Raymond Zajac, a graduate education student at SUNY Brockport, is the first recipient of the Michael Tenebruso SUNY Brockport Memorial Scholarship.

The scholarship is named in memory of Tenebruso, a Batavia native and long-time educator, who died in 2018 following a battle with colon cancer.

Zajac aspires to be a social studies teacher.

The scholarship was presented Sept. 5 during the Michael Tenebruso Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament at Batavia Country Club.

Zajac, a native of the Finger Lakes region, attended South Seneca High School in Ovid, Seneca County. He originally majored in business economics and financial management at SUNY Cortland for his undergraduate degree.

But a period of military service led to a change of heart about his career plans and public service became his calling.

Zajac, who has achieved a 4.0 grade-point average, is a substitute teacher for the Manchester-Shortsville School District in Ontario County. He is also a short-term graduate assistant for Professor Meredith Lewis, working on website coding, syllabus alignment and helping teacher candidates with certification assessment items.

Zajac enjoys playing golf, basketball and baseball, and is a player in the National Adult Baseball Association’s Rochester Baseball League.

This was the second year of the tournament, which raises money for the Michael Tenebruso Memorial Scholarship Fund. Golfers, friends and family celebrated with a steak dinner, prizes and awards at Batavia Country Club.

The Tenebruso Scholarship is awarded annually to a SUNY Brockport student majoring in education who exemplifies Tenebruso’s positive spirit, passion for education and desire to affect others as they embark on a career in education.

This year’s tournament featured 25 foursomes hitting the links in honor of Tenebruso, a local principal, teacher and coach who died of colon cancer in 2018 at age 50.

Organizers of the tournament said Tenebruso positively impacted thousands of children, young adults and community members in his many roles. He was also known for an unwavering upbeat and positive attitude.

Tenebruso’s career as an educator started in Elba, where the teacher known as “Mr. T” was once recognized as the district’s “Teacher of the Year.” His career continued as an elementary school administrator that saw him serve as an assistant principal at Attica Central School, and principal at Sheldon Elementary, Hillery Park Elementary School in Buffalo and Canal View Elementary School in Chili, Monroe County. Outside the classroom he was a golf, wrestling and football coach.

Tenebruso, who was living in North Chili at the time of his death, graduated from Batavia High School in 1986 and later earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education and educational administration at SUNY Brockport.

During his six-year fight with cancer, Tenebruso maintained his passion for bodybuilding, continued to visit former students and give back to the community as a participant and keynote speaker for local fundraising events such as the Breast Cancer Association’s Pink Hatter’s Society. Through those actions he inspired others to “Fight like Mike.”

The inaugural golf tournament in 2019 raised more than $9,000 for the scholarship fund.

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