For 25 years North Jersey Media Group staff worked closely with Ramapo College faculty member Helen Burchell to implement The Record Debate Classic. Each year debate team members from high schools throughout Bergen County competed in this prestigious event to hone their debating skills and build awareness of a timely public policy issue. Life-long learning, increasing the quality of public education and the ability to convey oneself effectively in the spoken and written word were very important to Helen Burchell. She was a member of Ramapo College’s founding faculty in teacher education and also served as director of academic outreach and grants advisor. In addition to coordinating The Record Debate Classic, Dr. Burchell served on the Donald and Flora Borg Merit Scholarship Award Committee, named for leaders of The Record. At Dr. Burchell’s death in 2005 the North Jersey Media Group Foundation made a generous commitment to the College in Helen’s memory, to be used for a scholarship for students in literature or journalism.
- For one Communications/Journalism major and one Literature major each year.
- 2.70 GPA or higher
- Financial need considered
- Selected by faculty of each school with the approval of the CA dean for Communications/Journalism major and SHGS dean for Literature major
This scholarship is not awarded through the application process.
Kaitlin Balasaygun of Freehold, N.J. is a Communication Arts major with a concentration in Journalism and a Visual Arts major with a concentration in Photography. She has a 3.9 GPA. Kaitlin is a Presidential Scholar and part of the Ramapo Honors Program.
At Ramapo, Kaitlin has been active in several organizations and activities, including competing for the college’s NCAA Division III swimming team, working as a student aid in the photography lab and running the Visual Arts Program Instagram account. In addition to her studies, Kaitlin has worked with Professor Rebecca Leung in developing a website to showcase students’ photojournalism work, and she has also created audio slideshows that range from interviewing a Paralympian to covering how COVID-19 impacted the college’s swim team. This past September, Kaitlin got to go on a research trip with Professor Eva Fazzari to California to photograph the ongoing wildfires there.
Off campus, Kaitlin interns with the aquatic sports news publication Swimming World and volunteers for the Children’s Tumor Foundation.
After graduating from Ramapo, Kaitlin plans on furthering her education by going to graduate school where she can continue to combine her love for journalism and photography. She hopes to one day work as a photojournalist covering news or sporting events.
Samantha Kim of New Milford, N.J. is a Communication Arts major with a concentration in Journalism and a minor in Visual Arts. She has a 3.9 GPA . Her academic success has granted her membership into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Lambda Pi Eta.
As a Peer Facilitator, Samantha helps first-year students adjust to college life by serving as a role model, mentor and by providing them with resources to excel. Off campus, she is involved with Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership seminars. She volunteers with them to help high schoolers develop leadership skills and motivate them to become leaders in their communities.
Samantha hopes to attend graduate school where she can continue to pursue her passion for writing and telling people’s stories.
Genesis Siverio of West New York, N.J. is an English and Literary Studies major with a concentration in Creative Writing. She also has a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She holds a 3.9 GPA.
Gen is a feminist and activist, especially for the Latinx community, and she hopes to attend graduate school and become a published author in the future.
She is in the EOF program, Honors Program, and is a new member of the Sigma Tau Delta, the International Literature Honors Society. Last summer, she worked as Supplemental Instructor for the EOF Critical Reading and Writing 102 class.
Kimberlee Bongard of Toms River, N.J. is a senior Communication Arts major with a concentration in Journalism and a minor in Music. She has a 3.49 GPA and is a member of Lambda Pi Eta.
Kimberlee serves as editor-in-chief for The Ramapo News, where she previously worked as a copy editor and as the arts & entertainment editor. She also works as a research assistant for an academic book that Dr. Christopher Reali is writing about the music industry in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
She has completed three internships in media and communications fields. Following graduation, she looks forward to working as a news reporter, focusing on New Jersey communities.
Robert Lenza of Fair Haven, N.J. is a third-year Literature major concentrating in secondary education. He has a GPA of 3.7.
“The main contribution I’ve made to campus since I came here is my work at the college’s Center for Reading and Writing, where I’ve helped students from a wide range of ages and backgrounds in grammar, writing, and rhetoric.”
In addition to that, Robert is an active member and secretary of the literature honors society, Sigma Tau Delta and is preparing an essay to submit for a future conference on critical theory. He plans to teach high school for a few years, where he can receive first-hand experience in teaching and he would eventually like to apply to graduate programs for English and literary studies. “I plan to put this scholarship money towards funding my future education.”
