Three Springfield students winners of 2021 Dave Vigneault scholarships

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The winners of the 2021 Dave Vigneault Political Scholarship was announced Saturday.

The 2021 recipient was awarded to 18-year-old Tyana Padilla, who recently graduated from Baystate Academy Charter Public School. She will receive a $1,000 scholarship and plans on majoring in Writing at Bennington College in Vermont this Fall.

This year, two $500 scholarships have also been announced after Karen Hart, daughter of Karel Welch, Vigneault’s long time companion, donated another $1,000 after seeing such a diverse background of applicants.

“I think that given the events of the past year, it would be befitting of Dave’s passion to the American Dream, and giving a hand up to support these two young people,” Hart said. 

Recently graduated from Putnam Vocational, Julio Rodriguez of Springfield will receive a $500 scholarship. He plans to attend STCC this Fall and then transfer to a four year college.

Also receiving a $500 scholarship is 18-year-old Duong Thai who graduated this year from Commerce High School. Thai will also be attending STCC this Fall in the Nursing program.

The scholarship was created to pay tribute to former State Representative Dave Vigneault, who died in 2019 from Pancreatic Cancer, and to his lifelong commitment to political activism, Public Service, Social Justice.

“The Dave Vigneault Political Scholarship is committed to continuing his belief in the need to encourage all young people to becoming involved in the political process.”


Vigneault, who had a life-long commitment to Social Justice, was arrested in Mississippi in 1965, after joining the Freedom Riders, and traveling to Mississippi to help register black voters. His arrest and subsequent jailing, served as inspiration for the 1988 movie ‘Mississippi Burning’.

Members of the ‘Dave Vigneault Scholarship Review Committee‘:

  • Paul Caron
  • Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi
  • Springfield City Councilors Jesse Lederman and Victor Davila
  • Springfield Political Consultant Anthony Cignoli
  • Springfield Fire Fighter and Dave Vigneault’s nephew, Brian Vigneault
  • Karen Hart, and Mary Moge, daughters of Vigneault’s longtime companion, Karel Welch

The scholarship award ceremony will be held on Monday, July 12th at 1:30 p.m. in front of Springfield City Hall.

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