Fund Highlight: Cathyann Roding Performing Arts Scholarship Fund

In a fitting tribute to a valued educator, the Cathyann Roding Performing Arts Scholarship Fund was established with a sold-out celebration where alumni filled the stage to sing in Cathyann’s honor.

Organized by former student Colin Sheehan, the 2017 event reunited leads of memorable spring musicals and gathered a huge choir of students with lives lifted by Cathyann during her 32 years at Branford High School (BHS). For over three decades, Cathyann gifted the Branford community and local non-profits by inspiring students to deliver top-notch concerts, musicals and benefits.

“She’s given so much to the community, and has raised so much money for local organizations, that I knew I wanted to start a scholarship fund in her name that would live on forever,” says Colin.

An incentive option provided by BCF helped reach the fund’s $10,000 establishment goal.

“When I reached out to the Branford Community Foundation, they gave me a great incentive: a $2,000 contribution if we reached our goal of $8,000 over five years. We raised what we needed on the night of her fundraiser. It just shows how much people in the community love Cathyann,” says Colin.

The restricted scholarship is donor-advised, allowing Colin and Cathyann to assist BCF in awarding scholarships. Recipients are graduating seniors who have excelled in the performing arts (dance, instrumental, voice or theatre) as part of a high school experience that will inspire them all their lives.

Cathyann feels very strongly recipients need not be on a path to study performing arts in college, explaining, “…if they were impacted and they made a difference in the program, that’s going to be carried forward in their lives, no matter the career they choose.”

Colin can attest to that. Following a decade of success in New York City entertainment management and production, he returned to Branford to found Colin Sheehan Events. The company assists non-profits with events to maximize fundraising. Colin also joined the BCF board of directors in late 2017.

“If it wasn’t for Cathyann, I wouldn’t have the drive to be doing what I’m doing,” he notes.

Cathyann is deeply humbled to know a BCF scholarship has been established which will continue her legacy of helping shape young lives through their high school performing arts experience.

“It’s one more of the amazing things that I can’t believe has happened,” she says. “It’s phenomenal. Moving on to college is such an expensive endeavor, and any help you can get to help toward that is fabulous; but the thing that matters more than the amount you receive is the recognition and confidence you feel when you’re selected for something. That’s important.”