The Montclair Scholarship Fund awards scholarships to eligible Montclair High School seniors each year.


The COVID-19 outbreak threw a wrench into many aspects of school life, including getting scholarship money awarded to students.

But the Montclair Scholarship Fund was able to award $201,000 to 45 graduating high school seniors this year. The scholarship fund’s review committee received 116 applications from Montclair High School students. Of that number, 88 students were considered.

In years past, the scholarship fund saw an average of 60 to 80 students apply, said Leeta Jordan, a member of the review committee.

The astronomical costs of college are a factor in the increasing number of students applying, she said. This year’s number of applicants, 116, compares to 90 in 2018-2019 and 120 in 2017-2018.

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“Some of these kids really overcome great obstacles just to graduate from high school,” Jordan said. Some may have to care for a younger sibling, or hold a job to support their family, she added.

Eight of the scholarship winners are the first of their family to go to college.

Twenty-two are going to New Jersey public colleges, including 10 to Rutgers and six to Montclair State University.

A virtual ceremony for the students was held on June 12.

“It was a lot more challenging and actually kind of sad for us, because this is the first year we weren’t able to interview the students,” said Jordan.

Melissa Bigelow, a secretary for the fund’s board of trustees, added: “In a usual year, [the committee gets] to meet the students, which is really meaningful to them, and, hopefully, really meaningful to the students.”

In a typical year, the committee would meet in person with students at the high school during the first week of May, so that the scholarships could be awarded close to graduation.

The committee had first discussed setting up Zoom interviews with the students, but there was concern over all of the participants having access to computers and the internet. The committee decided to review the hard-copy applications, and choose the qualifying students from that, said Bigelow.

Typically the students bring their financial aid paperwork with them to the interview. But this year the fund had to set up an online portal.

The fund was also unable to hold one of its major fundraisers. “We were actually really nervous because our funds were down,” Jordan said. But the fund’s organizers sent out a fundraising video, featuring past scholarship recipients, to potential donors. Between the video and other outreach to some of the major donors, the fund was able to raise close to what it would have brought in during a typical year.

  • Zakai Afolabi-Mack, Montclair State University
  • Isis Arevalo, Princeton University
  • Maya Aristumuno, New York University
  • Marco Arnez, Pennsylvania State University
  • Dwayne Brooks, Kean University
  • Elizabeth Carhart, Rutgers University
  • Maximo Cespedes, Temple University
  • Liyan Chung, New York University
  • Natalia Cruz, Pace University 
  • Naa-yu Duncan, Pratt Institute
  • Jada Elliott, New Jersey City University 
  • Michael Justin Ellis, Rutgers University
  • Noah Farjani, The New School 
  • Mariamagdalena Faulkner, Rutgers University
  • Juliana Fawcett, Kean University
  • Erica Field, St. Lawrence University
  • Angel Gaines, Rutgers University
  • Judit Garcia, Montclair State University
  • Shayla George, Howard University
  • Adrian James, University of Tampa
  • Danielle Johnson, Montclair State University
  • Loren Johnson, Rutgers University
  • Simran Kahlon, New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Rahzier Kelly, Louisiana State University
  • Ali Khawaja, Rutgers University
  • Ali Lin, Rensselaer Polytechnic University 
  • Alizaya Londono, Rutgers University
  • Kyle Martin, Michigan State University
  • Janyia Mcgainey Rogers, Rutgers University
  • Nguenar Ndiaye, Rutgers University
  • Arden Phillips, Berklee College of Music
  • Greta Poglinco, Connecticut College
  • Christy Rolling, Montclair State University
  • Carlos Salem-Rosario, Eastern University
  • Zachary Sanders, Montclair State University
  • Lola Scarpone, Macalester College
  • Stella Schaefer-Surdez, University of Vermont
  • Davida Task, Rutgers University 
  • Shane Taylor, North Carolina Central University
  • Trinity Thompson, Kean University
  • Aamnah Ullah, Montclair State University 
  • Nicholas Urquijo, Pennsylvania State University
  • Brian White, St. Bonaventure University
  • Erick Wilson, Stockton University
  • Lucy Ziesing, Syracuse University