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Berrie, Russell Nursing Scholarship

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The Russell Berrie Nursing Scholarship was announced at the 2011 Russ Berrie Awards for Making a Difference celebration. The gift to create the scholarship was made in honor of Elaine and Mike Adler, to complement their major gift to Ramapo College to create the Adler Center for Nursing Excellence.

Russell Berrie was an entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded the company which made RUSS plush toys and gifts. In addition to being a successful businessman, Mr. Berrie devoted himself to numerous charitable causes. The Angelica and Russ Berrie Center for Performing and Visual Arts on the Ramapo College campus is named for Mr. Berrie and his wife, Angelica. He founded the Russ Berrie Foundation in 1985 to further support his “values, passions and vision.”

One of the focus areas of the Berrie Foundation is humanism in medicine, and the Berrie Scholarships at Ramapo College advance this goal. The award is administered by the Ramapo College nursing faculty, who use a peer evaluation survey to identify students who demonstrate competence in humanistic care. The award is also designed to recognize students who demonstrate clinical competence, participation in community service, and academic excellence.

  • For senior Nursing students who rank in the top 25% on the Peer Evaluation Survey
  • Those considered must demonstrate clinical competence and participate in community service
  • Recipient chosen by the Nursing Student Affairs Committee

2022 Recipients

Allison Steiginga

Allison Steiginga of North Haledon, N,J. is a Nursing major with a minor in Psychology. She has a 3.9 GPA, is on the Dean’s List, and is part of the Alpha Lambda Delta and Psi Chi honors society. At Ramapo, Allison proudly serves as the lead Anatomy & Physiology tutor and is a member of the Nursing Student Organization. 

After working in long term care for many years, Allison began working in the Intensive Care Unit at Chilton Memorial Hospital in 2020. “As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued, I’ve worked side-by-side with the nurses of the ICU helping patients fight for their lives.”

After graduation, Allison hopes to continue her career in intensive care and eventually become a Nurse Practitioner, in order to assist her patients in healing as best as she can.

Britney Miller

“My motivation to get my degree comes from my inspiration to help others in future,” says Britney Miller. 

Britney is a fourth-year Nursing Major in the EOF program from Cape May, N.J.. She hopes to work in the operating room and eventually become a Nurse Practitioner.

On campus, Britney is involved in Alpha Phi Omega, the Nursing Student Organization, and she is a Ramapo Admission Student Ambassador. She currently works for the Center for Student Involvement.

This past summer, she worked as a Nurse Aid at Cape Regional Hospital in South Jersey. “I learned a lot from that experience and can’t wait to see what my future career holds,” says Britney.

2021 Recipients

Madison Alderton

Madison Alderton of Upper Saddle River, N.J. is a Nursing major with a 3.66 GPA. Committed to her education and the healthcare field, Madison hopes to become a cardiac or critical nurse and eventually become a Nurse Practitioner.

At Ramapo, she proudly serves as the President of the Nursing Student Organization. She is also a member of Tri-Sigma Sorority, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, and the National Society for Collegiate Scholars. 

Apart from volunteering at Valley Hospital, Madison works as a Patient Care Technician at Holy Name Medical Center on the Cardiac and Intermediate Care Unit. During the peak of the pandemic, Madison worked alongside nurses and other health care workers in the COVID-19 ICU and step-down units. 

She is looking forward to expanding her clinical and nursing-based knowledge as a Patient Care Technician in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Hackensack Meridian Health in January 2021.

Colette Pluta-Ehlers

“Working in emergency medicine taught me invaluable skills that I believe are essential to being a good nurse,” says Colette Pluta-Ehlers. The Mountainside, N.J. resident is a senior Nursing major with a 3.6 GPA.

After volunteering as an EMT at sixteen, Colette realized her love of emergency medicine and her dream of becoming a nurse. She currently works at Morristown Medical Center as a Nursing Assistant in the oncology unit. 

After graduation, Colette hopes to continue working at Morristown and eventually become a labor and delivery or postpartum nurse. She also hopes to become a travel nurse and gain more experience while seeing other parts of the world.

2020 Recipients

Morgan Grace London

Morgan Grace London is proud to be in Ramapo’s Nursing Class of 2020.   “After I graduate, I’ll be pursuing my cardiovascular perfusion certification and learning to run the bypass machines throughout various cardiothoracic lifesaving procedures,” says Morgan, a resident of Ringwood, N.J.

Before Ramapo, Morgan began teaching algebra to blind college students, along with volunteering with hospice patients. She discovered her love for anatomy and physiology after living in San Diego and filleting fish for a living. Her passion for nursing blossomed through her curiosity in cardiac science, neuroscience, and the understanding of a nurses importance.

