For the fifth year in a row, employees of Educational Testing Service (ETS) are recognizing accomplished New Jersey students with educational scholarships. During a July 2015 ceremony, 14 aspiring students were awarded a total of nearly $70,000. The scholarship recipients were chosen from nine New Jersey counties, and included four students from Mercer County.
The recipients, who have faced significant obstacles throughout their lives, overcame their hardships to achieve significant academic success. Many come from low-income or single-parent households; others have experienced serious illness and homelessness. Rather than allowing these obstacles to define their academic and career goals, these students continue to advance themselves toward bright futures.
“What comes from struggle is completely up to the individual,” said Anastasia Mancini, a scholarship recipient who intends to major in biology at Ocean County College. “There are two options: you may let it engulf the entirety of your existence and allow it to become a permanent fixture in your life, or you can utilize the struggle to contribute to the betterment of your understanding and value of life. I chose the second option.”
The scholarships — provided through donations from the ETS staff and distributed as part of the ETS Employees’ Community Action Fund (ECAF) — allow students such as Mancini to more easily finance their college educations.
Many of these students represent the first generation in their families to go to college. The recipients intend to major in a variety of subjects, including accounting, mechanical engineering, biology, biochemistry, international relations and more. Harvard University, Lehigh University and New York University are just a few of the prestigious colleges these students plan to attend.
“Since I’m going to a college in a city, it will be fun to … find new places, meet new people and learn stuff I haven’t learned yet,” said Kristi Truong, a recipient who plans on majoring in biology and attending Temple University.
Trent Gray, who intends to major in mechanical engineering at Lehigh University, is excited to see what the future holds. “A college degree will impact my life by helping me find out … what I want to become, how I want to help people and just really find out who I am,” said Gray. “It will be a huge pathway to figuring out the rest of my life and paving the way to my future.”
Janice Gray, Trent’s mother, thanked the ETS employees who made the scholarship possible. “We are so grateful for the generosity, and it really touched us in such a deep way. It is truly a blessing to us. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed.”
At the end of the event, ETS’s President and CEO Walt MacDonald commemorated the students with an engraved plaque and offered advice to help guide the students on their future paths to success.
“Work hard, have fun, be good and, most importantly, do good,” said MacDonald.
ETS’s Manager of Community Relations Rita Nini spoke on behalf of all ETS employees, expressing her hopes for the scholarship recipients. “My hopes for each of the scholarship recipients is that they continue to achieve academic success and that one day they enter a career in which they are highly successful and happy.”
Lenora Green, Senior Director for ETS’s Center for Advocacy and Philanthropy, believes ETS will continue to fund the scholarships in the future. She said, “Each year, the ECAF committee decides where it wants to direct its contributions and the scholarships have always risen to the top.”
Green also spoke about the importance of corporate social responsibility. “People want to work for an organization that cares about the community,” said Green. “If you know that you work for an organization that has a strong corporate social responsibility platform, you feel good.”
The ECAF is a way for ETS employees to pool their resources to fund a project in collaboration with a nonprofit organization. Including this year’s scholarships, ETS has awarded more than 150 New Jersey students a total of nearly $600,000 since the program began. Donations to the ECAF are an option available to staff during the annual ETS Cares employee giving campaign in October.
To learn more about the scholarship and its recipients, visit http://news.ets.org/news/14-n.j.-students-awarded-70000-in-college-scholarships-by-ets.