The late David J. Vigneault’s legacy of political advocacy was maintained on July 14 with the presentation of the fifth annual scholarship in Vigneault’s memory.
Catherine Thompson received this year’s scholarship, with Shane Dillon receiving a second grant. Karen Hart, a scholarship committee member, generously provided the second grant.
Thompson, a graduate of Central High School, intends to study political science at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. She plans to be involved in university student governance as well as cultural organisations.
Dillon is currently a student at Amherst College, where he studies political science and English. He is the vice president of the student government at his college.
Vigneault, who died in 2019, was a well-known Democratic activist in Springfield, having represented the city in the Massachusetts House from 1961 to 1973. During his service in the House, Vigneault was detained as a “Freedom Rider” in Mississippi for protesting the lack of civil rights for African Americans in that state.
He became well-known for his support of Democratic candidates in the city and region.
City Council President Jesse Lederman called Vigneault “a true warrior” and a “mentor to many” at the scholarship event.
“I can still hear Dave Vigneault’s voice in my ear when I am knocking on doors campaigning,” Lederman said. He added “it is so important to continue the legacy of Dave Vigneault’s support of young people.”
Former state Rep. Paul Caron said that Vigneault was dedicated to civil rights.
Caron said Vigneault’s attitude was “You have to reach out and protect everyone’s rights.”
“Dave often said that for Democracy to survive, we need young people, in each generation, who will equip themselves for a career in public service. Dave mentored and encouraged so many young people, encouraging and inspiring many careers in public service,” Caron said.
Tawreak “Ty” Gamble-Eddington, the first Vigneault Scholarship recipient five years ago, participated in the announcement remotely from Texas. Gamble-Eddington graduated from Yale Law School after receiving a Rhodes Scholarship as an undergraduate at Oxford University. He recently visited with former President Bill Clinton and other Rhodes Scholars.
He is now working in Texas to help expand a Massachusetts tech company there. He said he is “very grateful” to have received the scholarship.
“Dave Vigneault would be overjoyed by all the scholarship winners,” said committee member Tony Cignoli.
In addition to Caron, the Vigneault Scholarship Committee includes Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi, Lederman, City Councilor Victor Davila, Cignoli and family and close friends Brian Vigneault, Karen Hart and Mary Moge.