Four Students Receive Scholarships from NJ Sharing Network

Varsha Garla, left, Don Sarnowski, and Emma Rothman. Rothman and Garla each received a Betsy Niles Scholarship, which was presented by Dan Sarnoswki, Niles’ partner. Credits: Edir Coranodo
Alex Sirubi, left, Missy Schwarts Rodriguez and Max Prince. Sirubi and Prince each received a Missy’s Miracle Scholarship, created to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Rodriguez’ liver transplant. Credits: Edir Coranodo
Credits: Edir Coronado
Credits: Edir Coronado
Credits: Edir Coronado
Credits: Edir Coronado
Credits: Edir Coronado
Credits: Edir Coronado
Credits: Edir Coronado
Credits: Edir Coronado
Credits: Edir Coronado
Credits: Edir Coronado
Credits: Edir Coronado
Credits: Edir Coronado
Credits: Edir Coronado
Credits: Edir Coronado
Credits: Edir Coronado
Credits: Edir Coronado

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The NJ Sharing Network awarded four New Jersey high school students scholarships this year at a recent reception held at their headquarters in their garden in New Providence. 

Emma Rothman of Cranford and Varsha Garla of Marlboro received the Betsy Niles Scholarship. Max Prince of North Caldwell and Alex Sirubi of Allendale, received the Missy’s Miracle Scholarship.

Dan Sarnowski, Ms. Niles’ partner, presented the Betsy Niles Scholarship which is named after the children’s book editor whose donation of two kidneys on March 31, 2011, saved two lives. Missy Schwartz Rodriguez presented the Missy’s Miracle Scholarship which she established to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her liver transplant. Each scholarship is for $5,000, ($2,500 per semester).

Sign Up for E-News

Sarnowski said “there could have been thirty-seven recipients,” because each of the applicants had outstanding academic records. What set these four applicants apart was and continues to be their relentless effort to spread the word about organ donation. It’s something they know well. Organ donations have figured prominently in the four awardees’ lives and each sought to share their story to help educate the public on the importance of organ donations.

Emma Rothman was 12 when she found out she needed a heart transplant or “plant” as she called it then. She had suffered sudden heart failure due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. She didn’t fully understand what was happening to her, but knew that after the surgery her life would never be the same.  During Rothman’s 15-day recovery at the hospital, she learned more about her diagnosis and the dire outcome if she had not received a new heart.

During her recovery, Rothman noticed the amazing support system that was readily available for her and her family and was inspired. Less than five weeks later, Rothman participated in the NJ Sharing Network’s first annual 5K to honor her personal donor and has worked with them ever since.

She and her family also established the non-profit group Hearts for Emma which first offered families in the hospital a “meal plan,” so they could go out to eat. That was just the beginning, Sarnowski said. Now there is Emma’s closet, which provides a variety of toiletries for families in the hospital. Rothman also wrote, produced, and appeared in a video, “You Have The Power,” where she explains the importance of organ and tissue donation. 

Varsha Garla’s inspiration came from the second chance her father received after learning there was a match for him and he would receive a new kidney. Before the surgery, Garla’s father struggled to complete the most basic tasks. She said she was ecstatic that her father would now be able to watch her dance performances. She was also sad when she learned that her father’s new kidney came from a teenage girl who lost her life in a car accident.

During her freshman year, Garla decided she would dedicate herself to raising awareness about organ transplants and became a certified volunteer. During her volunteer training, she learned one organ donor could help save eight lives and that the number of people on the transplant list is growing, with one person being added every 10 minutes.

Garla’s experience led her to speak at various events, write articles for the website “Curious Science Writers,” and, ultimately, to decide to become a doctor. 

Max Prince was overjoyed at the thought of being a big brother to Sam, but his joy turned to worry when his family found out that Sam needed a new heart. This was devastating news to Prince and his family, especially since it required Sam to be isolated because of a weak immune system. After what seemed to be an endless wait, the Prince family received a phone call that a match was found and Sam received a new heart.  

