Skip to Scholarships site navigationSkip to main content

Topken, Marina and William Teacher Education Scholarship

Make a Donation

Marina Topken graduated from Ramapo College in 1987 with a degree in American and International Studies. She taught and translated German at several language institutions in the area and tutors children in underserved schools in Paterson, NJ. Mrs. Topken has been a steady supporter of the College’s The Fund for Ramapo College since 1997. She and her husband William have been involved with the Friends of Ramapo for many years and were instrumental in raising funds for the Friends. Mrs. Topken served as the Friends’ president and Mr. Topken as the group’s treasurer.

In 2006, Mr. and Mrs. Topken established this endowed scholarship fund to honor the positive relationship they have shared with the College and their commitment to education. Specifically, the Topken Scholarship benefits teacher education students who demonstrate community service and leadership at Ramapo.

  • For full time students in any teacher education certification program
  • Demonstrated community service, College leadership and financial need
  • Mahwah resident preferred
  • GPA 3.5+
  • Recipient selected by a committee of faculty from each school and the Office of the Provost

Scholarship application is closed for this semester.

2022 Recipient

Hannah Velarde

Hannah Velarde of Oakland, N.J. is an Elementary Education major with an additional certification in Middle School Math. She has a 3.6 GPA, is part of the Honors Program, and is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. 

Hannah is involved on campus with Ramapo Student Ambassadors, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Commuter Affairs. She has also volunteered at A Step Ahead Preschool and North Hudson Community Affairs. 

Hannah is enrolled in Ramapo’s 4+1 Masters in Special Education and hopes to eventually pursue a Ph. D. in the field of education. 

2021 Recipient

Jessica Ryan

Jessica Ryan of Bloomfield, N.J. is a Literature/English major in the Teacher Education program. She is a member of the Honors Program and the Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society. She is also a consultant at the Center for Reading and Writing and a substitute teacher at Bloomfield School District.

Jessica served as a Senator-at-Large and the Secretary of Programming in the Student Government Association for three years. She is published in Trillium, the college magazine, and The Ramapo News. Currently she is a writer for and hosts her own podcast, Just Kidding Podcast, on Spotify.

In Spring 2021 Jessica will be entering a student-teaching role at Bloomfield High School, alongside working as an editorial intern at Princeton University Press.

2020 Recipient

Kimberly Evans

“I hope to get a job as a high school history teacher and eventually go to graduate school to earn my Master’s degree in history,” says Kimberly Evans, a History major in the Teacher Certification Program as well as the College Honors Program. She has a 3.96 GPA.
At Ramapo, Kimberly serves as the secretary for the Future Teachers at Ramapo Club junior year in addition to becoming a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the History Honors Society, and Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honor Society in Education. In the spring of 2018, she worked in conjunction with the EOF Program as a Student Supplemental Instructor. She also previously worked at the Jane Addams Papers Project as a transcription assistant.

Currently, Kimberly is a student teacher in a high school history classroom at Ramapo High School in Franklin Lakes, where she would love to become more involved by volunteering to help run a club. Some of her proudest accomplishments include giving a college lecture to Dr. Mustafa’s World Civilizations class and presenting her research at the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference in November 2018.
Kimberly is from Sayreville, N.J

2019 Recipient

Nicole Chagachbanian

Nicole Chagachbanian of Oradell, N.J. is a psychology major with a Teacher Education Certification. She has a 3.93 GPA and has made the Dean’s list each semester while at Ramapo. She is co-president of Kappa Delta Pi Honors Society, and a member of Psi Chi, The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the Golden Key International Honor Society.

On campus, Nicole is the Captain of the Ramapo College Dance Team, and a member of various clubs. She was also chosen to be a mentee in the prestigious Foundation Scholars Mentorship Program by the Board of Governors.

Nicole has been involved in the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference as an ambassador and staff member. She regularly volunteers at Valley Hospital and the Adler Aphasia Center, tutors, and substitute teaches. Nicole plans on attending graduate school to pursue pediatric speech language pathology.

2018 Recipient

Caitlin Shurminsky

Caitlin Shurminsky of Mahwah, N.J. is a second-year Mathematics major who plans to go into the teaching field.  She has a 3.9 GPA and has been on the Dean’s List each semester.

Caitlin is part of the College Honors Program, and Future Teachers of Ramapo. She was also inducted into Alpha Lambda Delta, an honor society for first-time, first semester undergraduate students, and will be inducted into Kappa Delta Pi, and honor society for educators, along with Pi Mu Epsilon, a national mathematics honor society, in the spring of the 2017-2018 academic year.

In addition to a rigorous course load and maintaining a high GPA, Caitlin tutors students in Discrete Structures regularly at the TAS Mathematics and Science Tutoring Center.

Caitlin is a volunteer teacher at Children’s Church and works at Abma’s Farm. “I love helping those in need and working for the community.”

2017 Recipient

Briana Gomez

Briana Gomez of Cresskill, NJ is an American Studies major and Spanish minor with a 3.93 GPA. She is pursuing a Teacher Certification in Elementary Education. Briana has received Dean’s List since starting Ramapo in the Fall of 2013. She has also been inducted into the Alpha Lambda Delta, Golden Key, and Kappa Delta Pi honor societies.

On campus, Briana serves as the Ambassador of American Studies. Currently, she is student teaching in a first grade classroom in Cresskill, NJ, an experience she loves.

