Accomplished chemical engineer Amilcare Ramella, who passed away in June 2010, has left $250,000 to establish new scholarships for Niagara College students.
Ramella’s family was at Niagara College on July 12 to announce the donation, and tour Niagara College’s technology facilities. Ramella’s gift has been endowed and will be matched by the Ontario Trust for Student Support to create two new scholarship funds. The principal will remain untouched and the annual interest will be used to provide scholarships every year. The Remo and Ida Ramella Scholarship, named for Ramella’s parents, will provide four $2,500 scholarships annually for students from Welland entering technology programs. The Amilcare Ramella Scholarship will provide a $2,500 scholarship for a student from Welland entering a technology program, and will be renewed annually if the student maintains an 80 percent academic average.
“We’re very grateful for Mr. Ramella’s generosity,” said Sean Kennedy, Vice President of Student and External Relations and CEO of the Niagara College Foundation. “His legacy will create important opportunities for students who might otherwise be unable to pursue their dreams.”
Ramella was born on First Street in Welland. He received BSc and MSc degrees in chemical engineering from Queen’s University in Kingston before joining the research department of Mobil Corporation in New Jersey in 1948. He participated in many successful developments and commercializations of petroleum refining facilities, and made numerous technical contributions that resulted in improved performance of the catalytic reforming process during his career with Mobil. He retired as a research consultant in 1984, with more than 36 years of service, and returned to his hometown in 1987.
Ramella strongly believed in the value of higher education and in supporting others in achieving their goals. His relatives Fred and Joe Tonin, co-executors of his estate – noted how he wanted everyone, no matter what their circumstances, to have the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education.
“His parents were immigrant parents and realized the importance of education. He was the first one of our family to go to university and he was appreciative of that,” said Fred Tonin.
“He wanted to honour his parents and he wanted to give a chance to students in financial need to realize their dreams.”
Because he lived modestly with only a black-and-white television, and no computer – frequently visiting the Welland Library to research topics of interest – they never would have guessed that he had $1 million in funds to be donated to Niagara College, Brock University, Queen’s University and the Welland Library.
They also said that most people Ramella encountered as he lived out his retirement in Welland were not aware of his education level and professional accomplishments.
“They just saw a humble man who walked the streets and talked to him,” said Tonin. “When they read his obituary, they were shocked to find out had these degrees and travelled the world.”
Lynn Russo, director, Development and Alumni Relations, said a gift of Ramella’s magnitude is rare at Niagara College.
“We don’t get many donations at this level or many wonderful gifts from someone’s will, so it’s very exciting for the college, and it’s nice to meet the next of kin here as well,” she said.
“Adding five new scholarships to the technology area is a wonderful boost to that area because there are so many students coming into technology and we know that financial need is one of the biggest barriers to student success.”
Chair of the School of Technology Studies Adel Esayed is well aware of the significant impact the scholarship will have.
“When our students receive a scholarship it means a lot to them,” he said. “I came here as a graduate on a scholarship and I know it makes a big difference in a student’s life.”
The Ramella scholarships will benefit students entering Niagara College’s School of Technology Studies. A leader in advanced technology education, Niagara College offers a range of post-secondary, graduate certificate and apprenticeship programs in construction, computer studies and computer engineering technology, electrical and electronics, mechanical studies, motive power, photonics and skilled trades.
Niagara College offers more than 90 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls and St. Catharines. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, horticulture and esthetics. For more information, visit http://www.NiagaraCollege.ca.
For information, contact:
Lyn Russo, CFRE
Director of Development & Alumni Relations
905-735-2211, ext. 7864