Department of Human Services

NJ Human Services Announces College Scholarships for Four Blind & Visually Impaired Students

Students from Jersey City, Kenilworth, and Whippany Recognized for Achievements

July, 2nd 2021

(TRENTON) – Highlighting the achievements of people who are blind and visually impaired, the New Jersey Department of Human Services’ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI) has announced college scholarships for four students during an event hosted in partnership with the Trenton Thunder minor league baseball organization.

The four students were awarded scholarships and the virtual ceremony was held in partnership with the Trenton Thunder to highlight blind, deaf-blind and visually impaired awareness.

 

“Being blind, deaf-blind or visually impaired should never hold an individual back from accomplishing their dreams – and these students are examples of that for all New Jersey,” Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman said. “We are so proud of their achievements and look forward to this next generation helping create an even better New Jersey in the years ahead.”

“It’s exciting to honor these students and celebrate them and their accomplishments,” Human Services Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira said. “I look forward to their continued success, and seeing how they use their tremendous talents to help shape a more inclusive and diverse New Jersey.”

“These students have a bright future ahead of them and are destined for great accomplishments,” CBVI Executive Director Dr. Bernice Davis said. “I’m thrilled to announce these scholarships and look forward to their continued success.”

This year’s awardees are:

  • Yolanda Keahey of Jersey City, received a B.S. in Economics and a Master of Business Administration from St. Peter’s College and earned a Master in Library and Information Science from Pratt Institute with an advanced certificate in archives. Recently, she was accepted to a doctoral program in Library and Information Science at Simmons University in the fall. Yolanda is currently employed as a librarian at the Jersey City Free Public Library. Passionate about helping people, she has volunteered her time in numerous organizations in Jersey City throughout the years. Her fondest memories are being a Girl Scout leader, working with the Jersey City Public Library Literacy Program and designing costumes for community theater groups. Passionate about fashion, Yolanda earned a certificate in Garment Construction and Fashion Design. Additionally, she also loves history books and discovering new information. Yolanda is being awarded The 2021 Caroline Rose Foster Scholarship for Independence and Self-Determination. Upon her death, Caroline Rose Foster stipulated that a sizable monetary gift be given to NJCBVI requiring that the principle be invested thereby establishing a perpetual fund for the provision of assistance to New Jersey residents who are blind or visually impaired. The Caroline Rose Foster Scholarship is awarded through the generosity of the CBVI Board of Trustees and was established to encourage and support the career goals of students who have demonstrated an exceptional level of determination to achieve their academic and life goals.
  • Thomas Moussa of Jersey City, is currently studying Psychology at Rutgers University — Newark with the overarching goal of entering graduate school to receive his doctoral degree in clinical psychology. He decided on this career path after witnessing the stigmatization of mental health in his community that prevented an excessive amount of individuals from receiving proper care they so desperately needed. Through the chosen career path of becoming a clinical psychologist, he wishes to be an advocate and provider for mental health services in disadvantaged areas.  Born with high myopia, Thomas received the diagnosis of having a retinal detachment at the age of 8. This led to a strenuous journey of multiple surgeries, eye difficulties and recoveries. Despite this, he was still able to develop many creative childhood passions and participated in several LEGO League's Lego Robotics Tournaments. Thomas is being awarded The 2021 Nathan and Sally Rogoff Scholarship for Academic Excellence.  The late Nathan and Sally Rogoff were both well known for their generosity and dedication to helping others, especially young people who are blind or visually impaired. The Nathan and Sally Rogoff scholarship is awarded through the generosity of the NJCBVI Board of Trustees and was established to encourage and support the academic and career goals of students who have demonstrated scholastic excellence.
  • Vraj Patel of Whippany, is a rising junior at Rutgers University — Newark where he is currently pursuing a Bachelors' Degree in Computer Science and a minor in Computer Science. During his youth, he has ignited a passion for discovering new uses for technology and understanding how it positively impacts people’s lives. At present, he possesses several certifications, including: Microsoft Software Development Fundamentals, Microsoft Mobility and Device Fundamentals, as well as CompTIA IT Fundamentals. Committed to paying it forward, Vraj has volunteered at a local library to teach coding to young students and is now a leader in the Computer Science Developer club at his university. He has contributed his knowledge in software engineering, finance data science, web development, and IT while volunteering and interning at several local businesses and nonprofits. Outside of work and studies, Vraj enjoys traveling and the thrill of exploring new destinations. Due to his impressive feats, Vraj is this year’s recipient of The 2021 Cathy and Herb Bodensiek Scholarship for Students Majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) or Business Administration. The Bodensiek Scholarship is awarded through the generosity of former CBVI Board of Trustees member, the late Herbert Bodensiek, who established this scholarship to encourage and support the career goals of CBVI students who are pursuing degrees in STEM or business administration. He and his late wife Cathy, dedicated much of their time and resources to helping others, especially young people who are blind or visually impaired, who strive to achieve their dreams with the determination and passion.
  • Jonathan Zobeck of Kenilworth recently graduated from The College of New Jersey with a degree in Communication Studies. With an innate desire to further his education, Jonathon is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Education of Students and Youth with Visual Impairment at Salus University. He is currently President of the New Jersey Association of Blind Students with the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey and a volunteer with the National Homework Hotline. In his spare time, Jonathan enjoys spending time with friends and family, as well as listening to music and audiobooks. He also loves karate and is a second degree black belt. In recognition for his outstanding achievements, Jonathon is being awarded with The 2021 Mary Louise Buckley Scholarship for Students Majoring in Health/Medical Services, Education or Communications. The Buckley Scholarship is awarded through the generosity of the estate of the late Mary Louise Buckley, a registered nurse who lived and worked in Mercer County. Known for promoting the value of lifelong learning and encouraging young people to pursue all opportunities to further their education, Ms. Buckley’s final wishes included the establishment of a scholarship to be awarded to a CBVI consumer who will major in the fields of health/medical services, education or communications.