Haddam Killingworth Valedictorian Earns National Scholarship

Emma Soneson takes first place in the ESA Youth Scholarship Program and will study at Yale this fall.


Haddam Killingworth High School senior Emma Soneson of Higganum has been named first place winner of the Electronic Security Association’s (ESA) Youth Scholarship Program. Soneson will receive a $7,500 scholarship for her outstanding essay and academic achievements at HKHS.

Emma will graduate as her class valedictorian with a 4.28 GPA and will be heading to Yale University this fall to begin her undergraduate studies.

Emma is the president of several clubs at HKHS including the National Honor Society, Future Leaders of Haddam-Killingworth and the Photo Club. In addition, she has volunteered at the University of Connecticut Health Center as a research assistant since June 2011.

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be between 15 and 20 years old, a graduating high school senior and have been accepted for admission to an accredited college or university. Each eligible student must have a father, mother or natural guardian who is an active duty, full-time police officer, firefighter or volunteer firefighter. As a part of the application, students are required to write an essay entitled, “What it means to me to have my parent or guardian involved in securing our community.”

Mark Soneson, Emma’s father, is a police officer at the Berlin Police Department. His dedication and passion for helping his community has influenced Emma to choose a career in medicine.

“The most important thing that having a policeman for a father has taught me is the value that comes with serving others,” said Emma. “[My father] is willing to put his life on the line to keep us all safe. I could not admire him more for this, and I hope to be even half as dedicated to my career as an anesthesiologist as he is to his.”

Soneson entered the Youth Scholarship Program through the ESA chartered chapter in Connecticut, the Connecticut Alarm & Systems Integrator Association (CASIA). She beat out dozens of applicants to win the first place $1,000 scholarship in Connecticut. From there, CASIA sent Emma’s application to ESA where she competed against the other national finalists. The national finalists were made up of the first place winner from each chartered chapter and one candidate selected by ESA from applicants living in a state without a chapter.

 “Emma is brilliant,” said Dana Klesh, president of CASIA. “She is a straight A student in advanced honors, while at the same time working as an intern at UCONN Health Center. Her grades, music accomplishments, community service and participation in school athletics are truly impressive.”

Since the ESA Youth Scholarship Program was created in 1996, the association and its affiliated Chartered Chapters have donated more than $330,000 in scholarship funds to children of police officers and firefighters.

“The men and women that serve this country each and every day as police officers or fire fighters are heroes and national treasures,” said ESA President Dom D’Ascoli. “The work they do in protecting our communities can never be appreciated enough. This scholarship is one of the ways we can thank our deserving public safety partners.”


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