The Brookdale Foundation hit a hole-in-one for dozens of deserving college students on Sept. 24 with the 36th annual Education Open Golf Tournament, held at the Eagle Oaks Golf and Country Club in Farmingdale.
More than 100 golfers, donors, sponsors and volunteers came together for a beautiful day on the links, raising more than $51,000 for the Foundation’s “Building Minds, Building Futures” scholarship fund.
“The students who receive these scholarships are hard-working, middle-class students who are determined to succeed and achieve their dream of earning a college degree,” said Education Open committee co-chair Bettina Munson, addressing the crowd during a post-tournament awards dinner.
“Your support today will help the Foundation award more than $400,000 to more than 500 of those students this year. You are helping them achieve their dreams and build a better life for themselves, their families and their communities. You are truly making a difference.”
Those sentiments were echoed by a team of current Foundation scholarship recipients, who volunteered as tournament staff and personally extended their thanks to golfers and sponsors throughout the day.
During the awards dinner, Brookdale Culinary Education Center (CEC) graduate Feeza Khan explained how a Foundation scholarship enabled her to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a professional chef.
“I was working and going to college at the same time, so finances were a little tight,” said Khan, an Ocean Township resident who emigrated to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago when she was eight years old. “The scholarship enabled me to work less and focus more on my studies. It also inspired me to continue my path of becoming a chef and to achieve my dream.
“Now I have my own business as a professional chef and a caterer,” she added. “I want you to know that I came to Brookdale with a dream, and I left with a plan. I want you to know that the scholarship that I received made a huge difference in my life, just like it does for thousands of other students like myself.”
Khan also volunteered her services in support of the Foundation, offering a gourmet, in-home dining experience as one of the evening’s live auctions.
Tournament participants were also able to bid for a wide range of custom gift baskets, designer goods and one-of-a-kind experiences in a series of silent and live auctions, and participate in a 50/50 raffle that netted more than $1,000 for the winner. Other prizes were awarded for longest drive, closest to the pin, and a “blind skins” game.
All proceeds will go toward the Foundation scholarship fund, which benefits working-class students who don’t qualify for financial aid. The fund has raised nearly $3 million and provided scholarships to more than 6,000 students over the past decade, according to Timothy Zeiss, executive director of the Brookdale Foundation and Alumni Affairs.
Learn more about Foundation scholarships, events and sponsorship opportunities here.
Check out more photos of the 2015 Education Open here.
(Feature photos by Mark DeYoung, college relations intern)