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Bergen County students awarded Spirit of a Hero scholarships

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

SHOUT OUTS: Five Bergen County students were among 25 recipients presented with 2015 New Jersey Heroes “Spirit of a Hero” scholarships by New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie during a ceremony at the governor’s residence in Princeton.

The $5,000 scholarships stem from the Heart of a Hero program for military veterans.

“I am continually amazed by the character and commitment demonstrated by our young people in taking on serious issues impacting communities throughout New Jersey,” the governor’s wife said.

“From human trafficking and environmental stewardship to STEM education and programs for individuals with special needs, all of our applicants and awardees are doing outstanding work to give back and help improve the lives of others,” she said.

“With the Spirit of a Hero Scholarship, we are recognizing and honoring these good deeds while helping these young adults to achieve their career goals,” she said.

Since its inception in 2013, New Jersey Heroes has awarded $335,000 in scholarship funding to 67 students from across the state through the Spirit of a Hero program.

This year’s recipients include:

· Brianna F. Hoody, Bergen County Academies – Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, Hackensack (Bergen): After witnessing the terror attacks of 9/11 firsthand, Brianna Hoody and her family relocated to New Jersey and felt compelled to give back. Brianna and her family began taking in children without families and providing them with foster care. She is now an advocate for foster care, giving speeches to help try to recruit other families to give back the way her family has for so many years. Brianna plans to study pre-medicine with a minor in music at Ithaca College this fall.

· Faith Adams, Bergenfield High School, Bergenfield (Bergen): Faith Adams has been an active member of her community for most of her high school career. As a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters, she has mentored young girls in her community, helping them to achieve academic success and overcome bullying. When she is not working with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Faith volunteers her time at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. Faith will be attending Fairleigh Dickinson University majoring in the Quest Teacher Preparation Program-BS in Biology this fall.

· Carolina Andrea Zuluaga, Academy of the Holy Angels, Demarest (Bergen): After discovering the Read to Feed program, Carolina Zuluaga decided to hold various book drives and fundraisers to encourage children to read. Her first fundraiser collected over 1,200 books. Over the past 4 years, she has raised over $5,500 and collected 6,000 books. Carolina’s efforts have helped to establish a community library at the Bergen Family Council Center in Englewood. She has also been volunteering at the Center for Food Action and Union City Music Project every week since 2011. Carolina hopes to continue to serve her community while attending the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania this fall.

· Lindsay Testa, Ridgewood High School, Ridgewood (Bergen): At the age of fourteen, Lindsay and a friend founded the ALIVE Heroes Challenge to help children whose parents had been directly affected by the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. The organization sells bracelets to fundraise for the Bob Woodruff Foundation, whose mission is to provide resources and support to injured service members, veterans, and their families. This also includes children of service members who are deeply affected by war when their parent serves. Lindsay will be attending the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University this fall.

· Maya Sicherer, Fair Lawn High School, Fair Lawn (Bergen): Maya has been volunteering for children and adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities since she was in the sixth grade. After working one-on-one with an autistic boy through the Friendship Circle Program and seeing the impact the social interaction had on him, Maya began a program in her school that allows students to spend their lunch period with students with special needs. She has also been volunteering with Camp Snowflake/Sunshine since 2009, a summer/winter camp for developmentally impaired adults and children. Maya will be attending Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences this fall.

More than 700 students applied for the scholarships this year.

To be considered, candidates must meet “several criteria, including a demonstrated commitment to volunteerism and community contribution; be a New Jersey resident and U.S. Citizen; submission of a high school transcript and a letter of recommendation from a current teacher or advisor; be in good academic standing with their secondary schol and enroll as a student at an accredited college/university or a vocational training school in the 2015-2016 school year,” fall or spring semester.

Other 2015 Spirit of a Hero awardees include:

· Sankalp Aggarwal, Bridgewater Raritan High School, Bridgewater (Somerset)
· Russell Arno Bauer III, Seneca High School, Tabernacle (Burlington)
· Madi Beumee, Morris County School of Technology, Denville (Morris)
· Laura Elizabeth Cavanagh, Immaculata High School, Somerville (Somerset)
· Kaela Lyn Denno, Mount Olive High School, Flanders (Morris)
· Mark Dominguez, Jefferson Township High School, Oak Ridge (Morris)
· Stephanie Harvey, Eastern Regional High School, Voorhees (Camden)
· Gunnar Tyler Henning, Warren Hills Regional High School, Washington (Warren)
· Abhiram Karuppur, The Pingry School, Basking Ridge (Somerset)

· Jon Kubricki, Pinelands Regional High School, Little Egg Harbor (Atlantic)
· Alexander Louie, Hillsborough High School, Hillsborough (Somerset)
· Mackenzie Ann Olson, Clearview Regional High School, Mullica Hill (Gloucester)
· Katie Alexandria Ramirez, Elizabeth High School – Upper Academy, Elizabeth (Union)
· Luisa Rinaudo, Middletown High School, Middletown (Monmouth)
· Elijah Christian Rodriguez, Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft (Monmouth)
· Tomas Roberto Sanchez, Highland Park High School, Highland Park (Middlesex)
· Benjamin Schragger, Hopewell Valley Central High School, Pennington (Mercer)
· Emily Jane Shapiro, James Caldwell High School, West Caldwell (Essex)
· Sarah Wolford, Allentown High School, Allentown (Monmouth)
· Ellen Wu, Freehold High School, Freehold (Monmouth)

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