During Max’s Bar Mitzvah, not long after Sam’s heart transplant, Max decided he would create a team for NJ Sharing Network to help raise awareness and funds for the organization. During the last five years “Max’s Mitzvah Movers” has acquired hundreds of new team members and raised thousands of dollars for the organization.

Alexa Sirubi has a different story. Her father died after a heart attack four years ago, and the Sirubi family decided to say “yes” to organ and tissue donation. During the NJ Sharing Network’s Donors Remembrance Service, Alexa realized how the NJ Sharing Network “could turn pain into purpose,” as stated in her essay. She began her involvement in organ donation outreach in April 2015 by creating a team for the NJ Sharing Network 5K Race.

Sirubi said she felt that although high school students were provided with information about being organ donors more could be done, so she created a video that features experts in the field, organ donors and recipients. Sirubi’s video, has over 1,000 views on YouTube and was shown to her entire student body.

Sirubi said she will continue to spread awareness, her 2016 team raised thousands of dollars and her video will continue to be presented at her school, leaving a lasting legacy for her father.

NJ Sharing Network is located at 691 Central Avenue, New Providence, it can be reached at (908) 516-5400 or via email at

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Basking Ridge

Whole Foods in Bridgewater to Officially Open Doors March 21

February 20, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Whole Foods Market Bridgewater, the first Somerset County location for the retailer, will officially open its doors on Chimney Rock Road March 21.

According to a release from the company, the 49,000-square-foot store will open at 9 a.m., and there will be prize giveaways, special sales and product demonstrations and samples.

"We can't wait to serve Bridgewater and ...

‘Reefer Madness’ Comes to Chatham Borough Council; Cannabis Advocates Make Pitch for Chatham Marijuana Shop

February 14, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - A group of pro-cannabis activists came to the Borough of Chatham Council meeting on Monday night and used the public commentary portion of the meeting to ask the council to support a marijuana dispensary in town.

The advocates, who say they have attended more than 80 town meetings to inform about the benefits of medical cannabis, mentioned the 1936 movie "Reefer ...

Guest Column: The Great "Wait" of the College Process

February 16, 2018

For all the high school seniors and their parents, we are in the stressful "waiting period".  We've just finished or are finishing applications to all the schools we might possibly want to attend next year and now sit and wait our fate after the $60-$80 non-refundable application fees to at least 8-13 schools and staring at some pretty ridiculous tuition fees.

Early ...

Upcoming Events

Wed, February 21

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Wed, February 21, 9:00 AM

The Center for Contemporary Art , Bedminster,

Dan Bischoff: Critic As Artist

Arts & Entertainment

Wed, February 21, 9:00 AM

The Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster

Keepers of the Chroma: An Exhibition Regarding ...

Arts & Entertainment

Franklin: Sister2Sister Seeks Volunteers for 5K Run; Breast Cancer Health Summit and Screenings March 24

February 20, 2018

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, NJ – Sister2Sister, a non-profit organization that supports minority and underserved breast cancer survivors, is getting an early start on planning its 5K Breast Cancer Run & Walk For Life with an organizational meeting Thursday, Feb. 22.

Those interested are invited to the organization’s headquarters at 1201 Hamilton St., Somerset for the 7 p.m.


AtlantiCast: Episode 12

On this week’s episode of AtlantiCast, decade of excellence makes headlines, as Atlantic Health’s place on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List leads off the newest episode of AtlantiCast. Also on this week’s show, check out the newest “hybrid” operating room at Morristown Medical Center and find out how Atlantic Health is helping local ...

AtlantiCast Medical Minute: Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center

On this episode of the AtlantiCast Medical Minute, we’ll take you inside the Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center, with the center’s director, Jason Lowenstein, MD.

Video Link:

AtlantiCast Episode 011

Breaking Atlantic Health System news on this week’s AtlantiCast! Plus, find out why Morristown Medical Center is one of the best hospitals in the nation when it comes to recovering from joint surgery, see the newest center for fighting brain cancer and an Atlantic Health System red-carpet premiere!