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NJIT Hosted the Largest Celebration Fundraiser Ever: Endowing Scholarships for Hard-Working Students

From left to right: Anthony J. Sartor, Anita M. Rubino, Paula McCarter, and Nicholas J. Masucci

Many are the first in their families to attend college.  They come here to study hard, to get great educations and to succeed in their careers.  They are NJIT students.

Many work one or two part-time jobs while taking full course loads.  They don’t want their parents to pay for their educations.  They want to pay for it themselves.  In fact, in an interesting reversal, many students here help their parents financially, not vice versa.  Yet many still manage to maintain top grade-point averages in demanding academic majors.  

It’s not uncommon for an NJIT student to say that it’s her goal in life is to buy her mother a house. In fact, that’s precisely what freshman Deliris Diaz said earlier this year when asked why she studied so hard.  And it’s not uncommon for an NJIT student to say his goal is to get a good job so he can help his aging parents financially.  In fact, that’s just what NJIT student Walter Vittitoe said two years ago as graduation approached and he began looking for a job.     

Who wouldn't support students like this -- students who are self-reliant, mature and self-sacrificing. And NJIT does everything in its power to support these students.  For instance, since 1995 the university has hosted an annual fund-raising dinner called Celebration.  All of the money raised during Celebration -- more than $4.6 million --- has endowed the university’s scholarship fund. Over the years, thanks to the generous donors at Celebration, thousands of NJIT students have won scholarships – awards that allow them to work less and study more and to focus on developing their hearts and minds. 

In the words of President Joel Bloom, NJIT has one overriding goal:  “To provide transformative educational opportunities to our students and to prepare them to become leaders in their fields and in their communities.  That focus on student development and success is the foundation for all we do as a university.”

During this year's Celebration dinner, which took place Nov. 8 at The Pleasantdale Chateau, three individuals and one company were honored.  Anthony J. Sartor, PhD, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Paulus, Sokolowski & Sartor, LLC (PS&S), received the President’s Medal for Lifetime Achievement.  NJIT alumna Anita M. Rubino, received the NJIT Edward F. Weston Medal for Professional Achievement, which is presented to alumni in recognition of outstanding personal, professional, and civic achievement and commitment to NJIT.  Rubino is the owner of the EVOS Carrollwood Restaurant in Carrollwood, Florida.  Steven Plate, Deputy Chief of Capital Planning and Director of World Trade Center Construction, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, was recognized as a Special Friend of the University.  And Berger Group Holdings, Inc., a billion-dollar, top 20 Engineering News-Record global engineering consultancy, was named Outstanding Corporate Partner of the Year.  With offices in more than 40 U.S. cities and 50-plus countries, Berger Group has supported NJIT for many years.  Entertainment was provided by the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Roberta Flack.

Each year, NJIT also selects a student to speak at Celebration.  At this year’s dinner, Paula McCarter spoke to a sold-out crowd of more than 300 university supporters – the largest ever.  McCarter, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering, exemplifies the kind of student that NJIT attracts.  Bright, hard-working and humble, she’s laying the groundwork for a brilliant career as a mechanical engineer.  She comes from a working-class family and has five NJIT scholarships. Those scholarships not only removed a financial burden on her and her parents but have allowed her to flourish in myriad ways.  Here is an excerpt from Paula’s Celebration speech – words that illustrate what NJIT is all about -- the growth and success of its students. 

“Hello everyone.  My name is Paula McCarter. I have been interested in STEM since I was in elementary school.  In middle and high school I found that I wanted to do engineering, specifically mechanical engineering.  I knew that I wanted to come to NJIT because it is a small affordable technology school, the top in the nation for return on investment.  In my time at NJIT, I have been involved with the Nucleus Yearbook and Society of Women Engineers committees, joined Sigma Psi Kappa sorority, been a Resident Assistant in Laurel Hall, participated in the invaluable Interdisciplinary Design Studio Program, worked in the Office of the President, and taken a few classes…

One of the important things that has allowed for my success is the freedom that I have had. Since I do not have to worry about how to pay for my education, I have been able to do exactly what I thought was the best for me.  I have chosen the jobs, internships, and opportunities that would benefit me the most.

NJIT has taken me higher than I ever would have expected.  A clear example of this is the fact that I participated in a 10-week internship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center this summer. I worked on methods for determining the thermal conductivity of materials.  Previously the Materials Engineering Branch at Goddard had no way to determine the thermal conductivity of a material, and now they are able to find this value with only 2% error.  My NJIT education was crucial for the success of this internship.  The training process was very simple because a lot of the equations and basic laboratory practices had been covered in my classes.  I only needed to be trained on the details specific to my project.

It is obvious that there is so much potential at NJIT -- in the college and in the students.  My moment of realization was actually at Dr. Bloom’s Inauguration.  Students were not required to attend; however, many did.  When I stood in the crowd, I looked around me I was inspired by the many talented students by my side.  I could see the Student Senate President, the student creator of the New Earth Archives; Sorority and Fraternity Presidents; the student who founded the TEDxNJIT as well as the many NJIT students who, as part of a special design program (IDS), have applied for patents and started their own companies.

I was fortunate to receive financial aid, which is helping to fund my education, but it is more than that.  Because of this gift, I have been able to take full advantage of my time at NJIT.  I have been allowed to focus on my education, service, leadership and overall NJIT experience. With all of the experiences that I have had thus far, I am looking to continue my success in the future.  I would like to hold a leadership position in a company, while still working with engineering.  I plan to stay on the cutting edge of technology, and hope to invent something that will make an impact on the world.”

By Robert Florida