Applications open for the 5th Annual “Dave Vigneault” Political Fellowship

Dave Vigneault

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Applications are now open for the 5th annual “Dave Vigneault Political Scholarship,” for Springfield High School students aspiring to pursue careers in public service.

This $1,000 scholarship, awarded annually, is intended to honor the memory of former state representative Dave Vigneault, a dedicated political activist and advocate for social justice. The scholarship, established after Vigneault’s death from pancreatic cancer on February 13, 2019, aims to encourage young people interested in the political process.

Dave Vigneault, who served as a state representative from Springfield from 1961 to 1972, began his political career as a sophomore majoring in Political Science at UMass. Throughout his life, Vigneault demonstrated an unwavering commitment to public service and political activism. His lasting impact inspired former state representative Paul Caron to spearhead the creation of the Memorial Scholarship Fund.

“The ‘Dave Vigneault Political Scholarship’ honors his lifelong dedication to public service and his belief in empowering young people to participate in the political process,” shared Caron.

Vigneault’s notable journey included joining the Freedom Riders in 1965, traveling to Mississippi to help register black voters. His activism led to his arrest by members of the Nashoba County Sheriff’s Department on charges of disturbing the peace and refusing to obey a police officer.

Ironically, Vigneault found himself arrested by Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price, a member of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, who starred in the 1988 film Mississippi Burning. While incarcerated, Price ominously suggested that Vigneault would be released only to fall prey to “night riders.”

The “Dave Vigneault Political Scholarship” is specifically for Springfield High School students interested in pursuing careers in public service. Caron noted, “Dave dedicated his life to the political process and always took the time to mentor the next generation of political leaders.”

The Scholarship Review Committee, comprised of notable individuals including Springfield City Councilmen Jesse Lederman and Victor DaVila, will evaluate essays submitted as part of the application process. The recipient of the 2023 scholarship will be announced on July 1.

Applications will be reviewed by the eight-member Dave Vigneault Scholarship Review Committee, consisting of:

Former State Representative Paul Caron Tony Cignoli (Springfield Area Political Consultant) Tony Cignoli (Springfield Area Political Consultant) Karen Hart and Mary Moge (daughters of Karel Welch, a close friend of Vigneault’s family and life partner) Springfield City Councilmen Jesse Lederman and Victor DaVila Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi Springfield Firefighter Brian Vigneault (Dave’s nephew)

To apply for a scholarship application, individuals may contact

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