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Andrew Lesser applied to Ramapo College as an early decision candidate and began taking classes as a freshman in the fall of 1999. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Psychology in 2003. At Ramapo, Andrew fostered his interest in the outdoors, hiking at the Ramapo Reservation and participating in Professor Howard Horowitz’ study abroad trips to the American West and the American Southwest.

A photography course stirred his passion for the art and its impact. He became an excellent nature photographer, frequently giving framed prints of his photos as gifts to family and friends. He was also a member of the Ramapo Track and Field team, competing in the hammer throw.

In the summer between his junior and senior years, Andrew interned at a water conservation company, and continued to work for the company for one year after graduation.  He then continued his commitment to the environment, working as a compliance and enforcement officer for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. There could not have been a better fit. He loved the work and was an extremely dedicated employee.

Andrew was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in early 2009, four days before his 28th birthday. He died 11 months later. To commemorate Andrew’s life and his love of the outdoors, family and friends hike together each year at Mohonk Preserve in New York. In 2012, Andrew’s family created this endowed scholarship to provide a permanent reminder of his commitment to the environment among future generations of Ramapo College students.

  • Environmental Science, Environmental Studies or Visual Arts/Photography majors
  • Good academic standing
  • Commitment to the environment
  • Essay should detail how student demonstrates commitment to the environment

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2020 Recipient

Xaymaraliz Dumeng

Xaymaraliz Dumeng of Belleville, N.J. is an Environmental Studies major. She has a 3.9 GPA and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the Honors Program.

All of her activities both on and off-campus illustrate her dedication to the environment. At Ramapo, Xaymaraliz has been active in 1STEP where she does trash clean-ups and raises environmental awareness. She has volunteered at MEVO, a local sustainable farm, and is a Sales Ambassador at Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics.  She recently completed an internship at the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute, doing research in composting. “I plan to be an environmental advocate to help businesses and communities become more sustainable.

2019 Recipient

Melanie Schlosser

Melanie Schlosser of Park Ridge, N.J. double majors in Visual Arts with a concentration in Law & Society and Visual Arts with a concentration in Drawing and Painting. She has a 3.95 GPA, placing her on the Dean’s List every semester of attendance.

On campus, she is a member of the Visual Artists Society and has served on executive boards for various clubs and organizations. Outside of school she has held a range of internships, including in fields of design, law, and sustainability.

Recently, Melanie has attended a human rights conference in South Dakota to present her Law & Society thesis paper titled “Our Roles in Environmental Responsibility.” She is currently working on a thesis project for Drawing and Painting featuring a similar theme of environmental issues, and also works as a legal assistant in an environmental law office. After graduating, Melanie plans to attend law school.

2018 Recipient

Megan Maddalena

Megan Maddalena of Matawan, N.J. is an Environmental Science major in the Teacher Education program. She has a 3.8 GPA and is a member of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society.

On campus, Megan has been involved in Relay for Life, helping run the annual event during her four years at Ramapo. “I’m proud to say that last year the event raised over $50,000 for the American Cancer Society and had over 700 participants.” She is also part of Future Teachers, and works with Dr. Wiener on a Raptor Research Project in the Ramapo Mountains.

Megan has also been involved in off-campus activities, including clean-ups at the Ramapo Reservation, and volunteering at The Forum School to work with students with special needs. She also works as a hostess at The Shannon Rose in Ramsey. “I hope to work at a middle school and get an additional teaching certification in Chemistry.”   

2017 Recipient

Pamela Gilligan

Pamela Gilligan grew up in Branchburg, NJ and currently resides in Flemington, NJ.  She is majoring in Environmental Studies with a 3.8 GPA, and is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society on campus. She spent the spring 2016 semester abroad in south India studying social movements and sustainability initiatives.

At Ramapo, she is the president for 1STEP environmental club and Co-President of the Yoga Club, where she previously served as secretary.  She is also a member of the Sustainable Living Facilities where she volunteers in the college gardens, harvesting and planting organic vegetables. As the co-founder of the new RCNJ water campaign “Rethink Water,” she led efforts to raise awareness about available hydration stations throughout campus and helped educate the college community about the concerns involving plastic water bottles. During the school year she works in the Academic Affairs (Provost) Office as a clerical assistant.

Off campus she is a frequent volunteer for the Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization (MEVO) where she held positions as the Farm Crew Leader and Intern. She has also interned at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, where she led educational programs and tours about the importance of native species. In summer 2016, she interned at Grow It Green Morristown where she worked on an organic farm and taught children about where their food comes from.

“I am very proud of the water campaign I created for Ramapo and I hope to develop it further this coming school year. Once I graduate I hope to be able to continue educating people about the importance of having a connection to the environment, whether that be through food, stewardship, or clean energy,” said Pamela.



2016 Recipient

Sean Farrell

Sean Farrell of South River, NJ is an Environmental Science major with minors in Biology and Environmental Studies. He has a 3.3 GPA.

Sean works as a Program Coordinator for the Civic & Community Engagement Center, is a Peer Facilitator under the First-Year Seminar program, and is a member of the College’s Sustainable Living Facilities. In addition, Farrell attended an Alternative Spring Break trip to Rutland, MA (2014), focusing on hunger and homelessness, and was the student trip leader for the Alternative Spring Break trip to Asheville, NC (2015).

Sean is also involved with the South River Fire Department.

2015 Recipient

Jorge Gomez Wei

Jorge Ivan Gomez Wei of Fair Lawn, N.J. is an environmental studies major. He has a grade point average of 3.5. Jorge Ivan graduated from Bergen Community College with honors as well as a member of Phi Theta Kappa and Chi Alpha Epsilon.

At Ramapo, Jorge Ivan has been active in several organizations and activities, including trying to start an NAACP on campus as well as part of the Black Student Union.

Jorge Ivan has also been involved in off campus activities and organizations, including being the State President for the Youth and College Division of the NAACP, co-founder and president of KoKoKidz youth peer leadership group.

2014 Recipient

Brianne Bishop

Brianne Bishop of Branchburg, N.J. is an environmental studies major and visual arts minor. She has a 3.78 grade point average. Brianne is a member of the Golden Key Honor Society and Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society.

At Ramapo, Brianne has been active in several organizations and activities, including 1STEP, Yoga Club and Sustainable Living Facilities. She is a peer facilitator and a Resident Assistant on campus.

Brianne also has been involved in off –campus activities and organizations, including volunteering with the NY/NJ Trail Conference.

2013 Recipient

Rachel Frank

Rachel Frank is a senior majoring in Environmental Studies with a minor in Psychology. She has earned a 3.86 grade point average. “I believe college graduates will find revitalization in their lives and a meaningful perspective on the world by forging new career paths in environmental sustainability,” she says. “Our challenges will be to reevaluate myths about what happiness means and to reverse the suffering from past decades of industrialized wastefulness.” Rachel is a member of the student E-Board, theYoga Club and the Students for Environmental Progress Club. She traveled to South India last spring on a study abroad program. On campus Rachel is a founding resident of the Environmental Living Facility, volunteers for the Ramapo College Organic Garden, and chaired a campaign to eliminate plastic water bottles. She volunteers at Cropsey Community Farm and for, a grassroots environmental organization. Rachel is from Oakland, NJ.

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