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Dugan Community Scholars

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The goal of the Dugan Community Scholars program is to recognize Ramapo students who are dedicated to positive social change in urban communities. The award was created by Marion Dugan, an alumna of Ramapo College who graduated in 1980 with a degree in Metropolitan Studies.

Mrs. Dugan has been active in numerous community organizations in Bergen County. She was a member of the Mahwah Board of Education for 13 years, served as president for two years and has been an active member of Literacy Volunteers of New Jersey. She served on that organization’s Board for two years and has been active with the DARE program and Safe Homes of Orange County, which serves families who are victims of domestic violence. Mrs. Dugan also served on the Ramapo College Foundation Board of Governors and chaired its Allocations Committee.

She and her husband, Mr. John Dugan, have provided significant support to the College, most recently to create the Physics Wing in the School of Theoretical and Applied Science.

  • Students who are dedicated to positive social change in urban communities
  • Chosen by convener of Social Work major based on recommendations of faculty

This scholarship is not awarded through the application process.

2022 Recipients

Michelle Rose

“My goal in the future is to open a shelter for homeless pregnant women,” says Michelle Rose of Newton, N.J. Michelle is a Social Work major with a 3.0 GPA.

Amanda Littlehale

Amanda Littlehale of Hillsdale, N.J. is a Social Work major in the Advanced Standing MSW Program. After graduating with her MSW in Spring 2022, she hopes to become a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor.

Amanda is part of the 2021-2022 Ramapo Student Advisory Board, where she serves as an advocate for other social work students by discussing issues and areas of growth within the program. 

Off campus, she has worked with Transition Professionals as an advocate for clients in the reentry process following their release from jail. She also performed research for grant writing and maintained the organization’s web and social media platforms.  

Amanda also has an interest in mental health and hopes to involve herself in issues regarding voter’s rights in the future. “I am very passionate about policy reform,” she says.

She has a 3.9 GPA and has made the Dean’s List every semester. She is a member of Tau Sigma National Honors Society and the Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Society.

Courtney Ober

“I am honored to be recognized for my dedication to implementing positive change in urban communities,” said Courtney Ober of Wanaque, N.J.

Courtney is a Social Work major with a Psychology minor. She currently interns at the Head Start program of Paterson, N.J. and is passionate about helping families and children.

Her long-term goal is to obtain her PhD and become a professor and psychotherapist. “I am dedicated to researching psychopathology and mindfulness, as well as the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions on stress.” 

At Ramapo, Courtney holds a leadership position within Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority and works as a tutor at the Center for Reading and Writing.

Courtney has a 3.9 GPA and has made the Dean’s list every semester. She is a member of Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and Omicron Delta Kappa National Honor Society.

2021 Recipients

Maria Vargas

“I am so proud of my accomplishments working with individuals from all walks of life,” says Maria Vargas. Maria is a Social Work major from Park Ridge, N.J. She has a 3.9 GPA and is on the Dean’s List. 

Maria volunteers for the STEM Alliance program, mentoring students (K-8) through online learning. She also obtained a position as a direct support professional for Anchor Behavioral Solutions, assisting individuals with intellectual disabilities to become independent and interact with their community. Recently, she started her internship with a grassroots organization, Ruby’s Vision, transitioning mothers and children from or at the risk of homelessness.

Post-graduation, she plans to begin her Masters of Social Work at Ramapo.

Nathalee Martinez

Nathalee Martinez of Union City, N.J. is a Social Work major. She has a 3.9 GPA and has made the Dean’s List several times. 

Nathalee volunteers for organizations under the Civic and Community Engagement Center. She also tutored and provided note-taking services for her peers under the Office of Specialized Services. 

Off campus, she works with House on the Hill, MEVO, and previously operated money transactions and sales at The Children’s Place. 

2020 Recipient

Samantha Talmo

Samantha Talmo of Dumont, N.J. is a senior Social Work Major. She has a 3.57 GPA and is on the Dean’s List. 

At Ramapo, Samantha has been active in several organizations and activities, including the Social Work club where she attends bi-weekly meetings. She is also the Vice President of Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society and attends and plans bi-weekly meetings.

