Lena Harmata has been named the Coe Cinquegrana scholarship recipient for 2021-22

College of Education

SUMMARY: Lena Harmata will start her MAT year as the Coe Cinquegrana scholarship recipient for 2021-22. This substantial scholarship will not only cover the cost of her final year at JMU, but will also take care of other debts and needed items as she embarks on her teaching career.

New graduate Lena Harmata cannot believe what happened the last week in April. Even though she has been assured it is for real, she keeps replaying this delightful surprise over in her mind. 

Lena will start her MAT year as the Coe Cinquegrana scholarship recipient for 2021-22. This substantial scholarship will not only cover the cost of her final year of her program, but also take care of other debts and needed items as she embarks on her teaching career.

Upon hearing about her difficult journey as a JMU student, her delight and relief becomes even more endearing. In February 2018, Lena was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and had to withdraw the spring semester of her sophomore year to start chemotherapy and radiation treatments to save her life. Given the time in the semester she withdrew, she was not able to recoup her tuition money.

Returning to JMU for the 2018-19 year, she ended up switching from Elementary Education to Middle Education. Lena stated, "I wanted to switch to middle school so I could support young adolescent learners that could feel isolation, confusion and awkwardness and who may be prone to question whether their life will ever get better -- as I did when I was receiving cancer treatment." She also decided to pursue the Algebra I endorsement as well. She calls teaching Middle School science and math her "sweet spot." 

Dealing with cancer and switching programs caused Lena to be a year behind schedule and put an economic burden on her and her family. For these reasons, she says this scholarship is life-changing. She was so touched by the award that she immediately reached out to thank her donor, Mrs. Betty Coe Cinquegrana. 

Linda Elliott, JMU's Director of Donor Relations, wrote to Lena, relaying the sad news that Betty Coe Cinquegrana passed away in April 2017.  Elliott stated, "With no family remaining, sadly her legacy will go unrecognized by any family members." Mrs. Cinquegrana was featured in the 2014 "Be the Change." 

Elliott shared Mrs. Cinquegrana’s own words about giving back to JMU:

I give in appreciation of having been given to by Madison College and others.  I attended Madison for four years graduating in 1964.  All of my tuition, room and board were paid for by scholarships, primarily state teachers scholarships and work scholarships (either library or dining hall).  I could never have been able to attend college without the help I received.  My mom only had to give me $100 to supplement my college expenses and she had to borrow that $100.  I think the tuition was only about $600 a year, but if you don’t have it, any amount seems impossible to raise.  I thank my teachers at Louisa County High School, who encouraged me to go to college and who helped me with local scholarships my first year at Madison so I didn't have to work that year. 

When Paul and I were preparing our wills and had mentioned relatives who would be beneficiaries of some assets, Paul said the remainder was to go to his high school (DeMatha Catholic High School) and his alma mater (University of Maryland).  I spoke up and said I wanted Madison in the mix, with which he wholeheartedly agreed.  He just hadn't thought of it.  So a word of wisdom to JMU coeds:  Remember Madison when you and your spouse are preparing your wills. 

I started out at Madison as a math major.  I soon realized some business training would be very helpful in getting summer jobs to make some money for books, clothes, etc.  So I changed my major to business education although math was thought to be a more glamorous major.   That business major served me well in teaching and in my personal life helping Paul in his business career.  Therefore I want to give to Madison, to business students and to future teachers.   Paul and I never had children, but I feel good knowing that because of our efforts, Paul and I can help some young people who want to get an education. 

JMU Libraries has a collection of Mrs. Cinquegrana’s papers here.    

Cancer-free for three years and embarking on her graduate program, Lena is excited to continue her volunteer service in schools and is looking to become an AVID tutor at Harrisonburg High School. She is not only grateful for the scholarship but for the amazing faculty she has had in the program, including:

Hollie Bergeron: The most caring and passionate professor that supported Lena through a very difficult semester. With Hollie's support, she showed Lena how much of a positive impact educators can have on their students.

Dr. Shin Ji Kang: For introducing Lena to her passion for teaching diverse learners and teaching her how she can help her students feel seen, heard, and valued in her curriculum and classroom. 

Cindy Moyers: For modeling and teaching the importance of differentiation and how impactful it can be on students and the overall classroom environment.

Dr. Cindy Klevickis: For providing Lena the opportunity to be her Teaching Assistant and lead important conversations about the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks with High School Students at Huguenot High School. Lena is thankful for Dr. Klevickis because she has showed her what teaching the whole learner looks like and how the outdoors is the perfect classroom! 

Dr. Zareen Rahman: For making math instruction come to life through culturally relevant mathematics teaching and being the most influential professor for Lena’s career as a future math educator.

The CoE is so excited for Lena and grateful for all the individuals that help our candidates achieve success.

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Published: Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Last Updated: Monday, January 9, 2023

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