Royal Lamont Thomas II
Royal Lamont Thomas II of Williamstown, N.J. is a Communications major with a concentration in Journalism. Throughout his time at Ramapo he has worked at the school newspaper, The Ramapo News, served as an executive member of Brothers Making a Difference (BMAD) and hosted/organized events with the Black Student Union. Royal has also been an active member of the men’s soccer team.
“Post-graduation, I hope to find work at a local newspaper or news station to get a taste of the career firsthand.” He also plans to enroll in a graduate program to pursue a master’s degree.
Mary Elizabeth Baldwin
Mary Elizabeth Baldwin of Fair Lawn, N.J. is a junior Literature major with a concentration in Creative Writing. She has a GPA of 3.6 and is a part of the Ramapo College Honors Program and Sigma Tau Delta (literature honor society).
At Ramapo, Mary Elizabeth has been involved in several organizations and extra-curricular activities including serving on the Honors Program Executive Board, working for the Center for Student Involvement, and being a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma and Alpha Psi Omega.
During her time at Ramapo Mary Elizabeth has also gone on two conferences with the Honors Program, one in Pittsburgh and another in Atlanta, where she presented work to students and faculty from across the nation.
Sarah Sanchez of North Bergen, N.J. is a Contemporary Arts major with concentrations in film, photography and journalism. She has a 3.54 GPA and has earned a spot on the Dean’s List for three semesters.
Sarah is the web editor for The Ramapo News, where she creates web headlines, copy edits and handles all aspects of social media.
She recently worked with Glamour.com as a photographer for an article on diverse college women. She looks forward to interning for NBCUniversal in the upcoming spring semester as a photo intern. She also works part-time as a receptionist at Shyong Dental Group.
“My goal after graduation is to work as a photographer or a multimedia journalist.”
Grace Brennan of Old Bridge, NJ is a Literature major with a Creative Writing concentration. She is a member of Chi Alpha Sigma, Sigma Tau Delta, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and Golden Key International Honour Society. She has made the Dean’s List seven consecutive semesters, and has a 3.8 GPA.
At Ramapo, Grace’s most active involvement is her participation on the college’s softball team. She has been a part of the program since her freshman year and, in 2015, contributed to Ramapo’s first New Jersey Athletic Conference Championship. She was named an All-Conference Player in 2015, and has been an NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete in 2015 and 2016 as well.
Grace has also volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson, and currently works two jobs: as a lifeguard for the Wyckoff Family YMCA and as a catering manager for Rutgers University.
Following graduation, Grace’s goal is to join an AmeriCorps program that works to dismantle inequities in education.
“I hope to someday write for magazines, or create an online platform that combines my passions of music, journalism, and multimedia production,” said Amanda Krause, a Communications major concentrating in Journalism. She is a member of Lambda Pi Eta and serves as a viewpoints writer for the Ramapo News. She has made the Dean’s List twice, and has a 3.55 GPA.
In addition to being a full time student at Ramapo, Amanda works full time as a Human Resources Supervisor for Toys R Us.
The junior is from New Milford, NJ.
Ben Reinhardt of Bedminster, NJ is a Literature major with a Creative Writing concentration. He has a 3.9 GPA. He is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa, Sigma Tau Delta, and Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Societies, and made the Dean’s List four consecutive semesters.
Ben has worked as an academic consultant at the Center for Reading and Writing and served as the assistant to the Creative Writing program.
He is currently working on a children’s book and plans to attend graduate school for creative writing.
Roman White of Trenton, NJ is a Communications major with a concentration in Journalism.
He has a 3.7 grade point average. He was awarded with a Media Collision award in the Spring 2015 semester and made the Dean’s List in the Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 semesters.
Roman is the Ramapo News’ copy editor, and involved with WRPR radio station.
Roman has also been involved in off-campus activities and organizations, including the National Association of Black Journalists, and is currently an intern at CBS News in New York.
Dylan Sprayberry of Hackettstown, N.J. is a literature major with a concentration in creative writing. He has a 3.89 grade point average.
At Ramapo, Dylan has been inducted into the Sigma Tau Delta International Literature Honor Society, of which he served on the Chapter Board, and had an original work of fiction accepted to the society’s 2015 Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He frequently participates in the college’s creative writing community and is a supporter of the Ramapo chapter of NJ NORML.
While off campus, Dylan is involved in music performance and writes for an independent music website.
