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The Founding President George T. Potter and Laurie Potter Ph.D. Scholarship was started in 2009. As Ramapo College’s inaugural president, George Potter played the role of academic visionary, overseeing scores of founding faculty members, construction of a brand new campus and the establishment of the academic values that now define the College.
George Potter was born in England, the son of a boatman. He earned degrees from Stanford Hall, Loughborough and Oriel College, Oxford, where he developed adult education and extension programs. He continued this work at the University of Alberta in Canada, then helped plan the new Grand Valley State College in Michigan, where he progressed to vice president for Academic Affairs. It was from this position that he took the post of president at the experimental Ramapo College of New Jersey.
From the beginning, Dr. Potter and his wife Laurie championed programs that increased access to Ramapo for women, veterans, minorities and people with disabilities. Mrs. Potter, in particular, was instrumental in making sure that persons with disabilities felt welcome at Ramapo and helped launch what is now the Office of Specialized Services. The College’s academic buildings were constructed to be accessible to persons with disabilities, well before the Americans With Disabilities Act required such measures.
At his death in 2009 friends, family and former colleagues of Dr. Potter contributed to this endowed scholarship fund. The purpose of the fund is to recognize outstanding upperclassmen registered with the Office of Specialized Services who intend to continue their education in graduate school, or are currently attending a Ramapo College Graduate program.
- any documented disability, any major
- minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA, minimum of 64 credits, and intention to attend graduate school
- OSS students in an RCNJ graduate program
- Essay topic: Describe what plans you have for graduate school, and any graduate programs to which you may have applied. Include the school or workplace accommodations you’ll be requesting, if any, and your career plans. Please proofread your essay; it is recommended that you ask your OSS advisor or other advisor to read your essay before you submit it.
The recipient of this award would like to remain anonymous.
The recipient of this award wishes to remain anonymous.
Patricia Giudice of Jackson, N.J. is a senior Biology major with minors in Neuroscience and Chemistry. She has a 3.5 GPA, is a Presidential Scholarship recipient and member of the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society.
At Ramapo, Patricia has been active in several organizations and activities on campus, including Hillel, Wellness Is Now, and the OSS Coalition. Patricia has been a part of Hillel since her freshman year and has held the publicist and VP positions before taking on the role of President this year. She is very proud to serve as someone to look up to for the Jewish students on campus. This is also Patricia’s third year as an OSS Coalition Peer Facilitator.
She volunteers her time at various Temple Beth Am Shalom events with her family whenever home. She worked in the Six Flags Great Adventure Safari for three years in animal education, care, and veterinary medicine. This summer, she worked at County Line Veterinary Hospital as a technician assistant, working hands on and learning about small animal medicine. Patricia hopes to continue onto Veterinary school after graduation to obtain a D.V.M.
Theresa Aitchison is a senior Biology major who plans to attend graduate school for Physical Therapy. She currently holds a 3.9 GPA, is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Greek Honor Society and a Dean’s List recipient.
Theresa is involved with the College Against Cancer Club, is a member of the Ramapo College Mentorship Program, and has worked with MEVO in environmental clean-ups both on and off-campus.
Theresa Aitchison is a Junior Biology Major, planning on attending graduate school for Physical Therapy after her time at Ramapo. She holds a 3.9 GPA, is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Greek Honor Society, and is also a Dean’s List recipient. She has been involved with the College Against Cancer club at Ramapo, and has worked with MEVO in environmental clean-ups both on and off-campus. Theresa volunteers as a religious education teacher, and enjoys dancing in her free time.
GinaMarie Lagomarsino of Washington Township, N.J. is a Business major with a concentration in Marketing. The senior has a 3.88 GPA, and plans to attend law school after graduation. “I hope to become a lawyer and help those in need.”
She is active on campus in the Phi Alpha Delta International Pre-Law Fraternity, the Student Government Association, and Golden Key International Honor Society. GinaMarie has also volunteered at Table to Table, a community-based organization that collects and distributes food that would otherwise be wasted.
“I’m proud of my involvement in the many clubs on campus, and I enjoy getting involved to bring about awareness of issues and to help others,” says Donald Irons, who is from Independence Township, N.J. Donald is a staff writer/reporter for the Ramapo News, and a member of the Young Leftists and Progressives Club, where he helps organize presentations regarding political issues, most recently a discussion titled “The Flaws of the Party System.”