Post-graduation, Samantha will begin her Social Work master’s degree program at Ramapo College. 

“I am excited to start my career in the social work field. I have always admired those in my life who took the time to help me, and I cannot wait to follow in their footsteps. I am eager to begin helping children through any difficulties they might face.”

2019 Recipients

Jenny Cespedes

Jenny Cespedes of Clifton, N.J. is a Social Science major with a concentration in Justice and a 4.0 GPA.

“Completing this degree will be one of my greatest accomplishments,” says the hardworking, single mother-of-three, who is back at school to complete her Bachelor’s Degree.

All while managing her family, Jenny goes to school at night, attends many student workshops on campus, and is involved at her parish, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, in Passaic, N.J.

She plans to stay at Ramapo to obtain her Masters of Social Work.

“I am very passionate about helping others and being a resource guide to those that may not be well informed.”


Rachel Coakley

Rachel Coakley of New Milford, N.J. is a senior Social Work major with a 3.97 GPA. Rachel is on the Dean’s List, is a New Jersey Stars scholar, and is a member of five college honor societies including Phi Theta Kappa, Psi Beta, Tau Sigma, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the Golden Key International Honour Society. She graduated from Bergen Community College with an honors diploma and transferred to Ramapo to complete her Undergraduate degree in 2017.

Rachel is an active member of the Hillel Club, where she attends weekly club meetings and assists with setting up club meeting activities. She is also involved with the non-profit organization ArtWorks, which provides access to the arts for children in hospitals who face chronic and life-limiting illnesses.

Post-graduation, she plans to begin working toward her master’s degree in Social Work at Ramapo College. “I am really passionate about helping others, and I want to work with and help both children and adults facing adversity in their lives.”

Morgan Aronoff

Morgan Aronoff of River Edge, N.J. is a Social Work major. She has a 3.9 GPA and is on the Dean’s List.

Morgan began volunteering at Pony Power Therapies in Mahwah her sophomore year, and this past summer began working there part-time. Pony Power Therapies gives special needs and at-risk children and adults a unique opportunity to ride, care for and interact with horses. As a therapeutic riding instructor-in-training, Morgan works with clients of various ages and abilities by teaching riding skills and equine care skills. After graduation, she plans on attending a master’s program for social work and pursuing a career in the equine therapy field.

Eileen McCafferty

“My late father Thomas instilled in me an undying love for the environment, so I spend a considerable amount of time outdoors or working on environmental issues,” says Eileen McCafferty of Pearl River, N.Y. Eileen is an Environmental Studies Major and has a GPA of 3.2. At Ramapo, she is the SSHS school senator within the Student Government Association, President of 1STEP, and an active member of the Sustainability Committee.

During the Spring semester of 2018, Eileen raised over $1,300 for 1STEPs’ Relay for Life team and has helped host numerous events bringing attention to sustainability and environmental issues.

She is involved with Rockland Interfaith Breakfast Program on Thursday mornings at Spring Valley Church. She also has over a decade’s worth of customer service experience and holds a job at Ramsey Outdoor in Mahwah. Eileen is currently is an intern at The New Jersey Highlands Coalition in Boonton, N.J. where she is learning about non-profit advocacy work within the forest and landscapes of the New Jersey Highlands.

Once she graduates, Eileen plans to spend the summer backpacking through the Catskills, teaching archery at a local day camp, and preparing to earn her Masters in Wildlife Management.

2018 Recipients

Yasmin Angon

“I’m proud to be a first generation Mexican-American college student,” says Social Work major Yasmin Angon of Paterson, N.J. Yasmin has a 3.85 GPA and has earned the Dean’s List status each semester of her college career.

At Ramapo, Yasmin has been active in two honor societies, Chi Alpha Epsilon and Alpha Lambda Delta. She has had internships at Transition Professionals and Care Plus NJ. She also works as a part-time bank teller. Upon graduation, Yasmin plans to pursue her master’s degree in Social Work at Rutgers University. “I hope to become a program director of a social welfare agency and help those in need.”

