Scholarships awarded in honor of late priest
FAIRFIELD —Trumbull resident Jim Browning is dedicating an academic scholarship in memory of the late Rev. William “Bill” Sangiovanni.
Browning started a scholarship foundation in 1987 in memory of his brother, Scott Browning, who had died suddenly. The financial assistance aids local students who experience hardship that suppresses their dreams of a college education. While the scholarship has been assisting students at SHU and the University of Bridgeport for 32 years, Browning explained that the gratification of the scholarship goes farther than a simple memorial of his brother.
“In the first couple years, until I had the chance to meet some of the beneficiaries, I never realized the hardship that so many had in going to school,” said Browning. He noted that, while helping students financially is important, meeting them and sharing their stories is what makes the scholarship special—a life lesson he learned from Sangiovanni, who died in February at age 77.
Sangiovanni—or Father Bill, as he was commonly called—was best known for his service in the Diocese of Bridgeport, where he was director of chaplains at Sacred Heart University and then principal, and later president, of Notre Dame High School of Fairfield.
Sangiovanni performed the wedding ceremony for Browning and his wife Sue, delivered the mass at Scott Browning’s funeral and led weekly masses at Sacred Heart that Browning and his family often attended.
More than $800,000 has been raised for the scholarship, which has been awarded to 47 Sacred Heart University students, not including this year’s recipients, and another 16 at the University of Bridgeport. This year’s recipients are William Mastroni ’20, Olivia Okoroafor ’21, Kadijah Needham ’23 and a fourth who will be announced at a later date. The recipients each have a deep-rooted connection to Sacred Heart University, and this scholarship enables them to pursue the education they wanted, regardless of circumstance.