On campus, Morgan started “Bright Side,” Ramapo’s first student-ran organization that helps chronically ill college students cultivate meaningful support systems.

She has a 3.8 GPA and has been on the Dean’s List for three consecutive semesters.

Samantha Pernetti

“I’m proud to be both a first generation military member as well as a first generation college student/soon to be graduate in my family,” says Nursing student Samantha Pernetti. Samantha works with her unit to help support troops that are deployed overseas by creating care packages and sending letters. “I’m grateful to be part of something bigger than myself.”

Samantha has also been involved in community service activities such as serving the homeless at shelters and soup kitchens, as well as volunteering at animal shelters. Samantha currently works at a doctor’s office to get more healthcare experience before she starts her career as a full time nurse. She plans to work in the hospital setting when she graduates and aims to go back to school for her Master’s Degree so that she can pursue her career as a Nurse Practitioner.

She has a 3.8 GPA and has achieved the Dean’s List each of her semesters at Ramapo. Samantha is from Maywood, N.J.

2019 Recipients

Theresa O’Connor

Theresa O’Connor of Sea Girt, N.J. is a senior Nursing major. She has a 3.4 GPA. Theresa has been active in several organizations and activities during her time at Ramapo, which include being the Nursing Student Organization President and a Peer Facilitator. She studied abroad in Ghana, Africa with the Nursing Program to gain clinical exposure and experience a new culture. She is an active member of her local first-aid squad in Manasquan. Upon graduation she hopes to become a geriatric nurse.

Laura Jacobs

“I have envisioned becoming a nurse for as long as I can remember,” says Laura Jacobs of Wantage, N.J. She has a 3.8 GPA, has been on the Dean’s List every semester and is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society.

“I have always had a passion to take care of others; I believe there is no greater achievement than to help someone in their weakest moments. Nothing compares with the feeling of being able to make a patient smile and brighten their day.”

At Ramapo, she has been involved in Theta Phi Alpha and the Nursing Student Organization. She currently works as a medical administrative assistant with Premier Health Associates in Branchville, N.J. She plans on beginning her career by working in an emergency department or a medical-surgical unit with the ultimate goal of becoming a nurse practitioner.

“This scholarship has motivated me to continue working hard in order to attain my dreams of being able to make a difference in people’s lives as a registered nurse.”

2018 Recipients

Lily Scollo

Lily Scollo of Bloomingdale, N.J. is a Nursing major. She has a 3.5 GPA and is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society.

At Ramapo, Lily has worked as an Anatomy & Physiology tutor and lab assistant, a writer for the Odyssey Online Magazine, and serves as the junior and senior year nursing class representative.

She has been working at Hackensack University Medical Center since the end of her freshman year, after spending much of her high school career volunteering at the hospital. In 2015, Lily landed her first job as a clerical associate in HackensackUMC’s Emergency Trauma Department. She has since worked as a unit service representative in the Urology/Kidney Transplant unit, a Student Nurse Extern in the Medical ICU, and, now, a certified nursing assistant.

Lily has earned certifications in EPIC Electronic Medical Record, American Heart Association CPR, Patient Sitting, CPI Nonviolent Crisis Intervention, OSHA Emergency Preparedness and Response, PeopleSoft Online Ordering, SBIRT Substance Abuse Intervention, and NDNQI Pressure Ulcer. After graduation, she plans to complete a nurse residency program at HackensackUMC and apply to work as an RN in the Medical ICU.

“I’m humbled by the generous scholarship award and thankful for the Berrie Foundation’s commitment to higher education, and their compassion for future nurses.”

Kathryn Ajami

“Apart from learning the basic skills necessary to be an RN, such as medication administration, wound care, focused assessments, and clinical judgement, I have also grown to understand what it means to be a compassionate, empathetic nurse,” says Kathryn Ajami of North Haledon, N.J.

Kathryn works at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center as a Patient Care Assistant and volunteers with the Pathfinder’s Youth Group in Wayne, N.J.

She has a 3.96 GPA and is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society.

2017 Recipients

Katerina Korunovski

“My future looks like this: give every single patient my undivided attention and smile as often as possible,” says nursing major Katerina Korunovski. This mantra has fueled Katarina’s commitment to her education as well as her work outside of Ramapo.

On campus, Katerina has been active in the Nursing Student Organization and Commuter Affairs. She has also been inducted into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

In addition to her volunteer work at the Garfield YMCA and Rochelle Park Medical Center, she recently started working as a nursing assistant at Valley Hospital.