Amanda Khoudary

Amanda Khoudary of East Brunswick, N.J. is a Psychology major with minors in Neuroscience and Substance Abuse. She has a 3.86 GPA.

Amanda has become involved in several organizations where she can make a positive impact on people’s lives. Her career in helping others began as a high school student when she became involved in a local recreation program for children and adults with special needs. While at Ramapo, she pursued a position as a direct support professional for the National Institute of People with Disabilities. In that role, she works directly with people with physical and intellectual disabilities with the aim of assisting them with maximizing their independence and achieving their goals. In addition, she recently began an internship with West Bergen Mental Health Care where she aids in group therapy for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

After graduation, she plans to enter a Ph.D. program where she can begin her work as a clinical psychologist. By doing so, she hopes to develop an expertise in clinical practice and research.  “I am eager to take on the role as a practitioner and successfully apply the treatments I have learned to help people make positive transformations in their mental health and quality of life.”

Jeanne V. Marvel

Jeanne V. Marvel of Denville, N.J. is a Social Work major. She completed her classes for a Certification in Alcohol and Drug Counseling (CADC) and is working on her required internship hours to complete her certification. Jeanne transferred to Ramapo last fall after graduating cum laude from County College of Morris with an associate’s degree in Social Welfare. She earned a 3.3 GPA in her first semester at Ramapo.

Jeanne is a single mother of a four-year-old daughter. They both enjoy cheering on the Ramapo Roadrunner field hockey and ice hockey teams. Jeanne also participates in both commuter student and transfer student activities. She has also been involved in off-campus activities including Morris County Drug Court and the Indian Lake Women’s Club. She enjoys helping people and volunteering within her community.

Jeanne is working toward earning a master’s degree in Social Work at Ramapo College. After graduation, she plans to become a Social Worker at a high school. ”My ultimate goal is to open a private practice while devoting time to public social work in an effort to overturn some of the social maladies affecting our society.”

Steven Santangelo

Steven Santangelo of Wyckoff, N.J. is a Social Work major with a concentration in Substance Use Disorders. He has 3.6 GPA.

Steven works at Solid Foundation Youth Outreach, where he is chief operating officer as well as a youth mentor, and Bergen Regional Medical Center, where he is a counselor intern for addiction, working with both adults and adolescents.

“Throughout my life, I have faced many trials, the most poignant of which was a battle with addiction. It was through my recovery that I decided to make a shift from what was proving to be a promising career as a chef to dedicating my life to helping others in their battles with addiction.”

He is working toward a master’s degree in Social Work and certification as an LCADC (Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor). “Eventually, I’d like to open my own practice treating those who suffer from substance abuse disorders.”

2017 Recipients

Laura Baron

“Education, I think, is the most reliable driving force for positive social change,” says Laura Baron of Paramus, NJ.  Laura is a Psychology Major, and plans to pursue a PhD in Neuropsychology after graduation. She hopes to conduct research on the brain and work with developmentally disabled children.

On campus, Laura has tutored for Upward Bound, is on the executive board for the CPA Residence Hall Association and has volunteered at sustainability-related campus locations.

She has had an off-campus internship at Brain Balance Achievement Centers, and taught swim classes at Goldfish Swim School.

Laura has a 3.51 GPA, and made Dean’s list for both the spring and fall semesters of 2016.

Tyler Morella

Tyler Morella of Ringwood, NJ is a Psychology major with a minor in Substance Use Disorders. He has a 3.3 GPA.

Tyler has been an intern at the Summer House, a residential home for clients with psychological disorders. After finishing his internship, he plans to continue working at Summer House.

“I’m very proud that I’ve been able to maintain a GPA of over 3.0 while holding 2 full-time jobs, a career in the USMC Reserves, and an internship,” says Tyler. Tyler never thought he would turn out to be a good college student. After much hard work, finding enjoyment in his studies, and creating positive connections with his professors, he has risen above the odds and transformed into an above-average college student.

