students awarded in the scholarship ceremony 2020

Berkeley College Foundation awards scholarships and honors outstanding alumnus during virtual celebration

November 4, 2020

The Berkeley College Foundation honored nine scholarship recipients and an outstanding alumnus during its annual Scholarship Recognition Dinner, held virtually on October 29, 2020. 

Dipexa Gandhi, Executive Director, opened the program by highlighting the many ways the Foundation helps students overcome challenges during their college careers, including through scholarships; by providing a food pantry at the Newark campus; and by subsidizing the cost of transportation with MTA MetroCards in New York City. 

“I want students to look back at their college time and find themselves growing into the professionals they’ve always dreamed of becoming,” Gandhi said. “Our students are supported in unique and significant ways. I hope we can continue making these challenges less of an obstacle.” 

“In these trying times, it will be interesting to see how this Foundation will grow and adapt as we continue to support the students at Berkeley College,” added John Phillips, Chair, Board of Directors. “It is an honor to provide these students with scholarships to help them in their academic progress and growth.” 

Scholarship recipients included:

  • Mobolaji Adigun-Koonce of Irvington, NJ
  • Tasleemah Al-Qadir of Newark, NJ
  • Nayeli Carreto of Union City, NJ
  • Stephanie Ferron-Riley of East Orange, NJ
  • Perla Guzman of Paterson, NJ
  • Jocsan Roca of Somerset, NJ
  • Christopher Veerapen of Brooklyn, NY
  • Darren Washington of Newark, NJ
  • Joyce Williams of Bloomfield, NJ 

Michael J. Smith, President of Berkeley College, thanked the Foundation for removing barriers that could prevent students from reaching the graduation stage. He noted that one in three college students in the United States is living below or near the poverty line. 

“By providing scholarships, the Berkeley College Foundation is removing those hurdles, and making college attainment achievable,” Smith said. 

In her scholarship essay, Nayeli Carreto of Union City, NJ, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Administration – Management at Berkeley College, said the support of the Foundation will help her reach her educational and career goals. “As I approach a new chapter in my life, I already have a clear picture of where I will be in the next 10 years, and how successful I will be,” she wrote.

The Foundation also honored Jason Cutinella, Founder and CEO of Nella Media Group (now NMG Network) with the Distinguished Alumni Award. Cutinella graduated from Berkeley College in 2000 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing. He now lives in Hawaii, where he leads several entrepreneurship initiatives and gives back to the community through work with the American Advertising Federation, the Honolulu International Film Festival and the American Heart Association. 

Cutinella spoke about the ways Berkeley College encouraged his curiosity, and he encouraged attendees to remember their roots. “You see a lot of successful people in the world, but I think they forget where they began. Ego gets in the way, fame gets in the way, money gets in the way. Never forget the beginning – how you started your life and your work.”