“If something was wrong, he would help,” says childhood friend Natalie Kauffman. “If my bike chain fell off, he helped put it back on. He would be the one to come to your defense if someone was saying bad things about you. He was always on your side.”
“Ryan’s heart was always focused on two things,” adds his brother, Devin Carosi, “his family and his craft.”
Ryan grew up on a particularly close-knit street in Johnstown’s West End, where neighbors became extended family. Early on, he loved to build things. From model cars in his bedroom to clubhouses in the woods, Ryan was in training for what would eventually be a career in carpentry. It was a career he worked hard to achieve. It was a career he loved.
“Ryan’s heart was always in his work,” says Devin. “Even though he is no longer with us today, we are lucky enough to see pieces of Ryan’s heart in all of the work he left behind for us.”
His sudden death at 33-years-old was a blow to all the people who knew Ryan. While authorities sort through the senseless stabbing that took his life, Ryan’s friends and family want his story to inspire others.
Ten of them came together, including Devin, Natalie, and friend Mike Kozak, to create the Ryan Carosi Memorial Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. The fund will annually support a Greater Johnstown High School senior who is hardworking and kind and is planning to pursue training at a trade or vocational school, like Ryan did.
“Not someone who’s a 4.0 perfect student,” explains Mike, who teaches at Greater Johnstown Elementary School. “This is for someone right in the middle, who may not always get the benefit of scholarships, but someone who’s a hard worker, has good values, helps out in the school, involved in clubs and activities. Not a perfect student, just someone who is involved and will benefit.”
It’s for someone like Ryan. It’s also filling a gap in educational support that deserves more attention, especially in our region, where craft professions can provide a good life for those who choose one.
“We’re a blue-collar town, so there should be more programs like this available,” adds Natalie. “We should take pride in that. Not everyone has to grow up to be doctors and lawyers. We should be positive toward trade schools. It’s a worthwhile cause.”
Ryan had happily settled down in Pittsburgh, returning often to Johnstown. He talked fondly about being a student at Greater Johnstown High School, and later at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. His path was paved in perseverance and hard work, but it also gave him great satisfaction. It’s a path this scholarship encourages others to take.
“In five, ten years, if we can have five to ten kids get set on the right foot and the right path to get the assistance they need, that’s our vision,” says Natalie. “Hopefully they’ll be inspired by Ryan’s story. He had to work to get where he was. If we can inspire some kids to persevere, Ryan was all about hard work, and it got him to a good place.”
A good place is great. Sometimes it just takes a little help to get there.