Victoria Leigh Soto ’08 Memorial Fund
Victoria Leigh Soto was a History major as well as Education major at Eastern. She was a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honors Society. On December 14, 2012, she gave her life to protect her first-grade students at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
In 2013, the Department of History established an award in memory of Victoria Leigh Soto ’08 for a graduating senior in the History program, who is a member of Phi Alpha Theta and is planning to make their career in teaching following graduation from Eastern. The recipient of the award is determined by the faculty in the Department of History. The award is presented annually during the Phi Alpha Theta initiation ceremony at Eastern.
For a list of the recent Victoria Soto winners, see here.
2016 winner Annie Chozick described what the award meant to her:
“When I discovered that I would be receiving the Victoria Soto Memorial Award, I felt honored and humbled. I began to think about how Soto impacted the lives of her students. She demonstrated to the world that teaching is not just a job, but also a lifestyle and a commitment to one’s students. Teaching is a profession where teachers spend countless hours planning ways in which they can help their students to grow as learners and as people. Teachers get into the profession to make a difference in the lives of their students. Soto made a tremendous sacrifice so that each child in her classroom had a chance to discover his/her potential. Shockingly, many students do not know just how special they are and they do not know all that they have to offer the world. By giving her life so that her students could live, she left her first-graders with the most important message. Victoria Soto taught them that they were valuable.
This award reminded me of why I am getting into this profession. Soto’s heroic actions remind me of the power that every teacher has to influence their students and to change their lives. My goal as a teacher is to inspire my students to make the most of their lives and to realize their potential. I am eager to begin my career educating children. I plan to honor Victoria Soto in my classroom by fostering a love of learning in my students and a love for themselves and others. Victoria Soto was an extraordinary teacher. I hope that I will make a profound difference in the lives of my students, just as Soto did.”
The first student to receive the History Department Victoria Soto award was Kaitlin Baldi.
The 2014 Victoria Soto Award Recipient was Melissa Zablonski.
If you would like to contribute to the Victoria Leigh Soto Memorial Fund established by the Department of History, please direct your donation to:
History Department-Victoria Leigh Soto ’08 Memorial Fund
ECSU Foundation, Inc.
Eastern Connecticut State University
83 Windham Street
Willimantic, CT 06226
ATTN: Kenneth J. DeLisa
Vice President for Institutional Advancement