Long Island Lutheran was pleased to present the 2019 Alumni of the Year Awards at a special Chapel service in April. This annual award recognizes those who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievements, commitment to their churches and communities, and continued involvement at LuHi. This year’s honorees were Rishawd Watson (‘00), Cathy Vollono (‘81) and Amy Rath (‘81) The celebrated alumni were introduced to the student body and each spoke about their experience at LuHi and what this school has meant to them.
Rishawd Watson was born and raised in Brentwood, NY. He came to LuHi for high school where he played a multitude of sports including football, basketball, and track, and field. As a two time Lutheran Football All-American selection in 1998 and 1999, Watson led the Crusaders to win the conference championship in the Fairchester Athletic Association during his senior year.
After a successful high school career, Rishawd was recruited to play football at Division I (AA) Fairfield University (Fairfield, CT). During his three year campaign with the Stags (2000-02), in addition to making All-Conference teams (MAAC), and All American honorable mention accolades, Watson was able to permanently make his mark on the football program by becoming the All-Time Leading Rusher in Fairfield University history. After playing his senior season (2003) at Salisbury University, Watson received his undergraduate degree in Sociology with a minor in Education from Fairfield University (2004).
From 2004-07, Watson served as the Running Backs Coach at Division II Millersville University (Millersville, PA). In 2008, Watson pursued a unique opportunity and moved to the Netherlands in order to obtain his Masters’ Degree in International Sports Administration. During his time in the Netherlands, Watson played with the American football team, The Amsterdam Crusaders, and lead the Crusaders to win the 2009 Dutch National Championship in American Football.
The overarching principles of Faith, Service, and Excellence which were instilled in Watson during his time at LuHi was invaluable to his growth, and helped him shape the vision for The Rise and Shine Sports Academy, a nonprofit talent development organization designed to provide youth with the opportunity to pursue and realize their academic and athletic dreams.
In June of 2017, Rishawd Watson embarked on a remarkable year-long worldwide trek (visiting 47 countries) to conduct site visits and research various global education systems for future implementation. In addition to visiting schools across the globe, Watson raised over $10,000 for local communities by hosting multiple youth based 5K races to promote health, wellness, and social inclusion!
Rishawd currently resides in Chicago, IL where he is an administrator within Chicago Public Schools. He is engaged to be married on July 21, 2019, to his fiance Jen Jilek. Rishawd is a member of the New Life Covenant Church in Chicago. Rishawd loves to travel and play sports in his spare time.
Cathy Vollono is a proud graduate of the Class of 1981. She loved her four years here as a student both in the classroom and on the teams she played on; Field Hockey, Gymnastics, and Softball. The supportive, loving, Christian atmosphere at LuHi made her high school experience even better than she could have imagined. Cathy especially enjoyed her business courses at LuHi and decided to study accounting in college and earned her B.S. in Accounting from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
After college, she worked at Dale Carnegie & Associates for 13 years, a company dedicated to helping people improve themselves personally and professionally. While there, she worked as a Staff Accountant and the Payroll and Benefits Supervisor. She then returned “home” to LuHi when she joined the Development staff in 2002 and has been here ever since. Part of her job at LuHi is to help fundraise for the school in order to improve your LuHi experience and for those who will follow in your footsteps! She loves what she does and wholeheartedly supports the school’s mission of educating young people in body, mind, and spirit so that they can become all God intends them to be.
All three of the Vollono children are LuHi graduates and shared similar and exceptional experiences here – Danielle in 2013, Adriana in 2015, and Zach in 2017. Some of you probably know her husband, Coach Vollono, who coaches varsity volleyball with Mrs. Klemp. The Vollono family truly enjoys being part of the “LuHi Family”!
In her spare time, Mrs. Vollono enjoys baking, traveling, and fitness. She also enjoys volunteering and much of her efforts involve her church – Good Shepherd Lutheran in Plainview – where she is a life-long member. She has served on numerous committees, boards, and teams. She was a youth group leader for many years and has been a Sunday school teacher for nearly forty years now. Giving back is just what she likes to do.
Amy Rath said, “LuHi was absolutely foundational to me growing into the person God created me to be. LuHi was much more than a school. It was a family. It was a place to belong. It was a place to love and be loved, and it provided a tremendous opportunity to grow in Christ Jesus. I am grateful for the life-giving ministry of LuHi.” During her years a LuHi Amy not only played field hockey, basketball, softball, and was on the gymnastics team, she also played in the Jazz Band, Dixieland Band, Wind Ensemble, Pep Band, and sang in the choir and the Folk Group. She was a member of the National Honor Society, Key Club, CIA (Christians In Action) and was an officer in student government.
Amy’s passion is to help people of all ages heal from life’s difficult challenges and then discover and fulfill their unique, God-given life purpose. Amy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Licensed Minister, and a Board Certified Christian Life Coach. She has earned both Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Social Work, and is a Trained Crisis Responder.
Amy’s 35 years of experience include working with children, youth and adults as a clinical counselor. She currently serves as Children and Family Counselor at Hospice of Marion County in Ocala, Florida. In 2019, just a few weeks ago, Amy was the recipient of the Clinical Practice Award, presented by the Association of Death Education and Counseling for her work in the bereavement field.
Amy is also an inspirational speaker, having spoken at churches and conferences around the country as well as internationally. Additionally, Amy loves to help people maximize personal growth and success through life coaching. She is also an avid musician who still loves to play the saxophone, which she learned to play at LuHi! Amy travels both nationally and internationally playing at churches, Christian conferences, and special events. She also plays in a blues band!
Amy is a member of Meadowbrook Church in Ocala, Florida. She is the assistant choir director and has also led small groups for teens and adults there. When it comes to family, Amy gets much joy from her many nieces and nephews. She also absolutely loves the thousands of kids and teens she’s been blessed to work with over the years.
In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and give you a hope and a future.” God is definitely fulfilling this scripture in Amy’s life. And by His grace, Amy is able to help people live out this promise in their own lives by sharing God’s love, power, and presence through both word and music.