WESTPORT, Mass. — Miss America 2001, Angela Perez Baraquio, who devoted much of her title year to calling attention to the importance of character and values education, will be the speaker at the annual Fall Scholarship Dinner to benefit students attending Catholic schools in the Fall River Diocese.
Sponsored by the Foundation for the Advancement of Catholic Education or FACE, formerly the St. Mary’s Education Fund, the Fall Scholarship Dinner will take place November 10 at White’s of Westport beginning with a 5:30 p.m. reception.
Perez Baraquio is the eighth of 10 children born of Filipino immigrants who traveled to America in search of a better life for their family. Thirty years later their daughter broke ground and made history becoming the first Asian-American woman, the only Filipina woman, and the first teacher to win the title of Miss America since the pageant’s inception in 1921.
As Miss America 2001, Perez Baraquio visited more than 40 states and traveled 20,000 miles a month on a national speaking tour called, “Character in the Classroom: Teaching Values, Valuing Teachers.”
She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s in educational administration in part with scholarship money won through the Miss Hawaii and Miss America competitions. She taught as an elementary teacher in a Catholic school for five years and hosted a television show in Hawaii.
From 2006-2008 she served as a President George W. Bush’s appointee to the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.
Perez Baraquio now resides in Southern California with her husband and their four children. She is currently the principal of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School in Gardenia, Calif., and, in addition, along with her husband owns a Polynesian entertainment company. She recently completed a memoir, entitled “Amazing Win, Amazing Loss: Miss America Living Happily, Ever After.”
She also continues to travel all over the country sharing with groups her personal story of adversity, triumph, tragedy and hope.
The annual Fall Scholarship Dinner is one of two principal yearly fund-raisers that support FACE. In the current school year alone, FACE has granted $709,675 in need-based financial scholarships to more than 750 students enrolled in Catholic elementary, middle and high schools throughout the diocese.
In all, since the early 1990s, almost 9,000 students have received financial help from FACE and the former St. Mary’s Education Fund.
In a letter on this year’s FACE Fall Dinner, Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., pointed out to prospective donors that, “By investing in our schools, we also invest in the future of our Church and the well-being of our broader community.”
The Fall Scholarship Dinner will feature a reception and extensive multi-course meal followed by a brief program and the presentation by Perez Baraquio.
Sandra L. Sevigney, first vice president and a retirement plan specialist at Plimoth Investment Advisors, is chairman of the event for a second year.
She recently explained, “I said ‘yes’ to serving as the chairperson again because I want to continue to help our Catholic school children in the Fall River Diocese achieve an academically rigorous, faith-based education, grounded in a commitment to academic excellence and strong Catholic identity.”
One measure of success of a Catholic education, she pointed out, can be shown through SAT scores, which in 2014 average 1606 for the diocese versus 1556 for the state and 1497 for the nation.
“It is important to note that by supporting the Fall Scholarship Dinner and FACE, we all reap the benefits of education, like breaking the cycle of poverty, preparing students to be better citizens, forming stronger Catholics, and of course helping to build a better world.”
Sevigney and committees working in four areas of the diocese are now reaching out to businesses and individuals to extend an invitation to sponsor a table or purchase a ticket for the Fall Scholarship Dinner in support of tuition assistance.
Leading the area committees are: in Attleboro, Paul M. Lenahan; in Fall River, Nicholas M. Christ; in New Bedford, Carl W. Taber; and in Taunton, Rick Clark.
Those interested in supporting the Fall Scholarship Dinner or obtaining more information on it or the FACE foundation, may contact Sevigney, any area committee chairman, or Jim Campbell at the diocesan Development Office at 508-675-1311.