PISCATAWAY, NJ -- Amid the coronavirus pandemic, recent Piscataway High School graduate, Thomas Stewart received some good news that he is a recipient of a Marisa Tufaro Foundation Greater Middlesex Conference Student-Athlete Scholarship.

According to the foundation’s website, each scholarship (there are multiple given) are good for $500 and are given to “exceptional high school seniors from the GMC who have overcome adversity, who strive for excellence academically and athletically, who have engaged in community service and who have been inspired by Marisa’s story to make difference in the lives of others”.

“It was a huge honor,” Stewart said. “I was a freshman when Marisa passed away and being very interested in high school baseball, wrestling, and football, I know who Greg (Tufaro, a local reporter) is. To get an award in her honor felt great. I honestly didn’t think I was going to get it after I heard that they set a record number of applicants. I was ecstatic when I got the news.”

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Stewart was a member of the Chiefs’ varsity baseball team and was expected to be a stronger right-handed arm in the pitching rotation if the season hadn’t been cancelled. He also wrestled this past winter.

Off the field, he volunteered with the township’s Buddy Ball (Sports) program and with the Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health’s Safety Ambassador Program, and was a member of the school’s Key Club. He also held jobs with Piscataway Aftercare and Summer Camp.

Run by Vinny Stio, Buddy Ball helps special needs students engage and learn a variety of sports skills in addition to upping their social skills in a fun and safe environment.

“Mr. Stio was an old teacher of mine and my aftercare boss from the year before,” Stewart said. “When he offered for me to come help out I accepted right away. Over the summer I had the privilege to help out a special needs student at summer camp and when she saw me at Buddy Ball her face lit up. It’s why I did it.”

The Key Club is the largest and oldest youth organization run by students. Stewart joined as a junior last year, as a general member.

“I planned on running for an office position, but the time commitment was more than I could handle with baseball and working. I helped with volunteer work like shake-a-can and selling candy boxes to raise money for various charities,” Stewart said.

During his time at PHS, Stewart earned a 3.4 grade-point average, and in addition to his aforementioned duties, he spent time with the Piscataway Soccer Club and PHS Booster Club doing setup, cleanup, and concession sales when he could.

This fall, Stewart will attend The College of New Jersey. It is unclear whether he will play baseball, but he plans on trying out. If not, he is looking to do stats for both baseball and wrestling.

Stewart is set to major in Data Science.

“My sophomore year I had a math teacher that put a huge spark in me to pursue mathematics, but especially secondary education,” Stewart said. “I have since strayed away from the teaching aspect, but I am still interested in math. I was drawn in by the small class size and very inclusive campus style. I’ll also be close to my family which is important to me.”

In July, Stewart will play for Piscataway in the Last Dance baseball tournament. For more on that, stay tuned to TAPinto Piscataway.

Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.

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