The Biology major is also a research assistant in Microbiology, working with Dr. Tom Owen on Osteoblast Cell Differentiation.
Last summer, Donald worked for General Hydroponics in Santa Rosa, CA as a quality control Lab Technician. After graduation, he plans on pursuing his PhD in Microbiology research. He is a member of the Ramapo College Honors Program, and working toward a minor in Literature.
Nikita Bernard of Spring Valley, NY is a transfer Social Work student. She has a 3.1 GPA. She is involved in the on campus Acappella group 4gottensuitcase. Off campus, she is a motivational speaker for Think First organization with Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw NY. She also enjoys singing and acting for musical theater, which she has been doing since she was a freshman in high school.
“Being that I am a transfer student I am proud to say that I received a scholarship award after being in the college for one semester,” says Nikita. “I am a proud Roadrunner that has a lot to offer to the college.”
Megan Valdes of Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ is a Business Administration major with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in International Business. She has a 3.75 GPA and is a member of the National Society for Collegiate Scholars, Golden Key International Honour Society, and has consistently made the Dean’s list.
At Ramapo, Megan is active in her role as President of Golden Key and as the Secretary of Commuter Affairs with the Student Government Association. She works closely with the Coordinator of Commuter Affairs to ensure that the campus is welcoming to both the residents and commuters of Ramapo.
Off campus, Megan teaches CCD to fourth graders on Sundays at her church, St. Luke’s RC Church in Ho-Ho-Kus.
In the Spring of 2016, Megan completed an internship with the United States Department of State in Washington, D.C.
Marianne Brennan of Dumont, NJ is a Literature major with a minor in psychology. She has a 3.6 grade point average. Marianne is a member of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society, The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and Chi Alpha Epsilon.
In her junior year, she was a part of the editorial staff for Ramapo’s literary magazine Trillium. This past summer, Marianne interned at the Worth Pinkham Memorial Library in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ. She plans to earn her masters in Library Science, and become a librarian. Marianne has a passion for reading and writing.
Matthew Luciano Cicitta
Matthew Luciano Cicitta of Oakland, NJ is a Mathematics major.
He has a 4.0 grade point average. Matthew has been on the Dean’s list for the past three years, and was inducted into the Golden Key Honour Society.
At Ramapo, Matthew has been active in several organizations and activities, including Alpha Lambda Delta, OSS Tutoring and Peer Coaching, Peer Facilitation and Alternate Spring Break. He was the President of Pi Mu Epsilon, the Mathematics Honor Society, during Fall 2015.
Alexis Elefteriou of Palisades Park, NJ is a Psychology major with a minor in Substance Abuse. She has a 3.8 GPA. Alexis was inducted into the Alpha Lambda Honor Society, the Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Society, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars as well as Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology.
At Ramapo, Alexis has been a student representative in the Third Year Engagement Board.
Melissa Silverman of Bridgewater, N.J., is a social work major and gerontology minor. She has a 3.32 grade point average.
At Ramapo, Melissa holds an E-board position for the Community Service and Fundraising committee of the Sigma Delta Tau sorority and is E-board secretary for the Order of Omega Honor Society. Melissa completed an internship at L’Oreal USA in a research lab.
Off-campus, Melissa volunteers at an elementary school and at two health care facilities. She looks forward to applying to a Master of Social Work program. She will be admitted with advanced standing because of Ramapo’s strong social work program. Melissa’s career goal is to become a licensed clinical social worker.
Jacqueline Jordan of Montvale, N.J., is a biology major. She has a 3.29 grade point average.
Jacqueline works as a part-time aide at a physical therapy practice to gain experience in health care. She plans to become a physician’s assistant. Jacqueline shadows physician assistants and volunteers at The Valley Hospital in order to prepare herself for applying to a physician’s assistant program.
She is interested in working with Native Americans in the western part of the United States or in a rural area on the East Coast. Jacqueline has an interest in Doctors Without Borders. She wants to help people in other parts of the world who lack adequate health care services.
Megan Byrne of Hillsdale, NJ is a Psychology major and a Visual Arts minor. She has held several on-campus jobs. In addition she is a Student Government Class of 2015 representative, secretary of the Commuter Affairs Club, Pre-med/Pre-health Club and the Residence Hall Council, among others. She also completed a fieldwork placement at an after-school program for children who live in an underserved community. Megan describes it as “an amazing opportunity, which enabled me to inspire the individuality of creative expression in the children that I worked with.”