He plans to apply for PhD programs at John Jay, Rutgers, and the University of New York and hopes to continue his studies in Psychology. His career aspirations include working in law enforcement and one day teaching at the college level.

Tiffany Moy-Cheung

“I am proud of my accomplishments through my volunteer work where I was able to work one on one with a child diagnosed with Selective Mutism. At the conclusion of our weekly intensive, after many hours of social skills training with me, he was successful at communicating verbally in a public setting!” said Tiffany Moy-Cheung.  The Psychology major is from Old Bridge, NJ and has a 3.836 GPA.

In addition to her coursework, Tiffany is the captain of the Ramapo College Dance Team,  an experience she says has shown her the value of teamwork, perseverance and the “fight for never losing your passion.” She is also the lab manager for the Social Psychology Lab, and Honors Special Events Committee member.

She has interned at West Bergen Mental Health Center – Asperger’s Department and volunteered at the Child Mind Institute and Pony Power Therapies.

“Ramapo has provided me with the opportunity to learn inside and outside of the classroom. The fieldwork, co-op, and independent study opportunities have allowed me to gain experience and help me find direction in what path I would like to take to reach my career goals,” added Tiffany.  She plans to complete an Applied Behavior Analysis (MA) graduate program and aspires to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).

Alidia Wiltshire

Alidia Wiltshire of Newark, NJ is a Literature Major and a Psychology Minor.

At Ramapo, Alidia has participated in the Disney Club. She also volunteers at Apostles House Food Pantry in her hometown.

2016 Recipients

Amanda Goritski

Amanda Goritski of Newton, NJ is a Social Work major with a minor in Psychology.

She has a 3.9 GPA. She is an active member of Phi Alpha Honor Society and a Golden Key member.

Amanda has also been involved in community education with Ginnie’s House Child Advocacy Center, a non-profit center that assists victims of child abuse. She also volunteers for her children’s sports teams.

“As a social worker I hope to change the lives of many children and help guide them away from the mistakes I made. I hope to run a group home for lost, unwanted and orphaned children. I want the group home to be their home until they get their lives together. I want to change the ways of aging out of the foster care system because it is truly awful and sad what some of the children go through after being left and neglected by their own families. I have so many hopes and goals for my future that I never had before I was accepted at Ramapo. I may not be able to save the world but I know I am going to try.”

Heather Dunn

Heather Dunn of Sussex, NJ is a Social Work major with a minor in Substance Abuse.

She has a 4.0 grade point average. Heather was inducted into Psi Beta Honor Society, Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, and Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society. She was also a candidate for induction into the Golden Key International Honor Society.

Heather is active in the Social Work Club on campus, where she is working to set up a poverty/welfare simulation to teach others who do not understand the cycle of poverty and its intergenerational hold. Off campus she is a Senior Residential Program Instructor at Willowglen Academy.  She also volunteers for the Wallkill Valley Rotary and Sussex County Board of Health.

“A lot of people fear what they do not understand and it is because of that misguided fear, that people with disabilities are shunned, abused, and neglected. Shedding light on the issues faced by marginalized people is important because it is something that is not going to go away.”

Matthew Gooney

Matthew Gooney of Linden NJ is a Social Work major with a minor in Substance Abuse.  He has a 3.5 grade point average and was inducted into Phi Alpha Honor Society.

At Ramapo, Matthew has been active in several organizations, including the Social Work Club and Phi Alpha Honors Society.

Matthew has also been involved in off-campus activities and organizations, including Bergen County Adult Protective Services and Rockland Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependence.

2015 Recipients

Erin Healy

Erin Healy of Centereach, New York is a Social Work major with double minors in Psychology and Substance Abuse. She has a 3.89 grade point average. Erin is a member of both Alpha Lambda Delta and Golden Key International Honor Societies.  At Ramapo, Erin has been active in several organizations and activities, including Ramapo Pride and the Women’s Center. She is the current President of Ramapo Pride and the current Office Manager of the Women’s Center.


Erin has also been involved in off –campus activities and organizations, including internships at Strengthen Our Sisters, CareOne, and Bergen Regional Medical Center.


