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Rubel, Willie and Hertha Memorial Scholarship

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Jason Simon ’93 and his wife Rachel established this scholarship in memory of Jason’s grandparents. Willie Rubel understood the challenges of adjusting to a new environment, as he was an immigrant to the United States during WWII and narrowly escaped persecution in his native Germany. Willie worked tirelessly for his family and served as a constant source of encouragement for Jason throughout his time at Ramapo. Jason wrote, “He will always be remembered for his quiet demeanor, care for his family and the way he overcame so many obstacles to create a better life for those around him. He would be exceptionally touched to see a scholarship in his name.” Hertha “Pat” Rubel, like her husband, fled Germany at the age of 10 with only the clothes on her back. She worked her entire life as a hairdresser. “She was always concerned about the success of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” Jason adds, “and she truly believed in me and my success at Ramapo and beyond.

  • For a first generation student who is a campus leader
  • 3.00 GPA or higher
  • Applicants must submit two-page essay describing their campus involvement, leadership and adjustment to Ramapo College as a first-generation college student
  • International students are not eligible

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2020 Recipient

Mariella Zijdel

“I’m passionate about advocating for diversity and LGBTQ+ issues,” says Mariella Zijdel of Gillette, N.J. Mariella is a Social Work major with minors in Women’s and Gender Studies, and Substance Use Disorders. She has a 3.3 GPA.

Mariella has been involved in Leaders in Service, Sophomores Advancing in Leadership, and has been a Resident Assistant at the College Park Apartments for two years. She currently serves as the Student Trustee and is the Student Health and Wellness Coordinator at the Women’s Center and LGBTQ+ Services.

Off campus, Mariella has been involved in the Safe and Inclusive Learning Environment Working Group for N.J.’s Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, is currently on the Student Advisory Committee for N.J.’s Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, is an intern for N.J. Senator Nellie Pou, and is a volunteer and foster for St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center.

After graduation, Mariella plans to attend graduate school for Social Work with a concentration in Policy Advocacy. “I am proud to be a part of many important organizations on campus and plan to use my experiences to induct change in the world,” she adds.

2019 Recipients

Jessica Ryan

Jessica Ryan of Bloomfield, N.J. is a Literature major with a concentration in K-12 Education. She is a member of the Ramapo College Honors Program with a GPA of 3.6 that has earned her Dean’s List status every semester.

At Ramapo, Jessica currently serves as a Senator-at-Large in the Student Government Association. She is
a published author with work featured in Tarot, a crowdfunded anthology for global distribution. She also has over one dozen articles published in the Ramapo News.

Jessica is a Catechist in the Archdiocese of Newark and a Lifetime Member of Girl Scouts. She currently teaches Children’s Liturgy at her parish and serves as a substitute on the Girl Scouts Heart of NJ Gold Award Advisory Committee. She also volunteers for the USO at Newark International Airport.

Sabrina Santamaria

Sabrina Santamaria is a senior Political Science major with minors in Public Policy and Women’s & Gender Studies. She has a 3.9 GPA and has continuously received recognition by the Dean’s List for her academic achievements. She is also a member of several Honor Societies, such as Alpha Lambda Delta, The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and Golden Key International Honour Society (Vice President). In addition, Sabrina serves as the President of Pi Sigma Alpha: Political Science Honor Society.

Sabrina has been active in several organizations on campus, including the HGS Dean’s Advisory Council, Phi Alpha Delta: Pre-Law Fraternity, the Ramapo Journal of Law & Society (Volunteer Editor), and the Student Government Association (Senator of the HGS). This year, Sabrina is excited to be serving as the Student Government Association’s Vice President.

Sabrina recently had an internship for a Congressional Campaign where she assisted a candidate’s team in the election process. Additionally, last summer, she interned for the Honorable Judge Linda Lordi Cavanaugh in the Superior Court of Essex County. This year, she will be in the process of applying to law schools.

2018 Recipient

Karen Aguirre

I’m passionate about improving the accessibility of higher education and the equality of the public education system,” says Karen Aguirre of West New York, N.J. Karen is a Contemporary Arts major with a concentration in Photography and Humanities and Justice. She has a 3.2 GPA and is a member of the Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Society.

At Ramapo, she has been active in the Student Government Association (SGA), Leaders in Service, and has been a Resident Hall Assistant for Linden Hall. She is also an EOF Peer Mentor on campus, and serves as Student Trustee. She serves on the Student Advisory Council of the New Jersey Higher Education Assistance Authority.

After graduation, Karen plans to join the Peace Corps or attend graduate school. Her future goals are to work for the United Nations under UNICEF or for the Department of Education.


2017 Recipient

Heidi Pilla

“I hope to make an impact on children’s lives by teaching elementary school and getting my Master’s in special education,” said Heidi Pilla of South Plainfield, NJ.  The Literature major has a 3.7 GPA and remains on the Dean’s List.