In the future, Briana plans to pursue her Spanish language certification and Special Education certification.

2016 Recipients

Briana Gomez

Briana Gomez of Cresskill, NJ is an American Studies major with a 3.88 GPA.  She is pursuing teacher certification in elementary education.  On campus, Briana is a member of the American Studies, Spanish and History Club.

Since October 2015, she has been a substitute teacher for the Cresskill School system.  Briana also volunteers for Oasis, A Haven for Women and Children, as well as House on a Hill in Goshen, NY.

Lauren Schmidt

Lauren Schmidt of Emerson, NJ is a Biology major and a member of the teacher certification program. She has a 3.941 GPA. Lauren was inducted into Beta Beta Beta, Kappa Delta Pi, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Golden Key International Honor Society.

Lauren has been involved in the Ramapo College Honors Program, the Ramapo Chorale, and the Music Club,  She is also a valued lab assistant in the Biology department.  In addition, through Leaders in Service, she has helped incoming freshmen transition to college life and worked with peers on local civic engagement projects.

Lauren interned at the Meadowlands Environment Center in Lyndhurst, NJ and worked as a Summer Teaching Fellow at North Star Academy College Preparatory High School in Newark, NJ. She currently works as a Campus Ambassador for Uncommon Schools.  In the fall 2016, she will be teaching 9th grade biology at North Star Academy.

“I believe the best way to promote stewardship of the environment is through education and appreciation.”



2015 Recipient

Briana Gomez

Briana Gomez of Cresskill, N.J. is an American studies major, minoring in Spanish with a teacher education concentration. She has a 3.89 grade point average. Briana is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and Golden Key Honor Society.
At Ramapo, Briana has been active in several organizations and activities, including the Spanish, American Studies and History clubs.
Briana also has been involved with volunteer programs including Alternative Spring Break to Rutland, Massachusetts, Oasis: A Haven for Women and Children and House on a Hill.

2014 Recipient

Stephen Lapp

Stephen Lapp of Franklin Lakes, NJ is a Literature major with a concentration in Creative Writing.  He has a 3.65 grade point average.

2013 Recipient

Elissa D'Aries

Elissa D’Aries of Clifton, NJ is a Literature major who is pursuing certification in Elementary Education. Elissa said the scholarship is an opportunity to steady her financial prospects, and for opening her mind to achieve what she never thought possible. Her goal is to pursue her passion and to become financially stable while changing young people’s lives. Elissa has been a supplemental instructor for the College’s EOF program. She has gained valuable classroom experience through this program. She is a member of the Literature Club, Ramapo Readers, Plant Strong, 1Step and Global Roadrunners, among other campus activities. Elissa has a 3.92 grade point average.

2012 Recipient

Melissa Pepe

Melissa Pepe of Montville, NJ is a History Major. Professor Carter Meyer, convener of the major, says Melissa “is not only an outstanding student, but also a major contributor to the success of other students through her work as the student coordinator of the History Tutoring Fellows. She has worked tirelessly to develop documentation workshops for students enrolled in History courses, all of which have been well attended and successful. She has also worked long hours as an individual tutor, helping large numbers of students master the research, writing and study skills needed to succeed in History courses. She has been a stalwart contributor to HGS recruiting events.” Melissa, an enthusiastic student, maintains a 3.79 grade point average.

2011 Recipient

Amanda Lentino

Amanda Lentino is a Literature major in her senior year. Amanda is pursuing a minor in Psychology, and teacher education certification in English. “Amanda’s behind-the-scenes efforts to help our students are unparalleled,” says a member of the Literature faculty. She also compiled a “massive and impressive” number of documents to help with a faculty member’s research, and presented a paper at a Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges conference in the fall.

This scholarship will allow me to continue my education by attending graduate school to receive a master’s degree in Education. It will lessen the financial burden and bring me one step closer to becoming an English teacher.

2010 Recipient

Caitlin McGee

Senior Caitlin McGee is from Wayne, NJ. Caitlin is majoring in American Studies with a minor in Psychology. She is pursuing teacher certification in elementary education. Her grade point average is 3.60. Caitlin is a member of Ramapo Feminists United, the Yoga Club and the Outdoor Club. She works off campus and participates in a number of volunteer activities on campus including a Thanksgiving food drive, campus clean up, and “Take Back The Night” in support of Violence Awareness Week. “After graduation I plan to enroll in graduate school to earn my Special Education Certification and eventually my master’s in School Counseling and Counseling Psychology,” Caitlin says.

This scholarship will help me pursue my dreams as a future educator. I am very grateful to the donors for this gift.

2009 Recipient

Christine Steinmetz

“My goal is to become an art educator — teaching children to discover and appreciate the value of art and its positive impacts,” says Christine Steinmetz. Christine is a senior majoring in visual arts with a concentration in drawing and painting. She is also pursuing teacher certification in art. In October, 2008 Christine exhibited 65 of her drawings and paintings on campus. She will be student teaching in spring 2009 at a middle school in Montvale, New Jersey. She is an active volunteer, and has been working at Kings Supermarket for six years. Christine has earned a 3.94 grade point average.

This scholarship will serve as a reminder that hard work, dedication, and passion rarely go unnoticed.This scholarship motivates and encourages me to pursue my journey of becoming an art educator.This scholarship also allows me to continue creating my own art – something that I am very passionate about. My hope is that my love and enthusiasm of the arts will inspire my future students to embrace their passions and pursue them.

Back to List