“Live Like J”: a scholarship created for a graduate from the southwest | News, Sports, Jobs


A Justin Romaniuk Memorial Grant has been established at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. Submitted photo

After the tragic death of their friend and classmate, a group of Southwestern Central School graduates decided to honor one of their own.

On January 23, 2017, Justin Romaniuk was driving south on Route 60 when his car veered into the other lane and struck oncoming traffic in the city of Charlotte.

A 2015 graduate from Southwestern Central School, Romaniuk attended Jamestown Community College for a year before transferring to the University of Buffalo. At the time of his death, he was just starting the second semester of his sophomore year and was planning to become a math teacher.

“It was so unexpected” his longtime friend Pat Mogenhan said. “We were all 19 (years old) and wanted to do something.”

Mogenhan, with the help of several other friends, set up a GoFundMe page to help Romaniuk’s family pay for the funeral expenses. The fundraiser exceeded its goal and led the group to create a scholarship fund that would keep its memory alive, forever.

“He was so active in the community,” Mogenhan said. “In high school he was a member of the National Honor Society, he was on the football team. I don’t know anyone who could say bad things about him.

Using the #LiveLikeJ hashtag on social media, the group that had just funded their friend’s funeral raised enough money to award a scholarship in his memory.

At the high school‘s annual awards ceremony, the school presented the Justin L. Romaniuk Memorial Bursary to Jordyn Romaniuk and Carolyn Ruby, Romaniuk’s sister and cousin.

“It was kind of our way of honoring Justin’s memory this first year,” Mogenhan said. “Then we started to really work on a way to make this thing durable and represent all of its good qualities.”

The following year, the group worked with a panel of teachers from Southwestern Central School to select a student based on criteria they had in place. Now, they have partnered with the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to ensure that Romaniuk’s memory is preserved forever.

“Many of us were fortunate enough to receive scholarships from the Community Foundation while we were in school and remembered that some of the larger scholarships awarded by our high school were from the Foundation,” Mogenhan said. “We have a long-term view of how we want her scholarship to be awarded and we need the Community Foundation to really get things done. “

The Justin L. Romaniuk Scholarship will be awarded annually to senior athletes graduating from Southwestern Central School, attending a New York State University school, who are good students, who have a positive influence on their peers, and who put others before themselves. Preference will be given to members of the soccer team.

Donations to the Community Foundation scholarship can be made with a credit card by visiting crcfonline.org/livelikej or by sending a check to 418 Spring Street, Jamestown.

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