UMPS CARE Charities is proud to announce the newest additions to our All-Star College Scholarship Program roster – Caroline Mackey and Deanna Lescouflair.

When this program started, we selected one student each year who had been adopted later in life and rewarded this young person with a scholarship worth $10,000 per year for the course of their college journey. In 2022, Deloitte stepped up to the plate to help us support not one, but two, recipients per year. We are thrilled to announce that the accounting and advisory firm of Marcum LLP is also sponsoring this life-changing program.

This article features Deanna’s story. To inquire about sponsoring or donating to support students like Caroline and Deanna, please email Jennifer Skolochenko-Platt at Jenn@UmpsCare.com.

Deanna considers herself fortunate that she was adopted by a loving family after she and her sister were placed in the foster care system. She also knows the pitfalls of the foster care system and at just 18 years of age, she is already creating change in the legal system and hopes this is just the start of supporting others who were in similar situations to her own.

Back in 2019, when Deanna was 14, she and her younger sister (who was 6 at the time) were removed from their mother’s care. While Deanna wanted to stay with a foster care family who was taking care of her at the time (and eventually adopted her), her sister chose to return to her mother. That’s when problems occurred as Deanna wanted to maintain a relationship with her sister, but not with her mother.

It took years of court dates, proceedings and lobbying, but Deanna was able to help create resources to keep her connected with her sister. She is part of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families Youth Council and is also involved with the Sibling and Advocacy Subcommittee.

She recently returned from visit to Washington, D.C., where she spoke at length with Congressman Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ) about issues within the foster care system. Her ultimate goal is to pursue a graduate degree or go to law school to continue advocacy work.

Deanna is well on her way toward reaching her goals as she is heading to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, about a half an hour from her adoptive home, this fall. Thanks to UMPS CARE Charities, Deanna will receive $10,000 per year to support her college education at Rutgers. Each scholarship recipient also receives ongoing support and mentorship from the Major League Baseball umpires and their families.

Deanna was working at her summer job in a cancer research lab when she received a phone call informing her that she had been selected as one of two recipients of the UMPS CARE scholarship for 2023. The check is great, but our program is way more than financial assistance.

“I was so excited,” she said. “I was in shock. The money is great, and I’m going to be in a great position (financially) with this scholarship, but being part of this community is really cool. I’m excited about that part.”

Deanna did not grow up as much of a baseball fan, but that might change now that she is joining the UMPS CARE crew. Her adoptive father, however, is a huge New York Mets fan, and has traveled to see the team in Spring Training.

While her baseball knowledge might be limited, she knows the umpires care about her college education and giving her an opportunity to achieve her college degree.

According to several studies, just 50 percent of foster youth graduate high school by 18, and only about 2 to 9 percent earn a bachelor’s degree. Deanna hopes to be part of the rare success story, and she also wants to pay it forward and change those statistics for future foster youth.

In addition to her advocacy work, Deanna has been keeping busy with her summer jobs. She was selected a Rutgers Youth Enjoy Science participant and has been working in a research lab. On weekends, she can be found at her local Starbucks, whipping up fancy coffee drinks as a barista.

Her personal favorite drink is a customized creation – a blond oat milk espresso latte with brown sugar, cinnamon dolce syrup and cinnamon dolce sprinkles.

“I am the best barista hands down,” she said with a laugh.

In her little spare time, she often can be found with her nose in a book. She enjoys a variety of literature, particularly poetry, mystery and fantasy books, sprinkled in with the occasional memoir.

She is looking forward to exploring various clubs and internship opportunities while at Rutgers.

“Being a recipient (of the UMPS CARE scholarship) means an opportunity for me to obtain my bachelor’s degree without having to worry much about financing college and taking out loans. Being a recipient has lifted a lot of weight off my shoulders, which will allow me to focus on my studies.”

Special thanks to scholarship sponsors, Deloitte and Marcum LLP, in addition to our UMPS CARE donors who make this All-Star College Scholarship Program such a success.

To learn more about the All-Star College Scholarship Program, click HERE