Kristen Strafer of Keyport used to spend many hours working at a photography studio in addition to taking classes at Brookdale. With the help of an academic scholarship, she won’t have to.
“Now, I can focus on my studies,” the second semester student said.
Strafer was one of more than 450 Brookdale scholarship students recognized March 13 at the Foundation and Alumni Scholarship Recognition Ceremony. During the ceremony, recipients were individually recognized and presented with certificates, while parents, board of trustee members, donors and volunteers looked on.
Like Strafer, many recipients said the scholarship money will not only help them afford college—it will help do better. With a little less financial pressure, students, many of whom hold down jobs while attending school full time, said they can pay more attention to school.
Mike Roibal, an economics student from Middletown, said he will still continue his job delivering fast food chicken—just not as much.
Richard Salerno of Brick, said he works 25 hours a week to help pay his tuition in the respiratory therapy program. This semester, he has an Area VII Physicians Review Organization Scholarship to help him out. Expecting to graduate in May, Salerno is receiving the award for the first time, along with classmates Peter Borowski of Newark and Alfredo Irizarry of Toms River.
“With a program this demanding, you don’t have time to work,” noted Irizarry.
Brookdale president Dr. Maureen Murphy thanked the volunteers and donors whose time and generosity make the scholarships possible. She honored the commitment of the Brookdale Community College Foundation Board of Trustees.
“These are the people who volunteer their time to give scholarships to all of you,” she told the students. “Your success matters to them.”
Receiving an academic scholarship provides more than a financial reward, students said.
Cory Pettway of Neptune, who sells sneakers when he’s not studying, is grateful for the assistance, but also proud of himself for the hard work that helped him receive it. He finished his first year with a 4.0.
“It feels pretty,” good, he said. “I felt I really accomplished something,” said Andrew Feldman, a criminal justice student from Manalapan. His mom agreed, adding, “The dollars help.”
To view pictures of the scholarship ceremony and the individual recipients, click here.