Tammy Smith

Tammy Smith of Fair Lawn, N.J. is a social work major. She has a 3.92 grade point average.

At Ramapo, Tammy is a member of Active Minds and the Social Work Club. Off campus, she is a board member of the Bergen County National Alliance for Mental Illness and a volunteer at Bergen Regional Medical Center.

Tammy sees herself as an advocate for the rights of the mentally ill. Her career goal is to work in community mental health and to implement policy changes in the field.

2014 Recipients

Julia Hughes

Julia Hughes of Glen Rock, N.J., is a social work major.

Off campus, Julia has worked as an Apple store specialist for almost five years.

Julia is proud to have paid for five international trips without assistance.

Kelsey Kozak

Kelsey Kozak of Rutherford, NJ is a Social Science major with a concentration in Mental Health. She describes her immigrant father who died in 2008 as “an inspiration, a role model, a best friend, and most importantly, my one and only irreplaceable dad.” Kelsey wondered if she would be able to attend college because her family lived a sparse life. At Ramapo College, she decided to seek out every opportunity to make her life better. Kelsey is proud that she will be the first member of her family to graduate from college. “My past endeavors have inspired me to go into the helping and educational counseling profession,” she said. “Higher Education Administration is a field that I am determined to pursue in graduate school.” Kelsey has a 3.31 grade point average.

Jack Nesmith

Jack Nesmith of Jersey City, NJ is a Psychology major. He is a resident assistant for Laurel Hall, a peer facilitator and involved with Real Men of Ramapo Calendar. Jack serves as secretary of Rho Alpha Sigma Honor Society for Resident Assistants and was included into the Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Society and Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society for Student Leaders. He plans to pursue a master’s degree and would like to be a counselor in a Student Affairs division of a college. In graduate school, he plans to explore goals toward improving society and becoming a mentor. “My goal is to help students find their passions in life and, as a professional, influence the next generation of student leaders,” he said. He said this scholarship helps him, “focus on getting my degree and joining the environmental movement to protect our planet.” Jack has a 3.09 grade point average.

Heidi Nani

Heidi Nani of Garnerville, NY is a Social Work major. Heidi thinks it is wonderful that there are many roles a social worker can fulfill. “As an individual who is compelled by social justice, I know I could take on multiple roles to better help individuals who are in need,” she said. Heidi has completed field work in an elementary school working with children to build their self-esteem, in a family service agency with children who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and as a co-facilitator in a creative arts program for those with Alzheimer’s. Heidi is certified in CPR and as a home health aide. On campus, she is a member of Ramapo Readers and the Social Work Club. She was inducted into the Golden Key Honor Society and Phi Alpha Honor Society. Heidi has a 3.77 grade point average.

Rachael O’Brien

“To have the ability to empower individuals to advocate for themselves or to create programs and policy for the benefit of the public are just two of many ways I will be able to impact the world around me,” said Rachael O’Brien, a senior in the Social Work major who has earned a 3.71 grade point average. Internships at Bergen Regional Medical Center and at Northwest Bergen Senior Center helped Rachael put her goals into action. In addition to internships, Rachael worked as a publicist for the Women’s Center on campus and volunteered at Bergen County Jail and a drug rehabilitation center in art therapy group sessions. On campus, she is a member of the student clubs NORML and 1Step, as well as the Yoga Club. Rachael is from Seaside Park, NJ.

Chase Burns

Chase Burns of Sussex, NJ is a Social Work major with a minor in Psychology. Her goal is to work with and advocate for adolescents in the foster care system. “They face the most adversity in terms of being adopted into permanent, healthy homes,” she said. She would also like to increase the societal support these youths receive. Chase’s experiences are preparing her to reach her goal. She earned an associate degree in Human Services and Liberal Arts from the County College of Morris. She then took a semester off to build houses in Thailand with Habitat for Humanity. At Ramapo College, she was an intern with the Division of Child Protection and Permanency through a program called the Baccalaureate Child Welfare Education Program. Completing the internship enabled Chase to begin a career with the division this past January. “Attending college is not just a choice for me,” she said. “It is a critical necessity to establish the professional capabilities to pursue my dreams of helping to change the atmosphere of the child welfare services in our society.” Chase graduated with a 3.98 grade point average.

