Nakos Family Scholarship Fund by Hope Strengthens Benefits Students and Promotes Healthy Communities

Mar 13, 2024 | News & Events

The following story was published by the University of New Hampshire College of Health and Human Services.

Nakos Family Scholarship Fund by Hope Strengthens Benefits Students and Promotes Healthy Communities
by Pam Moore

Ever since she was in middle school, Delia Casamenti ‘24 knew she’d someday work in a field where she could give others the support her guidance counselor had offered her. “She made me feel understood and accepted, showing me that I could overcome my insecurities by believing in myself,” said Delia. With help from the Nakos Family Scholarship Fund by Hope Strengthens Foundation, Delia is one step closer to achieving her dream of becoming a social worker.

The scholarship, which is awarded to College of Health and Human Services juniors and seniors, is need-based with a preference for first generation college students, and was established to encourage students to work in healthcare. “We saw that people were leaving the field or just not going into health professions at all, particularly during COVID,” said Hope Strengthens Foundation co-founder and executive director Jacob Ferreira.

When Hope Strengthens Foundation donors the Nakos Family (Christine and Loukas ’83; daughters Jaclyn ‘15 & M.Ed. ‘16, Hayley, and Rachel ‘19) were looking for a way to lend a helping hand to his alma mater, teaming up with Hope Strengthens to create opportunities for CHHS students felt like the perfect fit. With two of his three daughters having graduated from UNH and as a first-generation college graduate himself, it was important to him that his gift benefit not just UNH students but the greater community as well. “The world needs more healthcare professionals,” said Loukas.

While there is a significant shortage of workers in the healthcare industry, financial barriers prevent many from getting into it in the first place. But the Nakos Family Scholarship Fund by Hope Strengthens Foundation seeks to break them down.

“In talking to the university and Loukas, it was clear that there were young people who were thinking of switching majors because of the expenses associated with completing their degrees,” said Jacob. With funds to offset the fees associated with board exams, clinical rotations, and other costs, scholarship awardees are able to pursue their dreams and ultimately make a positive impact on hundreds, if not thousands of patients and clients over the course of their careers.

“It was a difficult decision to attend a university that is hours away from my hometown, knowing I would have to pay out-of-state tuition,” said Delia, for whom the scholarship represents more than just financial support. “This scholarship not only helped my finances during this past year but has also given me the confidence to go forth in my profession and dreams to be a safe haven for children.”

Through the Nakos family’s generosity, the scholarship currently awards $2500 to four students each year, but with community support, there’s potential to provide additional scholarships. “It’s wide open for people to get involved,” said Jacob. To find out how you can get involved, visit