Making Dreams Come True

Student speakers John Canela '15 and Monica Khattak '16 described how the generosity of donors has impacted their academic success at NJIT's 27th Annual Scholarship Brunch.

As a young girl, Monica Khattak ’16 was interested in math and science, but it wasn’t until high school that she discovered the STEM fields. She majored in civil/mechanical engineering technologies at The Middlesex Academy and first learned about NJIT from the Engineering Career Day program. Participating in the overnight experience sponsored by the university’s Murray Center for Women in Technology clinched her decision to attend.

For Khattak, a biology major with a minor in business whose “dream job” is to become a surgeon, scholarship support has enabled her to pursue a wide range of extracurricular activities that have helped to enhance her academic studies. In addition to shadowing a vascular surgeon for the past two years and traveling to Ecuador to conduct research under NJIT Biology Professor Eric Fortune, Khattak served as president of her residence hall and as a member of the Pre-Health Society, Biology Society, Engineers Without Borders and the Emergency Medical Services Society.

“Receiving these scholarships has greatly affected my life,” said Khattak, a first-generation college student whose mother arrived in the U.S. from Poland when she was her age. “I am putting myself through school, so having these scholarships is a great financial relief. I can spend my summers working in a lab or volunteering in the hospital without having to worry about next year’s tuition.”

Khattak, who also is an Albert Dorman Honors College scholar, shared her personal journey with scholarship donors and their student recipients on April 24, 2015 at the 27th Scholarship Brunch. The annual event provides an opportunity for donors to meet the students in person for a glimpse into how their generosity impacts their lives. In 2015, private scholarship aid amounted to more than $3 million and helped nearly 1,240 students. 

Also speaking was John Canela ’15, who received a B.S. in information technology on May 19, 2015. Canela, whose parents emigrated from the Dominican Republic in the mid-1980s, credited NJIT’s Educational Opportunity Program for providing the academic and financial support and career and personal counseling he needed as a freshman student. In his remarks, Canela described the “monumental moment” when Carlos Dominguez, then Senior Vice President in the Office of the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Cisco Systems (now retired), was a guest speaker at a Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) general meeting. The connection led to a successful IT analyst internship at the company and, come July, Canela will return to launch his career as an IT engineer in San Jose, California.

“It was because of the scholarships given by those in this room that I am standing here today,” he said.

Guest speaker Charles R. Lipuma ’53 ’56, who retired from ExxonMobil and now serves as the mayor of Kiawah Island, South Carolina, shared his personal motivation for providing an endowed scholarship since 2004. Lipuma, who was raised in the Ironbound section of Newark, recalled his father and paternal grandfather as motivated individuals who taught him to never overlook the value and importance of hard work and education.

“Looking back, I owe any success I’ve achieved and the high quality of education to NJIT,” Lipuma said.

For more information about establishing and supporting scholarships at NJIT, contact: Darlene Lamourt, Director of Donor Engagement at 973-596-3403 or

Guest speaker Charles R. Lipuma ’53 ’56 with Michael Taylor '15, a student who has benefited from his scholarship support.

By Christina Crovetto