Aloha Wilkins

Aloha Wilkins of Boonton, NJ is a Social Work major with a concentration in Substance Abuse. A returning adult student, Aloha is a board member of Family Promise Homeless Shelter and a committee member for United Way of Northern NJ. On campus, she is active with Ramapo Readers and the Social Work Club. Aloha says, “It has been individuals in the helping professions who have helped me restore my sanity by providing me with their time, encouragement, counseling, and at times, shelter.” She now wishes to pursue a career in which she can enable others to reach their goals. Aloha has gained invaluable experience working as a direct care counselor with developmentally disabled persons. She describes herself as someone who knows what she wants and who is willing to work hard to achieve her academic and career goals. With a grade point average of 3.04, Aloha has proven herself as a conscientious and dedicated student, while providing an excellent role model for her two children.

2013 Recipient

Samuel Badillo

Social Work major Samuel Badillo says, “people should strive to get the most out of their education and always have a desire to reach the highest form of education they can achieve.” Samuel has completed 400 hours of field placement with Mount Carmel Guild Behavioral Health, an agency that provides services for adults with severe mental illnesses. This past academic year he performed 200 hours of service at Palisades Emergency Residence Corporation, an agency in Union City, NJ that operates a food pantry, soup kitchen and homeless shelter. Samuel is from West New York, NJ and has a 3.38 grade point average.

2012 Recipient

Carol Parker

Carol Parker of Hackensack, NJ worked for 27 years in the corporate world and managed a budget in excess of $3.5 million. After being downsized, she went back to college to earn a degree. As a Bergen Community College student, Carol became a mentor for College Now After-School Academy, a supplemental learning program for at-risk third graders in New Milford, NJ. She also was a math tutor and continues to assist non-traditional students at a community college. She volunteers in the community with Habitat for Humanity, as a Sunday School superintendent and as an intern at the Midland Park Senior Center and Adult Protective Service. At Ramapo, Carol was a Social Work major who graduated in January, 2013 with a 4.00 grade point average. She was a member of the Social Work Club and was active with Ramapo Readers.

2010 Recipient

N.Wayne Harper

N.Wayne Harper of Garfield, NJ, a junior, is a Social Work major. He has distinguished himself as coordinator of Ramapo Readers, a project of the SocialWork Club, which promotes literacy one book at a time by collecting books and distributing them to schools serving the K-12 population and social service agencies in New Jersey. Wayne has increased membership in Ramapo Readers and enlisted the support of other Ramapo clubs. He oversees the sorting, boxing and delivery of books and has met with donors and students and teachers at the schools involved. With Wayne’s leadership, Ramapo Readers has distributed more than 30,000 books to nine schools in Paterson, NJ.

The scholarship I received is extremely significant in preparation for my future. It has provided me the means and opportunity to return to Ramapo to obtain my degree in Social Work. The invaluable knowledge I have gained will make it possible for me to start a non-profit agency that will concentrate on healthy child development, education and empowerment in order to ensure a better life for the underprivileged. Receiving a scholarship for assisting others and doing community work is a great blessing. Because of Marion Dugan’s generosity, it has inspired me to strive for excellence and nothing less. As a result of receiving this scholarship, when I am able I will also become a benefactor of a needy Ramapo student.

2009 Recipient

Cristina Melgarejo

Cristina Melgarejo is in her senior year at Ramapo majoring in social work. Cristina has earned a 3.71 grade point average while continuing to perform over 200 hours of volunteer work every semester. She has completed internships at West Bergen Mental Health and at the Bergen County Central Trades and Labor Council (AFL-CIO). At the Trades and Labor Council, Cristina was an election volunteer, educating constituents on the political process. She also volunteers at Shelter Our Sisters and Citizen Action doing research on consumers’ rights. Cristina plans to continue her education and pursue a master’s in social work.

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