College News  |  Quick Read

Alumni Give Back

Karen Sweeny Headshot

by Elizabeth Brand  |  Winter 2022

Thanks to the generosity of Ramapo College alumni, new scholarships that benefit deserving students are established every year. Here is a list of recently established Alumni Scholarships:

Cynthia Cappell ’83

 While a student at Ramapo College, Cynthia Cappell ’83 found lifelong friendship, trust and support from other “returning women,” and a deep awareness of how each of their stories inspired each others’ success. Their shared struggles as women peaked her interest in women’s history and current issues, especially women’s rights and protections under the law. She was motivated to become a catalyst for positive changes in women’s lives, and a career in law became the path she chose to achieve this goal.

After graduating at the top of her class at Ramapo, she repeated this academic achievement at Rutgers Law School, including as Editor-in-Chief of the Women’s Rights Law Reporter. She continues to practice and work for the advancement of women’s rights at her own law firm in Hackensack, N.J. Her scholarship benefits single mothers who attend Ramapo.

Joyce Rice Headshot

Joyce Rice ’84 Scholarship

As a single mother while attending Ramapo, Joyce Rice ’84 understands the financial challenges that single mothers face while juggling the costs of raising a family. In recognizing these hurdles, Joyce and her spouse Don created this scholarship to provide assistance to single mothers who are valiantly furthering their education while simultaneously meeting their children’s financial needs.

Pushparanee Ganesan Scholarship

After moving to the United States from Sri Lanka, Pushparanee Ganesan attended Ramapo College in 1990 and completed an Accounting Certificate, which enabled her to secure a position at the Bank of New York in Suffern, N.Y. She recognized the importance of education and generously encouraged her daughters in their athletic and academic pursuits.

According to her daughter, Sangeetha, who created this scholarship in her mother’s name, “Pushpa was known for her smile and strength beyond measure. Besides being a talented chef and baker, she enjoyed investing in real estate, hosting lively dinner parties, and spending time with her family. The Pushparanee Ganesan Scholarship is a tribute to a loving woman who would have been delighted to give back to the Ramapo community that had such a positive impact on her life and career.”

Michael Simon Class of ’73 LGBTQ Scholarship

Michael Simon ’73 (first graduating class) was involved in many campus activities during his undergraduate years. He and two classmates built and operated the first campus radio station WRPR in 1972. Michael and a fellow student designed the first Ramapo College class ring using the Arch and the words of JFK “Peace through Understanding” as the base design. He was also a member of the housing committee, worked the switchboard in the evenings, and occasionally drove the shuttle bus to and from residence halls located on Route 17. Michael created this scholarship to help involved students who excel in their contribution to the LGBTQ community at Ramapo College.

Fishman, Abraham and Helene ’78 Social Work Scholarship

Helene Fishman ’78 was raised in Brussels and arrived in the United States via France in 1958 with her father, as her mother had passed away when she was only a child. Helene attended Ramapo College as a returning adult student, and graduated with a degree in sociology. She continued her education at Columbia University’s School of Social Work. “I feel Ramapo prepared me for graduate studies particularly well. My professors at Columbia were very familiar and impressed with the College and the quality of my work.”

After earning her MSW, Helene worked in New York City with the homeless and later established a private practice in Nanuet, N.Y. She also earned further certification in substance abuse counseling. The scholarship is for students who will attend graduate school.

Dr. Narges Sarrafan ’10 TAS Scholarship

Receiving a scholarship as an undergraduate was one of the motivators for Dr. Narges Sarrafan to create her own scholarship at Ramapo. Dr. Sarrafan earned her B.S. in Biology in 2010. She then attended Pacific College of Oriental Medicine where she earned her Doctorate of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.  “I wanted to give back to the College and to help other students in the School of Theoretical and Applied Science (TAS) achieve their dreams.”

Roger J. Muller Insurance Endowed Scholarship/Muller Insurance of Hoboken, est. 1906

Roger J. Muller Jr. graduated from Ramapo College with a degree in Environmental Studies in 1979.  “I hold a firm belief that meeting the cost of education may require assistance,” he said. His scholarship is for incoming students from Hoboken or Hudson County, N.J.

Don Mahoney ’73 Memorial Scholarship

Don Mahoney was part of the first graduating class of Ramapo College in 1973. An avid golfer, football and baseball fan, and cyclist, he enjoyed a 25-year career in advertising sales at Sports Illustrated. As an alumnus, he remained involved at Ramapo, where he served as a member of the Ramapo College Foundation Board of Governors Executive Board and chaired the Golf Committee for many years. In 1997, Don was honored as a Distinguished Citizen in recognition of his contributions to Ramapo and the community.

Don’s wife Barbara and two children chose to create a lasting tribute to his life and commitment to Ramapo College by creating this endowed scholarship in his name. “He often said he owed his amazing career to Ramapo and to his professors.”

Don Mahoney Headshot

Michael Ricciardi Memorial Scholarship

“Mike was tireless and steadfast in his support of student athletes,” says the remembrance page of the Ramapo College web site. “He was happiest when he was coaching, meeting informally with students, or simply sitting in the stands cheering. He is remembered as a dedicated and caring administrator, colleague, family man, and sports enthusiast.”

Michael J. Ricciardi graduated from Ramapo College in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. As an undergraduate Mike helped create the intramural sports program, and after graduating began working in the Roadrunner Athletics Department. He held positions as Coordinator of Athletic Equipment & Facilities and Women’s Basketball Coach under Athletic Directors Rick Myrlak and Gene Marshall, often saying that they taught him a great deal. Mike rose to the position of Athletic Director in 2007, a position he held until his death in 2010. His family created this memorial scholarship to benefit students in the Anisfield School of Business.

Karen Sweeny Headshot

Karen Sweeney ’87 Memorial Scholarship

When she died in 2020, Karen Sweeney’s colleagues at Barnes & Noble College created this scholarship in her name. Born in Plainfield, N.J., Karen attended South Plainfield High School, and then earned a degree in Communication Arts from Ramapo College. She served as Vice President of Operations for Barnes & Noble College where she was an exceptional executive and a compassionate and inspiring leader. Aspiring women leaders in ASB will benefit from Karen’s scholarship.

Jose F. Montes Memorial Scholarship

Francisco Montes ’11, an alumnus of the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF), graduated from Ramapo College with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Anthropology. “When my father Jose died in 2020, I wanted to find a way to honor the numerous healthcare workers who cared for him and others during the COVID pandemic.” The scholarship is for EOF students who are in nursing or other healthcare related fields.

Molchan Family Book Scholarship

“Much of my success at Ramapo is due to the Educational Opportunity Fund program,” says Stephen Molchan ’17, who earned a degree in Accounting from the Anisfield School of Business.  Stephen continued his education after Ramapo and obtained a Master of Science in Taxation from Florida Atlantic University in 2019.  EOF scholars in ASB will benefit from the Molchan Scholarship.