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The Spirit of Generosity

Scholarship Brunch student speakers David "Nic" Thibodeaux '14 and Vanessa Espinal '14 with NJIT President Joel S. Bloom.

Growing up as the child of working-class Mexican immigrants, Vanessa Espinal ’14 knew that education would be her gateway to success. At NJIT, Espinal was enrolled in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and pursued a double major in History and Law, Technology and Culture.  One of her most memorable experiences at NJIT included her internship at the New Jersey Law Review Commission and in the Superior Court of New Jersey under Passaic County Superior Court Judge and NJIT alumnus Sohail Mohammed ‘88.

“With your help I can proudly say that I have become a successful first-generation college student and that I am able to see myself working for a federal law enforcement agency sometime within the next 10 years,” said Espinal, who will graduate with dual degrees in May 2014. “Words will never be enough to demonstrate the gratitude and appreciation I feel for each and every one of you.”

Espinal was one of two student speakers who addressed scholarship donors and many other students who benefit from their generosity at the 26th annual Scholarship Brunch. 

Also speaking at the event was David “Nic” Thibodeaux (Honors) ’14, a senior biomedical engineering major and Albert Dorman Honors College Scholar. Thibodeaux, who worked in NJIT’s Vision and Neural Engineering Laboratory (VNEL) directed by Biomedical Engineering Professor Tara Alvarez, said that the opportunity to do independent research as an undergraduate was a key part of his success as a student.  He will begin his doctoral studies at Columbia University this fall.

“Although I know that the road to the PhD is long and difficult, I am confident that my education at NJIT has well prepared me for such a challenge,” Thibodeaux said. “None of these opportunities and experiences would have been possible without the financial support of the Pappas, PSE&G Endowed, and the David Garfield scholarships, which were made possible through the Albert Dorman Honors College.”

In 2014, private scholarship aid amounted to more than $2.8 million and helped nearly 1,200 students.  Although many students arrive at NJIT with unique backgrounds, they all share the dream of gaining the skills and knowledge needed to help them succeed.

Guest speaker Theodore D. Cassera, a member of the NCE Board of Visitors and Chairman of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department’s Industrial Advisory Board, praised donors’ “spirit of generosity” as well as the “empowering, deeply appreciated, and life-changing” effects of scholarships.  Cassera, who received his B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1972, had a long career at Schoor DePalma before retiring from the company in 2008.  He is currently employed by Omland Engineering Associates in Cedar Knolls, New Jersey, where he handles the management of engineering projects for his long-time clients.

“It is a pleasure for me to hear about students and their donors,” Cassera said. “This is my best-loved event at NJIT.” 

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

By Christina Crovetto