Two Stamford High School Seniors Awarded Scholarships for Volunteerism

United Way helps ALICE prosper by supporting education and youth success

$5,000 Scholarships Honor Roberta K. Eichler, Former Executive Director of the Stamford Volunteer Center

STAMFORD, Conn. (May 13, 2021) — Two Stamford high school students who are graduating this June have each received a $5,000 scholarship in honor of their exemplary community service. This year’s winners of the Roberta K. Eichler Heart of Gold Scholarships are Emily Lopez, a senior at the Academy of Information Technology and Engineering (AITE) and Brian Villalta, a Stamford resident and senior at Rye Country Day School. Both demonstrated a dedication to the Stamford community by volunteering for many hours throughout their high school years. Biographies and photos of the two winners appear below.
This year’s awards committee received 25 applications. A six-member committee reviewed the applications, met virtually, and made the selection of the winners. Due to social distancing protocols, this year’s awards were presented virtually. The scholarships have been presented for more than 25 years.
“This is always a difficult decision, because each year we have a truly outstanding group of applicants,” said Isabel Almeida, President of United Way of Western Connecticut. “High school students have been making a difference in Stamford through volunteerism, despite the many challenges they have had to face over the past year. We’re proud of these two scholarship winners and know they will go on to be great community leaders.”
The scholarships are made in honor of Roberta K. Eichler, who served as the Executive Director of the Stamford Volunteer Center for more than 20 years.
For more information about the Roberta K. Eichler Heart of Gold Scholarships, contact Isabel Almeida, at 203-297-6725 or

Meet the 2021 Honorees

Brian Villalta won one of the 2021 Heart of Gold Scholarships Brian Villalta is a Stamford resident who will graduate from Rye Country Day School in Rye, New York, this spring. He began his volunteering career in 2018 at the Horizons Summer Enrichment Program, stepping up when a critical staff member had to be out. He helped Horizons smoothly transition in and out of summer and was subsequently named Youth Rookie Volunteer of the Year by the New Canaan Community Foundation. In the following summers, he worked with kindergartners in the Horizons program and taught English Language Learning at Building One Community. During the school year, he is a head tour guide at Rye Country Day School and a leader of the Oral Proficiency Interns program.
Emily Lopez won one of the 2021 Heart of Gold Scholarships Emily Lopez is a senior at the Academy of Information Technology and Engineering (AITE). A member of the National Honor Society, she tutors other students and serves as a mentor as part of the National Spanish Honor Society. She has volunteered for more than 100 hours at Soundwaters and at the Stamford Nature Center. Emily is also a member of Future 5, which helps motivated, under-resourced students in Stamford reach their full potential. During her sophomore year, as a Future 5 member, she volunteered with Inspirica, creating Thanksgiving food bags for low-income families. In her senior year, she was president of the Six Love Tennis Youth Council, yearbook editor for AITE’s school art page, and a member of the Red Cross Club.
“Being a volunteer has always been a passion of mine,” said Emily. “I found out about volunteering opportunities when I was 12. Since then, I have always tried to make the best of my free time to donate it back to my community so I could do my share in helping others and hopefully inspire many other young people like me.”


We share our most heartfelt congratulations to Brian and Emily, and wish them the best in their college careers!