By Erin Roll, Montclair Local
The COVID-19 outbreak threw a wrench into many aspects of school life, including getting scholarship money awarded to students.
But the Montclair Scholarship Fund was able to award $201,000 to 45 graduating high school seniors this year. The scholarship fund’s review committee received 116 applications from Montclair High School students. Of that number, 88 students were considered.
In years past, the scholarship fund saw an average of 60 to 80 students apply, said Leeta Jordan, a member of the review committee.
The astronomical costs of college are a factor in the increasing number of students applying, she said. This year’s number of applicants, 116, compares to 90 in 2018-2019 and 120 in 2017-2018.
“Some of these kids really overcome great obstacles just to graduate from high school,” Jordan said. Some may have to care for a younger sibling, or hold a job to support their family, she added.
Eight of the scholarship winners are the first of their family to go to college.
Twenty-two are going to New Jersey public colleges, including 10 to Rutgers and six to Montclair State University.
A virtual ceremony for the students was held on June 12.
“It was a lot more challenging and actually kind of sad for us, because this is the first year we weren’t able to interview the students,” said Jordan.
Melissa Bigelow, a secretary for the fund’s board of trustees, added: “In a usual year, [the committee gets] to meet the students, which is really meaningful to them, and, hopefully, really meaningful to the students.”
In a typical year, the committee would meet in person with students at the high school during the first week of May, so that the scholarships could be awarded close to graduation.
The committee had first discussed setting up Zoom interviews with the students, but there was concern over all of the participants having access to computers and the internet. The committee decided to review the hard-copy applications, and choose the qualifying students from that, said Bigelow.
Typically the students bring their financial aid paperwork with them to the interview. But this year the fund had to set up an online portal.
The fund was also unable to hold one of its major fundraisers. “We were actually really nervous because our funds were down,” Jordan said. But the fund’s organizers sent out a fundraising video, featuring past scholarship recipients, to potential donors. Between the video and other outreach to some of the major donors, the fund was able to raise close to what it would have brought in during a typical year.
Zakai Afolabi-Mack, Montclair State University
Isis Arevalo, Princeton University
Maya Aristumuno, New York University
Marco Arnez, Pennsylvania State University
Dwayne Brooks, Kean University
Elizabeth Carhart, Rutgers University
Maximo Cespedes, Temple University
Liyan Chung, New York University
Natalia Cruz, Pace University
Naa-yu Duncan, Pratt Institute
Jada Elliott, New Jersey City University
Michael Justin Ellis, Rutgers University
Noah Farjani, The New School
Mariamagdalena Faulkner, Rutgers University
Juliana Fawcett, Kean University
Erica Field, St. Lawrence University
Angel Gaines, Rutgers University
Judit Garcia, Montclair State University
Shayla George, Howard University
Adrian James, University of Tampa
Danielle Johnson, Montclair State University
Loren Johnson, Rutgers University
Simran Kahlon, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Rahzier Kelly, Louisiana State University
Ali Khawaja, Rutgers University
Ali Lin, Rensselaer Polytechnic University
Alizaya Londono, Rutgers University
Kyle Martin, Michigan State University
Janyia Mcgainey Rogers, Rutgers University
Nguenar Ndiaye, Rutgers University
Arden Phillips, Berklee College of Music
Greta Poglinco, Connecticut College
Christy Rolling, Montclair State University
Carlos Salem-Rosario, Eastern University
Zachary Sanders, Montclair State University
Lola Scarpone, Macalester College
Stella Schaefer-Surdez, University of Vermont
Davida Task, Rutgers University
Shane Taylor, North Carolina Central University
Trinity Thompson, Kean University
Aamnah Ullah, Montclair State University
Nicholas Urquijo, Pennsylvania State University
Brian White, St. Bonaventure University
Erick Wilson, Stockton University
Lucy Ziesing, Syracuse University