Danielle Corcione of Ocean View, N.J., is a literature major with a concentration in creative writing. She is enrolled in the Honors Program and was inducted into the Sigma Tau Delta Literary Honor Society. Danielle has a 3.73 grade point average.
At Ramapo, Danielle has been active in Residence Life, the Potter Library, the Educational Opportunity Fund, Ramapo College Democrats, Model United Nations and the Ramapo News.
Danielle particularly enjoyed participating in a Study Abroad program in Prague, Czech Republic. Danielle plans to attend graduate school to become a college professor.
Audrey Zabohonski of Caldwell, NJ is a Literature major and a Spanish Language Studies minor. She has completed the requirements of the Business Essentials Certificate Program. She is involved with Ramapo News and the Spanish Club. Audrey was inducted into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Sigma Tau Delta Literature Honor Society. She is a student coordinator in the Civic and Community Engagement Center and holds a job in a retail store off campus. She is proud of being a rookie on the New Jersey Roller DerbyAll-Stars, a women’s flat track roller derby. Audrey has applied for several AmeriCorps NCCC and VISTA positions and is waiting to learn if she’s been accepted to any of them. She envisions working in an administration/ management role with a non-profit agency that assists those who are homeless and without food. Audrey would also like to establish an art therapy program with her best friend. “Who knows where the world will take me?,” she said. “Receiving a scholarship means that the hard work I’ve put in the last four years has really paid off. I hope that somewhere along the way, I’ve been a helpful peer, friend and student to classmates, friends, professors, advisers and mentors,” she added. “Along with my family, Ramapo has been instrumental in steering me where I want to go in the future.” Audrey has a 3.60 grade point average.
“Caitlin Vogel is endlessly curious, hardworking, and a good representative for the literature program, both in the Center for Reading and Writing, and while presenting at conferences,” says a Literature faculty member. She is a senior majoring in Literature with a Psychology minor. Caitlin is enrolled in the Ramapo College Honors Program. She is active in Sigma Tau Delta, National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Golden Key International Honor Society. Caitlin was inducted into Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. She is a consultant for the College’s Center for Reading and Writing. “I am very grateful for receiving a scholarship because it will help alleviate student loan debt and allow me to pursue a graduate degree in English,” says Caitlin. She maintains a 3.95 grade point average and is from Wantage, NJ.
Rosa Gomez of Long Branch, NJ is a Literature major with a Creative Writing Concentration. She enjoys writing stories and poems. Rosa plans to seek employment in the publishing industry in NewYork City. She also plans to continue writing, with the goal of becoming a best-selling author. Rosa, who has a 3.76 grade point average, says of the scholarship, “Receiving this award means the world to me. I am elated that my hard work has been rewarded with the funds to assist me in finishing up my career at Ramapo College.”
Jacqueline Thomas is a junior majoring in Literature. She has earned a 3.90 grade point average. “More than any student I’ve taught, Jacqueline seems attuned to the subtlety and power of the English language,” says one literature professor. “In her research and her writing, she also seems aware of how language connects, separates and constructs us within history and culture.” Jacqueline is from Emerson, NJ.
Miranda Wyatt is a Literature major with a concentration in Creative Writing. The senior is surprised by how quickly college life has passed. “Through hard work, determination and perseverance, I have completed seven-eighths of my college education, all while working two part-time jobs, experiencing two internships and maintaining a consecutive 3.5 GPA,” Miranda says. In addition to work and classes, Miranda is a member of the Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Society, the Rho Alpha Sigma Honor Society, and is active in Suicide Awareness Programs. Miranda is from Mahwah, NJ.
Joseph Lewandowski, who is president of Ramapo’s television station, RCTV, says his involvement there sometimes feels like a full-time job. He enjoys the challenge of building respect for the station and drawing students to return each week. The Communication Arts/ Journalism major is the sports editor of The Ramapo News. The senior has earned a 3.97 grade point average. Joe is also a writing tutor for the Center for Academic Success. He is from Whitehouse Station, NJ and plans on a career as a sports writer or a film critic.
Senior Kaitlin Chieco is majoring in communication arts with a concentration in journalism. “Kaitlin is a very hard working, conscientious student who is a really good journalist,” agree professors Edna Negron and Regina Clark. Kaitlin works in J-Lee’s on campus to help support her education, and is currently an intern at NJN News with Sara Lee Kessler. Kaitlin has earned a 3.47 grade point average. She is from Brick, New Jersey.
I’m honored to have received this scholarship as it truly means a lot to know the communication arts department recognizes my efforts to be a better journalist.
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