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WCSU scholarship created to honor slain Airman

TJ Lobraico Jr. was a carefree 10-year-old boy when the attacks on the World Trade Center occurred during the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.  A dozen years later on an early September evening in Afghanistan, Lobraico made the ultimate sacrifice in service to his country during his second tour of duty with the New York Air National Guard as a participant in Operation Enduring Freedom.

 

TJ attended community college before his first tour of duty in Iraq in 2010-11, and then transferred to Western to pursue a degree in Justice and Law Administration. TJ volunteered for his second deployment in 2013, this time to Afghanistan.  He died at the age of 22 after saving several members of his squadron when they were ambushed on September 5, 2013.

 

His family has started a scholarship at Western as a way for his memory to live on.

 

Lobraico’s mother Linda Rohatsch, a lieutenant colonel in the Air National Guard and WCSU graduate, commands the 105th Medical Group at Stewart Air Base in Newburgh, New York, the same base that TJ was assigned to, and served a tour of duty in Balad, Iraq. TJ’s father, Todd James Lobraico, is an Air Force veteran of the first Persian Gulf War who serves as a master sergeant with the 105th Security Forces Squadron. He also is a Stamford police officer.

 

The scholarship is for a student entering their junior year studying Justice and Law Administration who, like TJ, had demonstrated active participation in community service and held a part-time job.  Rohatsch says by having the scholarship designated for a junior, it's a student who has shown they are dedicated to getting through their four years and typically the junior year is the hardest to get through. 

 

Qualified applicants are required to submit a short essay that answers the question, “What does service above self mean to you?”  The TJ Lobraico Memorial Scholarship will provide a $5,000 scholarship annually, beginning in the 2014-15 academic year.

 

The goal is to raise $120,000, which is the minimum to be endowed.  It will then be self sustaining through a foundation.  They are almost half way to that goal.

 

Rohatsch says the community, the state, the air base and everyone else has been so kind.  She says she is very thankful for people's genuine kindness.  On behalf of the whole family, she says there really are not enough words for how much they appreciate that.

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