Eli Mollineaux will never be forgotten at Huntington High School or throughout the community for being an inspirational young man who faced every considerable challenge with his head held high.
The teenager passed away in October 2016 after a lifelong battle against Pearson’s Syndrome, a rare disease triggered by a mutation in the mitochondrial DNA. Mr. Mollineaux was just 15 years old.
In the aftermath of his passing, Mr. Mollineaux’s family and Ilene Messina, a teacher aide in the district who worked with him for many years created the bELIeve Project, which sponsors annual scholarships presented to graduating Huntington seniors.
This year’s bELIeve Project presented Eli Mollineaux Memorial Scholarship Awards in the amount of $1,000 each to 13 members of Huntington’s Class of 2019. The formal presentation was made during the annual senior academic awards ceremony before a crowd of about 325.
As a member of Huntington’s Class of 2019, Mr. Mollineaux would have graduated this past June had his life not been cut short.
“They say people come into our lives for a reason,” Mrs. Messina said. “That was certainly true about Eli Mollineaux. Eli was an inspiration to everyone he met. He was kind, compassionate, always smiling and lived every moment of his life to the fullest. Whether he was telling a joke, sharing his passion for art, giving a hug or high-fiving his friends, Eli spent his time bringing joy to everyone who knew him.”
The 2019 scholarship recipients include Julia Aureliano (University of Rhode Island; psychology), Katherine Burton (Cornell University; biology), Christopher Engle (SUNY College at Oneonta; environmental science), Natalie Gonzalez (SUNY College at Plattsburgh; nursing), Meagan Malone (University of Delaware; history-social studies teaching), Ilsi Martinez Euceda (Suffolk Community College; business management), Noah Morris (Ohio State University; environmental engineering), Jeraine Nieves-Morales (CUNY Guttman Community College), Edgar Rivas Lizama (Suffolk Community College; computer science or mechanical engineering), Samuel Roberts (University of Rochester; biology), Casey Smith (Villanova University; psychology), Phoebe Walther (SUNY College at Geneseo; early childhood education/special education-teaching) and Jenna Yabroudy (Virginia Tech; business management).
“We received a record number of applications for this year’s scholarships and our selection committee carefully read each and every one,” Mrs. Messina said. “Among the recipients are seniors who have experienced heartache and tragedy in their lives. Some have fled poverty and abuse, endured a family separation, the illness of a loved one, a tragic accident and the loss of a loved one and most, if not all, know the pain and sorrow of losing a best friend. Yet, all of these students have maintained a positive and optimistic attitude. They possess a focus and drive not only to reach their goals, but more importantly, to lift others up around them.”
Cameron Mills (University of Delaware; finance) garnered the bELIeve Project: Eli Mollineaux Memorial Spirit Award for 2019. “Cameron has befriended those who might otherwise not have a friend,” Mrs. Messina said. “And he always does the right thing even when the right thing isn’t always the popular thing to do.”
As the 14 seniors assembled together with Mrs. Messina and Mrs. Mollineaux for a commemorative set of photos on the auditorium stage, the crowd offered applause in a wonderful tribute to the scholarship recipients as well as to the memory of a splendid young man.
“We are honoring exceptional Huntington High School seniors who live their lives like Eli, bringing kindness, joy and compassion to others every single day,” Mrs. Messina said.
Eli Millineaux Memorial Scholarship Recipients
2017 Allyson Arleo, Charles Ehrman, Nicholas Lanzisero
2018 Luke Eidle, Alex LaBella, Rachel Moss, Jamie Spector
2019 Julia Aureliano, Katherine Burton, Christopher Engle, Natalie Gonzalez, Meagan Malone, Ilsi Martinez Euceda, Noah Morris, Jeraine Nieves-Morales, Edgar Rivas Lizama, Samuel Roberts, Casey Smith, Phoebe Walther, Jenna Yabroudy