Family of 9/11 Victim Endows Four-Year Scholarship at PC
Two years ago, Providence College observed the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001, with A Week of Prayer and Remembrance that included a Mass, the dedication of a plaque in memory of six alumni and two MBA students, and a lecture by College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80.
The observation caught the attention of Matthew and Loreen Sellitto of New Jersey, whose 23-year-old son, Matthew C. Sellitto, was killed in the terrorist attacks while working for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center. He wasn’t a PC alum but was the cousin of William H. Haemmerle, III ’90.
“I thought Providence, with the 10th anniversary, did a stellar job in walking students through what happened that day, including the background on terrorism, and how our country became involved in the Middle East,” said Loreen Sellitto. “It was more than just a candlelight service.”
As a result, The Matthew C. Sellitto Foundation donated $50,000 to endow a scholarship at Providence College. Preference will be given to students in financial need from urban environments in New York or New Jersey. Each scholarship will be awarded for four years provided the student remains in good academic standing.
Haemmerle, the foundation’s treasurer and an investment banker in midtown Manhattan, described his cousin as “a champion of the underdog.”
“He was always interested in helping those less fortunate than him, and he had sympathy for anyone who felt like they didn’t fit in,” Haemmerle said.
Matthew Sellitto joined Cantor Fitzgerald in March 2001 as a trainee in the interest rate derivative group. On September 10, 2001, he began a new job arranging medium-term interest rate swaps.
On his second day on the new job, his father drove him to catch the 5:15 a.m. train to New York City. Just a few hours later, Matthew telephoned home.
“He said, ‘This doesn’t look good. Tell everyone I love them,’ and the line went dead,” said Haemmerle.
Haemmerle spent the next days going from hospital to hospital in search of information about his cousin.
“The sad thing was seeing the reaction of everyone else, the people he worked with at Cantor Fitzgerald,” said Haemmerle.
The Matthew C. Sellitto Foundation has raised more than $750,000 through donations and an annual golf tournament. It has awarded scholarships to deserving students and provided financial assistance for the teacher training program of the 9/11 Memorial and Tribute Center. It also endowed a scholarship at Matthew Sellitto’s high school, Seton Hall Preparatory School in West Orange, N.J.
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 neared, the foundation decided to endow scholarships at individual colleges as well, Haemmerle said.
Haemmerle championed the idea of a scholarship at PC. The foundation reached out to Maureen Donaghey '86, senior major gifts officer in the Office of Institutional Advancement. The College responded with an impressive proposal about how it would award and grow the funds to benefit students and continue Matthew Sellitto’s legacy, and the legacies of all who died that day, Loreen Sellitto said.
“Our goal was to make sure our mission and our guidelines were respected,” she said. “We wanted to select an institution we trusted would be able to determine that for itself. Everyone involved did a stellar job in presenting Providence College in the best light — everyone.”
PC was one of two colleges chosen by the foundation. The other was Wesley College, the alma mater of Matthew T. Sellitto, Loreen’s husband and Matthew’s dad.
The Sellittos have additional PC connections through their cousins, Karen Delane Allard '84 and her husband, Thomas A. Allard '84; Kevin J. Delane '87 and his wife, Suzanne Frost Delane '87; and Genevieve M. Ilg '14.
Matthew and Loreen Sellitto are members of the Family Steering Committee of the 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism. They are family sponsors of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which will be introduced by U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) They have attended pretrial hearings of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay and 9/11 Commission hearings in Washington.
“It’s something that both my husband and I need to do as Americans,” Loreen Sellitto said. “I did lose a child, and that is no different than any other mother, but I am a part of history, and I do take that seriously.”
— Vicki-Ann Downing
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