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Annunziato, Melissa Memorial Scholarship

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Early in the summer of 2002, Ramapo College junior Melissa Annunziato was tragically killed in a car accident.  Melissa’s mother, her colleagues, friends, and neighbors sought to establish a permanent legacy to Melissa, her spirit, and beliefs. They spearheaded an effort to raise funds to start an endowed scholarship fund at Ramapo and held an event in February 2003 to celebrate Melissa’s life.

At Ramapo, Melissa was a Literature major working toward teacher certification in Elementary Education.  She was committed to community service, worked in the teacher education office and was active in the student organization, Future Educators of America. This award recognizes students with a similar commitment and is open to students who participate in service-learning opportunities or alternative spring break programs, particularly those who are interested in working with children.


  • For students who participate in service learning or alternative spring break
  • Teacher Education students preferred
  • GPA of 2.75+
  • Selected by director of Service Learning and the Director of Teacher Education
  • Applicants must submit a one-page essay describing their commitment to community service and the betterment of children, how Ramapo has been an influence and their career aspirations

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2019 Recipient

Kaetlynn Ayala

Kaetlynn Ayala of Lodi, N.J. is a Social Work major. She has a 3.89 GPA and is a member of the Dean’s List. She has demonstrated strength and potential as an intern during her Junior year in the undergraduate Social Work Program, leading to employment at a rewarding non-profit organization.

At Ramapo, Kaetlynn has been active in several organizations, including the Social Work Club and the Phi Alpha Honor Society. Her involvement in these organizations strengthens her passion for the Social Work field. She has also been involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters as a mentor and the Lodi Volunteer Ambulance Rescue Squad where she serves as an Emergency Medical Technician, as well as President for two consecutive years.

“I have been accepted into Ramapo’s Master of Social Work Advanced Standing Program. I hope to continue gaining the knowledge and experience along with the collaboration with some of the most inspirational figures both on staff at the college and alongside me in the classroom. I plan on pursuing my this graduate degree in order to acquire the skills needed to become an effective Social Worker that will one day be considered a leader and a changemaker in the community.”

2018 Recipient

Hallie Meister

Hallie Meister of Sayreville, N.J. is a Literature major with a concentration in Elementary Education. She has a 3.44 GPA and has been on the Dean’s list.

 At Ramapo, Hallie has been active in several honor societies, including Sigma Tau Delta (the Literature Honor Society), where she has helped to raise money for the Red Cross as well as a local battered women and children’s shelter. 

“I’m passionate about animals and the unconditional love that they can bring to people.” Hallie trained her dog to be a therapy dog and brings him to children’s reading groups to relax young readers. For several years she has also worked at a preschool with children aged six weeks to five years. “After graduation I plan to earn a Master’s in childhood development and work in a preschool or primary grade school.”

2017 Recipient

Nicole Chagachbanian

Nicole Chagachbanian of Oradell, NJ is a Psychology major with a Teacher Education Certification. She has a 3.8 GPA, and is a part of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the Golden Key International Honor Society.

Nicole’s participation helped the Ramapo College Dance Team achieve fifth place at a nationally accredited competition. She is also part of the Future Teachers Club, and the Psychology Coalition.

Nicole has also been involved in the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference as a leader and staff member, a fourth grade Sunday School teacher at St. Leon’s Armenian Church, and an assistant for dance performances at nursing homes and rehabilitation centers with Mariann’s School of Dance in Paramus. In addition, Nicole’s writing was published by Seventeen magazine.

2016 Recipient

Nicole Doneen Picinich

Nicole Doneen Picinich of Rutherford, NJ is a History major with teacher certification. She has 3.74 GPA. Nicole was inducted to the Alpha Lambda Delta, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Omicron Delta Kappa Phi Alpha Theta, and Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society.

At Ramapo, Nicole has been active in several organizations and activities, including Peer Facilitators, History Club, and the “You’re Not Alone” Anti-Bullying Club.

Nicole has also served as a volunteer teacher for a Catholic school and participated in alternative spring break.

“Being a first generation college student…scholarships mean that my hard work and dedication are not wasted.  For my parents this means that all their hard work to send me to college has paid off as well.”

2015 Recipient

Alyssa Martin

Alyssa Martin of Wyckoff, N.J. is a mathematics major and is pursuing teacher certification. Alyssa has a 4.0 grade point average. She has served as president of Kappa Delta Pi, the Teaching Honor Society.

