lives in Cheshire CT and is an honors student at the town’s high school. Justin, who is the 12th recipient of the annual award, is the grandson of shareholder services veteran and longtime SSA member Peter Descovich.

Justin balances academic excellence with a love of sports and outdoors activities, and plans to enter Pennsylvania’s University of Scranton later this year. The treatment he received for a head injury sustained on the rugby field was a major factor in his decision to focus on nursing as a career. “I was fortunate enough to have a nurse who specialized in concussions,” Justin told the SSA reporter. “I’ve always been a hands-on person, and I enjoy helping people. When I saw how this nurse was able to help me it opened up a wide set of possibilities, in terms of a career.”

Justin, who learned to swim “almost before” he could walk, is a competitive swimmer and diver. He’s also an Eagle Scout. And he serves his town as a junior volunteer firefighter - helping front-line firefighters with equipment care on which their effectiveness depends. He is also an accomplished carpenter. One project was building an Adirondack chair. Others were a shower and a deck. He also built the set for a school play.

And what does he most enjoy when he’s not working? For relaxation he turns to a deep-seated love of fishing - just like his famous grandpa.