The Old Bridge Local 127 High School Scholarship Fund has been around for more than 10 years, but now it has a new name.
In honor of member Chris Cronin, who suddenly passed away in December 2020, the fund has been renamed the Chris Cronin Memorial Scholarship Fund.
“Chris is actually a product of Old Bridge High School,” shared Vinny Galgano, the Local’s State Delegate. “So it was a great way to honor the memory of Chris and carry on his legacy.”
Members of the Local were brainstorming ways to honor the fallen officer. They discussed placing a plaque outside their police headquarters but weren’t set on the idea.
Then, at a PBA meeting, the members were talking about the scholarship fund for high school students. Mike Cronin, Chris’ brother, approached Galgano with the perfect idea.
“Mike said he’d like to donate to the scholarship on Chris’ behalf,” Galgano explained. “Then he asked if we could make a memorial scholarship for his brother. Everything fell into place, and the Chris Cronin Memorial Scholarship Fund was made.”
The $5,000-total scholarship for five selected Old Bridge High School students is for those who are interested in criminal justice, social sciences or the military. The committee that reviews the applications also pays special attention to students with families that are struggling financially.
Students are asked to answer several questions on the application, including what career they want to pursue, why they should be awarded the scholarship and whether they have any financial circumstances.
“We’re not looking for the smartest kids,” Galgano noted. “People always associate scholarships with being smart. But we are looking for good students who are dealing with hard times and can use some of the money for school.”
The Local usually receives 15 to 20 applications and narrows them down to five winners. For the first Chris Cronin Memorial Scholarship Fund, Mike will be reviewing the first round of applications.
“We want to let Mike handle the applications for at least the first year,” Galgano remarked. “And hopefully this scholarship continues on for a long time, even after I retire.”
The Local presented Old Bridge High School with a $5,000 check on March 18 to be distributed once the scholarship winners are chosen. Then, on a Scholarship Night to be held over Zoom, the recipients will be called one by one to be honored with a $1,000 check.
“The high school was so happy when we gave them the check,” Galgano recalled. “Due to COVID, a lot of businesses don’t have that extra cash to fund scholarships. So the school didn’t have any scholarship money, and we helped them out a lot.”
Galgano is elated that the Local is able to give back to the community while honoring its brother, who grew up in the town of Old Bridge.
“Chris was one of the funniest guys, who was always able to make me laugh,” Galgano recollected. “And at the very least, this is a way we can carry on his memory.”