She is most proud of her completion of the Student Nurse Externship Program this summer at Hackensack University Medical Center. She hopes to work there as a critical care nurse after graduation.  “My hope is to bring change to the healthcare system by redirecting focus back to bedside and patient care,” she says.

Katerina, from Garfield, NJ, has a 3.68 GPA.

Katherine Kowalchuk

“I am overjoyed to have been accepted into such a competitive program as the Nursing program at Ramapo, and I hope to pass the NCLEX and pursue a career as an Emergency Department or Trauma Nurse,” said Katherine Kowalchuk, of Ridgefield Park, NJ.  A recipient of the Ramapo College Provost Scholarship, Katherine is a member of Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, and has a 3.5 GPA.

She works on campus as a clerk for Roadrunner Central at the Center for Student Involvement, and also holds the treasurer position for the Technology and Animation Studies Club.  Katherine also helps gather book donations for Ramapo Readers, a book drive that provides thousands of books to Paterson schools.  Off campus, she works at the Valley Hospital as a Patient Care Assistant.


2016 Recipients

Megan Chan

Megan Chan of Somerset, New Jersey is a senior Nursing major. She has a 3.2 grade point average. Megan has been on the Dean’s List and has also been inducted into Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, the National Society for Collegiate Scholars, and Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Society.

At Ramapo, Megan has been active in several organizations and activities. She has been an academic peer coach for students with disabilities, a participant and interviewer for Alternative Spring Break trips, and has served yearly as a member of the Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month committee.

Megan has also been involved in off-campus activities and organizations, including as the secretary for the non-profit organization Young Vision Africa and as a nursing assistant at St. Peter’s University Hospital.

Christina Pascarelli

Christina Pascarelli is a senior from Mahwah, NJ majoring in Nursing.

2015 Recipient

Megan Minneci

Megan Minneci of Roxbury, N.J., is a nursing major. She has been inducted into the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, National Society for Collegiate Scholars, SGI/NFHCA Division III National Academic Squad and the Chi Alpha Sigma Student Athlete Honor Society. Megan has a 3.83 grade point average.

At Ramapo, Megan is proud to have been presented with the NFHCA Division III Scholars of Distinction Award. She is a member of the College’s field hockey team and has been a captain for two years. She has participated in Relay for Life each year at Ramapo. Off campus, Megan is a nursing assistant at Morristown Medical Center.

Megan plans to pursue a master’s degree and to work as a medical-surgical nurse.

2014 Recipient

Erika Henry

Erika Henry of Pompton Plains, NJ is a Nursing major. “ As a senior Nursing student who will be graduating in May, receiving an award such as this motivates me to continue pursuing my dreams to be a great nurse,” she said. Erika has served as vice president of programming, community service chair and fund raising chair of Sigma Delta Tau. She was inducted into the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society. Erika is an emergency room technician at a hospital. She would like to become an emergency room nurse and work with a travelling nursing program. She also plans to pursue a master’s degree in Nursing. “Through nursing, I am able to listen to my patient’s concerns and to empathize with the situation that they are personally dealing with,” she said. I want to be able to look back on my career as a nurse and know that I had a positive impact on the patients and the families that I cared for.” Erika has a 3.81 grade point average.

Nursing has been my passion for as long as I can remember. I love caring for those in need and seeing people transition from sickness to health. This scholarship motivates me to continue pursuing my dreams to become the best Nurse I can be.

2013 Recipient

Erin Brady

“Erin Brady provides a special caring connection with her patients, and helps them smile through their struggles,” says Monica Chomsky, a clinical instructor at The Valley Hospital. Erin is a senior in the undergraduate Nursing program and is from Northfield, NJ. She is employed at Shore Medical Center in Somers Point, NJ as an emergency room technician. She is a member of the Ramapo College Nursing Student Organization and Catholic Campus Ministry. A former member of the College’s softball team, Erin is a student worker in the Athletic Training Room. She enjoys sports, music and the beach. “Not only is this award a great honor,” says Erin, “but it is also an incentive to continue my hard work as a Nursing student. This scholarship will help me further my education in the nursing field. I am grateful for this program and everyone in it.” Erin has a 3.44 grade point average.

The scholarship I have received will inspire and help me to continue my Nursing education.

2012 Recipient

JaimeJo Muscianesi

Junior JaimeJo Muscianesi is from Manalapan, NJ. She is majoring in Nursing and has earned a 3.97 grade point average. She is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, as well as the Nursing Student Organization, Spanish Club, and Relay for Life. JaimeJo participates in the intramural kickboxing and soccer teams on campus.

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