Feinstein scholarship links URI student with late teacher

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — March 4, 1999 — The late Gail Pagano DiPrete spent much of her 30 years in service to others. She taught science at Bain Middle School in Cranston using community projects to motivate her students. Outside the classroom, she volunteered her time and resources to help feed and clothe the hungry, raise money in the fight against cancer and heart disease, and financially sponsored a child in Sierra Leone. She also found time to sing in her church choir. URI student Rebecca Bueno, 29, never met DiPrete but she shares the same zest for improving others’ lives. An Alan Shawn Feinstein scholarship named in honor of DiPrete who died of cancer in 1997, was recently awarded to help Bueno achieve her goals. Bueno who lives in Hope Valley with her husband and two daughters, attends classes at the URI Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Continuing Education in Providence. Her dream is to one day work with bilingual or special education students. To get her education, Bueno must juggle her family’s needs with her studies and her full-time job at Medical Diagnotics in Warwick. The Feinstein scholarship requires a community service component, which Bueno has embraced. She volunteers her help with billing at the Wood River Health Services, Inc. Bueno also teaches religious education at St. Joseph’s Parish in Hope Valley to children 8 to 12 who have been away from religion and need to brush up. She knows something about brushing up. Born in New York and moving to Rhode Island as a young child, Bueno grew up fluent in Spanish and English. When her grandmother became ill in Puerto Rico, Bueno and her family went there to care for her. Returning to Rhode Island five years later, Bueno was placed in an English-as-a-Second-Language class to brush up on her English. Bueno began tutoring her ESL classmates. “I knew I could help,” she says. From that experience, Bueno has frequently thought about getting a college degree and working with bilingual students. “I’ve always felt I could work well with minorities. I can understand their needs.” Bueno also thinks about possibly working with the mentally disadvantaged population some day. “I grew up with a severely mentally incapacitated cousin. I didn’t find him funny, weird or different. He is normal to me.” The URI student has a supportive family. Her daughter Amanda is 9 and Adrianna is 6. Her husband, Sergio Bueno, pitches in, even giving up fishing on Saturdays so she can attend class. Bueno hopes to complete her college degree in five years. First she needs to get finances straightened out. The Feinstein scholarship she received went a long way to help meet expenses this semester. She’s grateful to the Cranston philanthropist and to the woman the scholarship honors. “I’ve been told about all she did. She was an exceptional lady,” Bueno says. For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 874-2116