Adrianna D’Cafango was only a 9-month-old baby in her mother’s arms in the Nugget Mall corridor when she won a college scholarship.
Now, the Thunder Mountain High School senior, who will be graduating Sunday, will be able to put her award to good use. D’Cafango was the winner of the Juneau Empire’s $20,000 Baby 2000 Scholarship award winner in 2001. She was presented her scholarship in the form of a large novelty check at the TMHS awards ceremony by Empire Editor Emily Russo Miller Thursday morning.
“It feels pretty good to get the award,” D’Cafango said at TMHS Thursday. “I have always known about it. It has been in my scrapbook. I am excited.”
The Empire announced the scholarship contest Feb. 20, 2000. Parents applied for the scholarship by submitting a copy of the baby’s birth certificate. The baby must have been born to Juneau parents between Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2000 to be eligible. The Empire held a live drawing at Nugget Mall on Feb. 25, 2001. In the Empire story about the award, Sheryl Washburn, Bartlett Regional Hospital patient care administrator, estimated 400 babies were born during that year. Former Empire Publisher Don Smith pulled D’Cafango’s name out of approximately 200 entries that had been placed in a bassinet. D’Cafango was a 9-month-old baby at the time of the drawing. The scholarship was a joint effort between the Empire and its former parent company, Morris Communications. There were also monthly drawings of $100 leading up to the grand prize.
D’Cafango is planning on attending the University of Alaska Southeast to study art. The scholarship is given directly to the university. Payments of $5,000 per year will go to the institution until $20,000 has been dispersed. D’Cafango said she does not have an exact career in mind and wants to take advantage of any opportunity in the art-world she can.
“Right now I am doing ceramics and I really like drawing and painting,” D’Cafango said. “I want to explore every field I can with that.”
The award, D’Cafango said, actually loomed over her as she was growing up. However, now that she is graduating and off to college, she said that is no longer the case.
“I think it put a lot of pressure on me,” D’Cafango said. “But then I just decided to do something I love.”