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:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Providence

Local Top Cops, Government Officials Helping 'March for Meals' Program

March 19, 2018

SUMMIT, NJ - Elected and Law Enforcement officials along with volunteers are joining SAGE Eldercare this month as it participates in the 16th annual March for Meals – a month-long, nationwide partnership of local community organizations, businesses, government officials and caring individuals, who come together to ensure that homebound and ...

New Providence Coach Joins Hoops Clinic Mar. 25 to Benefit Family of Jenna Sullivan

SUMMIT, NJ - By all accounts, Jennifer 'Jenna' Sullivan lived an amazing life. Tragically, that life was far too short, as Sullivan passed away December 19, 2017, at the age of 45.

Sullivan lost a hard-fought battle with cancer and left behind an amazing legacy of her love of life and her caring for everyone she met. She was a leader in everything she ...

Union County Students to 'March for Our Lives' Saturday in Union

UNION, NJ – Students from all over Union County will be walking from Burnet Middle School to Town Hall on Saturday morning, March 24, in an anti-gun violence march.

Led by steering committee chairman Colin Sumner, the march, which has the support of Senator Joseph Cryan, Moms Demand Action, Union County Chapter, and the Union County Freeholders, is not aimed at taking away guns, but ...

2018 Gov. Livingston Highlander Softball Clinic Set for March 19

Come join and learn from the 2017 Union County Softball Champion Gov. Livingston coaches and varsity players on Monday, March 19, 2018 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Activities will include the following fastpitch softball skills:

Batting Techniques
Throwing Mechanics
Base Running

Who: Children grades 1-7 of any skill level or ability

Where: Gov. Livingston High School, 175 ...

Mount Carmel Breakfast with the Easter Bunny, Sunday, March 25

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Mount Carmel Society is hosting a Breakfast with the Easter Bunny on Sunday, March 25 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 56 River Road in Berkeley Heights with an Easter Egg Hunt at 11 a.m. (weather permitting).

The all you can eat buffet includes pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, bagels, donuts and muffins and a cash bar will serve Mimosas and Bloody ...

Register for Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at Mt. Carmel Hall in Berkeley Heights

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Come out and enjoy Breakfast Buffet with the Easter Bunny on Sunday, March 25 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Mt. Carmel Hall at 56 River Road in Berkeley Heights.

Children can have their picture taken with the Easter Bunny and receive a special gift from the Easter Bunny.

The buffet includes all you can eat pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, donuts, muffins, coffee, ...

Thank You From Mayor Al Morgan

March 16, 2018

This past week will certainly be remembered by us all for a very, very long time. Thank you hardly seems sufficient, but it is the very least we can express in appreciation for all the incredible acts of kindness, generosity, selflessness, and volunteerism our community received this past week during and after the storm.

Thank you to all of our residents for their patience, understanding, and ...

NPHS Student's Response to After School Walk-out Plan at NPHS

A group of students file into a science classroom amid a nervous din of chatter, the air is electric with excitement and nervousness. This small group of approximately 30 students are a studious bunch, largely members of the sophomore class with squeaky clean administrative histories. They are currently preparing to defy authority and stand up for what they believe in, even though they had been ...

A New Day for 529 Plans: Federal Tax Reforms Lead to New Possibilities for These Education Savings Accounts

March 8, 2018

Do you have a 529 college savings plan? Have you thought about opening a 529 plan account? If the answer to either question is “yes,” you should know about two major changes that broaden the possibilities for 529 plans. They may give your family some new options. You may be able to pay K-12 tuition with 529 plan funds.

The legislation ...

Avon Loses Its Last ‘Grand’ Hotel to the Claw of an Excavator

March 17, 2018

AVON-BY-THE-SEA, NJ — In less than two days, an Avon-by-the-Sea landmark that stood for 130 years was reduced to a huge pile of rubble. The Norwood Inn no longer stands on the corner of Norwood and Second Avenues — the last of the stately hotels that once graced the streets of Avon.

As onlookers gathered around the demolition site on March 15 and March 16, an excavator clawed its ...

Upcoming Events


Mon, March 19, 8:00 AM

Providence Health and Fitness, New Providence

Barre Intensity

Health & Wellness


Mon, March 19, 9:15 AM

Providence Health and Fitness, New Providence

Aroma Flow Vinyasa

Health & Wellness


Mon, March 19, 10:00 AM

Providence Health and Fitness, New Providence

Pilates Reformer

Health & Wellness


Mon, March 19, 11:00 AM

Providence Health and Fitness, New Providence

Hatha Flow Yoga

Health & Wellness


Mon, March 19, 7:00 PM

Providence Health and Fitness, New Providence

Alignment Based Vinyasa

Health & Wellness

Mon, March 19, 7:00 PM

Cranford Community Center, Cranford

Agents of Change: Women in NJ History


You Want a Check for How Much!

 My first admissions gig was working for a small liberal arts college with a pretty hefty price tag.  Picture me at a college fair: name tag in place, pile of brochures ready to go.  An eager family would walk up and we’d start a conversation.  One of the first questions I’d get from parents was about cost and the moment that $50,000-plus figure left my mouth I ...

New Providence Annual Paca Club St. Patrick's Day Extravaganza

Mayor Al Morgan with Paca Club President Armand Galluccio don the green at the annual St. Patrick's Day Extravaganza on Saturday night at the Paca Club in New Providence.

The William Paca Club is a social and civic club, originally formed during the Great Depression by a group of residents of New Providence. In 1943, the club officially received a certificate ...

New Providence OEM Opened Storm Shelter and Warmed Hearts

The New Providence Office of Emergency Management opened its shelter at 5:30 PM on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, their first guest being a stranded motorist.  The storm left ¾ of New Providence without power. The shelter cared for over 325 people over the course of 6 days. 

The Shelter provided, heat, wifi, electricity, food and a safe place to sleep. One ...