Tara McFadden of Wyckoff, NJ is a Social Work major. She is a member of the OSS Coalition and performs community service with groups that raise money for awareness about congenital heart defects. Tara is completing an internship with an adult day care program. She says that she hopes to learn about the needs of the elderly and ways that social work can improve their lives. Ultimately, Tara would like to be a social worker in a hospital. “I hope to go into pediatric cardiology social work. I feel that I am able to relate to kids and their parents.” Tara has a 3.60 grade point average.
Jacob Marks of Piscataway, NJ is an Accounting Major. He is a double minor in International Studies and International Business. He has held internships at Prudential, the Finance Department of Somerset Medical Center and for Senator Robert Menendez. Jacob is president of the Micro-Finance Program and is the public relations chair for College Park Apartments. He is vice president of the Residence Hall Association and a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, the professional business fraternity. Jacob prides himself on planning ahead. That is the reason why he spent three weeks studying in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Tivoli Gardens did not draw him to the city. Rather, it was the Copenhagen Business School where he would like to enroll in the school’s two-year graduate program, Accounting, Strategy and Control and earn an MS in Economics and Business Administration. “This worldrecognized program would provide me with the technical skills to understand the cost, benefit and risk that enterprises use to manage the strategic challenges within their organizations, and to design the proper courses of action, incentive structures and appropriate responses,” he said. Jacob has a 3.38 grade point average
Nicole Sanzari of River Edge, NJ is a Psychology major. She serves as secretary of the Psychology
Club and Dumbledore’s Army. Nicole also is a member of the Disney Club and the Film Society. She plans to attend graduate school and become a school psychologist. Nicole said completing this rigorous three years of schooling will bring her one step closer to earning a Psy.D. degree. She believes early diagnosis and educational accommodations are critical to special needs students. “Accommodations have proven instrumental for me personally in achieving high academic achievement. I would like to share my experiences and work toward enabling others like me to one day realize their potential,” she said. Nicole is intrigued by the unique one-on-one pathology involved with being a school psychologist. Her heart is in the difference she can make in the school environment. Nicole has a 3.77 grade point average.
Matthew Kobza of Wharton, NJ is a Psychology and Social Contract major with a concentration in Community Mental Health. He has a minor in History. He is a senator-at-large for the Office of Student Conduct and a liaison to the Black Student Union. He has held leadership positions in Alpha Phi Omega National Community Service Fraternity, and is a member of the Judicial Review Board, Active Minds, Alpha Delta Lambda and the Study Club. Matthew coordinated several community service projects including a magazine drive for U.S. soldiers, a food drive for the Center for Food Action, a trip to Eva’s Village soup kitchen and another to Ramapo Habitat for Humanity. He is proud of performing 120 hours of community service through Alpha Phi Omega and in presenting his research, Social Media and Human Interaction, at the Ramapo College Psychology Symposium. A two-time recipient of the scholarship, Matthew said it reminds him to “have strong student skills, work ethic and ability to communicate with others.” Matthew has a 3.00 grade point average.
Nancy Pandiscia of Verona, NJ is a Social Work major. A returning adult student, she was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 43. This, after being a stay-at-home mom, a birth doula, a child birth educator and an office manager. Nancy, who has a 3.64 grade point average, has a message: “It was a difficult year for me but your encouragement and belief in me has lifted me up. I want to show my gratitude by continuing to pursue a dream that I have held for a long time.”
This scholarship has offered me the opportunity to follow my dream to become a social worker.
Kelly Peterson of Mahwah, NJ is majoring in Visual Arts with a concentration in Drawing and Painting and carries a Psychology minor. Kelly fights to help others understand her bipolar disorder and believes that “it is not my disorder that will determine my life, but my drive, spirit and uniqueness.” Kelly, who has a 3.47 grade point average, is grateful for the financial support of this scholarship and hopes that other students will benefit from her experiences.