At Ramapo College, Alyssa is a member of Future Teachers at Ramapo. She has volunteered at the New Jersey Conference for Exceptional Children and at the Depot, an all-volunteer gift shop, the Hermitage Museum and the New Jersey Special Olympics.

Alyssa credits working at her town’s library for the past six years in the children’s department and being a high school substitute teacher for sparking an interest in education and working with children.

2014 Recipient

Brianne Kennedy

Brianne Kennedy of Old Bridge, NJ is an International Studies major and carries minors in Human Rights & Genocide and Women & Gender Studies. During her first year at Ramapo College, Brianne explored different opportunities in leadership and academia. She found that one of her passions was combatting social justice issues through community service. Brianne has amassed more than 300 hours of community service through the College’s Civic and Community Engagement Center where she became area manager. She planned events for the Leaders in Service Program and won honors from the Center for Student Involvement for campus participation. Brianne participated in an alternative spring break trip to Asheville, NC to build houses. She is particularly pleased to have served as a tutor for the International Rescue Committee working with refugee children at a Youth Summer Academy. She spent six weeks working with children from China, Tibet, Russia, Jordan, Sudan, Iraq and other countries. The experience has inspired Brianne to continue her education and attend graduate school. She has a 3.83 grade point average.

I am so thankful to be receiving this scholarship, which will help me achieve all of my dreams in College and beyond!

2013 Recipient

Nicole Schneider

Nicole Schneider of Rivervale, NJ is a Psychology major who is pursuing teacher certification in Elementary And Middle School Education. Nicole is a teacher’s aide who works with ESL students in an elementary school in Suffern, NY, where she also participates in the after school Homework Club. Nicole enjoys sports and teaches younger children the fundamentals of softball and basketball. She is active in the College’s Education Society, varsity softball and the Student Athletic Advisory Committee. Nicole notes that her parents volunteered throughout her childhood and she is glad “they instilled in me how rewarding it is to get involved and give of myself.” Nicole has a 3.92 grade point average. In addition to teaching, she would like to become a high school softball coach.

This scholarship has helped prepare me to be a successful teacher in the future.

2012 Recipient

Alison Culvert

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.

This scholarship has given me the opportunity to continue to save in order to put myself through graduate school to earn my Master’s degree in Education.

2011 Recipient

Taryn Blaustein

Taryn Blaustein of Parsippany, NJ, a senior, is a Social Work major. On and off campus she has demonstrated her compassion for those with physical and mental illnesses. Taryn has completed internships with the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Morris County, the NJ Aids Services/Eric Johnson House and NewBridge Services that provides services for mental illness and substance abuse. She is a member of the Mental Health Players, an acting troupe, with the Morris County Mental Health Association. As a member, Taryn received the 2011 Ambassador Award from the Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma. She is a member of Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society and Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society and volunteers with Jersey Battered Women’s Services. Taryn, who has a 3.98 grade point average, choose Social Work as a major because it will allow her “ample opportunity to help those facing serious hardships to reach their greatest potential.”


2010 Recipient

Whitney Breckenridge

Whitney Breckenridge of Fair Haven, NJ has always wanted to become a teacher. The International Studies major, who is minoring in Spanish, is also taking courses toward teacher certification in Social Studies. Volunteering as a tutor for elementary school children and as a camp counselor has allowed her to hone her skills. One of her fondest memories is teaching a second grader to subtract, a concept his teachers had been unable to accomplish. Whitney, who has a grade point average of 3.70, taught him to tap his fingers on the desk to keep track of the numbers. “I had been able to help him understand a concept that he found to be impossible. This is just one of the many reasons why I have chosen to go into the education field.”

2009 Recipient

Kelly Grapentine

“Working as a resident assistant in Pine Hall and being a peer facilitator for first-year students cemented my decision to enter the teacher education program,” says Kelly Grapentine. Kelly is a senior majoring in history while pursuing teacher certification in social studies. She has earned a 3.74 grade point average. Last year she participated in a semester exchange at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Kelly has been a volunteer with the Student Literacy Corps, Relay for Life, and at The Hermitage. She is Vice President of the Student Government Association and is involved in the American Democracy Project. “If I were not becoming a teacher, I would have tried to be a politician,” she says. “I love making people excited, and hearing their concerns and then doing something about it.”

I received the Melissa Annunziato Scholarship. It is great that people can be rewarded for leading their lives as Melissa did. I am very grateful for this award and for my future opportunities to work with children.

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