Heidi is part of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), where she serves as vice president, Sigma Tau Delta, the Ramapo Leadership Institute and Relay for Life.

Off campus, Heidi has volunteered as a tutor for Teaneck’s Math Adventures and Word Play and the South Plainfield Special Olympics. “I’m proud to consistently be a member of the Dean’s list, in addition to playing on the Ramapo Women’s lacrosse team and being involved on campus,” she added.

2016 Recipient

Dayra Cerda

Dayra Cerda of Passaic, NJ is a Business Administration major, concentrating in Marketing with a minor in International Business. She has a 3.2 GPA.  Dayra was inducted into the Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Society.

At Ramapo, Dayra is a Resident Assistant, Peer Facilitator and the secretary of the Association of Latinos Moving Ahead.

Dayra is proud to be the first person in her family to pursue a bachelor’s degree and hopes to earn her masters in Higher Education.

2015 Recipient

Tabitha McGuire

2014 Recipient

Kelsey Kozak

Kelsey Kozak of Rutherford, NJ is a Social Science major with a concentration in Mental Health. She describes her immigrant father who died in 2008 as “an inspiration, a role model, a best friend, and most importantly, my one and only irreplaceable dad.” Kelsey wondered if she would be able to attend college because her family lived a sparse life. At Ramapo College, she decided to seek out every opportunity to make her life better. Kelsey is proud that she will be the first member of her family to graduate from college. “My past endeavors have inspired me to go into the helping and educational counseling profession,” she said. “Higher Education Administration is a field that I am determined to pursue in graduate school.” Kelsey has a 3.31 grade point average.

2013 Recipient

Runa Khanom

Runa Khanom is a senior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Gerontology, and she has earned a 3.58 grade point average. Runa is a member of the Muslim Student Association, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and Chi Alpha Epsilon honor society. She works on campus as a peer facilitator, in The Lodge fitness center, and as a research assistant. “One of my rewarding moments was having an opportunity to study abroad in Sierra Leone, Africa,” Runa says. “This experience helped me understand different lifestyles people live from the beliefs they follow to the food they consume.” Runa is from Paterson, NJ.

This scholarship has provided me with the opportunity to continue my last semester at Ramapo. I am really appreciative.

2012 Recipient

Clifton Shambry

Clifton Shambry is a senior majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Management. He has earned a 3.29 grade point average. Cliff studied abroad in China last year. On campus, Cliff is a member of the Student Government Association, serving as a Senator-At-Large. He served on the organizing committee for Celebration at Sunset last year, and was one of 20 students who volunteered to help with clean up efforts in Mahwah after Hurricane Irene. In 2010 he received the Omicron Delta Kappa New Student Service Award. Cliff is from Millville, NJ.

2011 Recipient

Allyson Armstrong

Allyson Armstrong graduated from high school in San Diego, CA and now lives in Glen Rock, NJ. The Business Administration major is a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority and enjoys the charitable work the group undertakes. Allyson is the vice president of scholarship for the College Pan Hellenic E- Board and a peer facilitator for First-Year Experience. She is particularly proud of serving as a student representative on the Alcohol and Other Drugs Committee that meets with local business owners and the Mahwah police department. Allyson has held various positions in the College’s Office of Residence Life, which she credits for allowing for professional and personal growth. During the summer, Allyson served as a Summer Conference Manager, working with outside groups renting campus facilities. Allyson, who has a 3.07 grade point average, plans to attend graduate school.

This scholarship will help me fund all my graduate school applications to help further educate me beyond Ramapo College.

2010 Recipient

Casey Castronova

Casey Castronova is from Freehold, NJ and graduated in May with a degree in Social Work and a 3.82 cumulative grade point average. She was a member of the Social Work Club and Operation Smile and was a Ramapo student ambassador. Casey interned at The Center for Alcohol & Drug Resources, Verona High School and the Liberty Partnership Program. She attends Monmouth University as an advanced standing Social Work student and is working in a substance abuse treatment facility. “Casey is presently working towards becoming a Licensed Social Worker and a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor,” says Professor Mitch Kahn.

2009 Recipient

Brandon Martin

Brandon Martin of Dayton, NJ is a Law & Society major. He plans to attend law school and to become a sports or entertainment agent or a practicing attorney. The foundation for this goal was set in high school where Brandon was cofounder, captain and lead defense attorney for the MockTrial Club. He also played varsity baseball and was a member of the Honor Concert. He continues to play baseball, and earned a spot on the Road Runners team as a walk-on. He works as a student aide in the Office of Admissions, is a student ambassador and a member of the Student Government Association. He also finds time to volunteer for student activities and intramural sports. Brandon, who has a 3.82 grade point average says, “I am making the most of what Ramapo has to offer.”

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