“Daily, I strive to overcome my learning disability while attempting to enrich the lives of many,” says Demi Piekarsky of Wyckoff, NJ. Demi is an EMT for the towns of Wyckoff and Hawthorne, both in New Jersey, and Blue Rill Day Camp, NY. She also volunteers in the Emergency Department at The Valley Hospital. On campus, Demi is majoring in Psychology with a Biology minor. She has a 3.45 grade point average. Demi is vice president of Hillel and a peer academic coach for first year students registered with the Office of Specialized Services. “I am a competent and warmhearted person to have during a time of crisis,” says Demi who interested in pursuing a post-undergraduate Nursing degree.
“This award has changed my life, and allowed me to pursue my dreams,” said Susan Vanino who graduated with a degree in Social Work in 2013. “While it was challenging to return to college as a non-traditional student, as a person with a significant disability, I was motivated during my undergraduate studies by my goal to eventually earn a MSW. Last spring, as graduationneared, my plans for graduate school became overshadowed by looming worries of mounting student debt. Being selected for this award not only provided financial support towards graduate studies, it gave me the confidence to move forward,” she said. Susan began the Advanced Standing Program at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work last fall and will graduate in May. She is completing a year-long internship at Comprehensive Behavioral Health Care in Hackensack. She plans to work in an agency setting, where I can assist people with disabilities in realizing their full potential. “I will be forever grateful to Carol Schaefer for making the Carol Schaefer Human Services/Shepherd Foundation Award possible, and to those at Ramapo College who encouraged me to apply for this remarkable award,” Susan said.
Patricia Jakubova of Oxford, NJ is a Psychology major. She was raised by a “well rounded and educated family whose goal throughout life has been to help others.” Patricia plans to follow that path. She wants to become a psychologist who specializes in treating mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. Patricia is gauging her interest in geriatric patients by volunteering at a nursing home. She says of her time spent with them, “The elderly are wonderful…full of life and amazing stories…I do not want to pass up on such an opportunity.” Patricia, who has a 3.92 grade point average, is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.
Radhika Shah of Montvale, NJ is majoring in Nursing and Psychology. After completing an externship in behavioral health, Radhika is considering psychiatric nursing. Radhika volunteers with a youth group at Vraj Temple and at Sunrise Assisted Living. “Interacting with people helps build skills in communicating therapeutically, which is a skill required in Nursing,” the senior says. Radhika, who has a 3.05 grade point average, says, “receiving the scholarship has been an honor and has affected my life in a positive way.”
I am extremely thankful to receive this scholarship and want to thank the Potter family for this award so I can achieve my goals. Thank you!
Alison Culvert of Montvale, NJ is a Literature major with the goal of earning a master’s degree and becoming an elementary school teacher. College life was proceeding as planned when Alison was injured in a car accident. The ensuing recovery and disabilities forced her to withdraw from college. She says it took a year and a half for her to be herself again; she credits Ramapo College with providing significant help. Her ability to teach and learn with others is demonstrated by serving as peer facilitator for the Office of Specialized Services, teaching ESL to campus cafeteria employees and her involvement in a sustainability living facility pilot program. Alison, who has a 3.73 grade point average, is a member of the Sigma Tau Delta Literature Honor Society and a founding sister of the College’s chapter of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority. Her life is again proceeding on plan. After graduation, she will enroll in a master’s program in Nashville, TN where her family lives.
“My passion for the social work profession and advocacy for others is my highest priority,” says Dolores Costanzo of Mount Laurel, NJ. She credits receiving the scholarship with allowing her to continue her education in Social Work. “When perceived in the real world as a professional, I can, without a doubt, attend to matters of social injustice in the most appropriate, accurate way.” Dolores consistently demonstrates her penchant for advocacy by volunteering for the Special Olympics, tutoring in the Office of Specialized Services, interning at the Center for Food Action and Care Plus New Jersey – Families First, as a peer facilitator and holding several positions with Residence Life. Dolores, who has a 3.61 grade point average, is president of the Social Work Club, a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and has been named to the Phi Alpha Honor Society and the Rho Alpha Sigma Honor Society.
Freshman Armando Lamberti of Roselle, NJ is a Literature major who is interested in screenwriting and journalism. He chose to write about James Joyce’s “Ulysses” for his Admissions essay and eloquently explained how a work of art can change one’s perception of the world. A graduate of Roselle Catholic High School, Armando was a member of the Political Science Club and traveled to Manhattan each week for violin lessons.
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