Education

Rotary Plainfield-North Plainfield Scholarship Awards

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Brenda Okereke, recipient of two scholarships Credits: Courtesy of Rotary
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PLAINFIELD, NJ —The Rotary Club of Plainfield- North Plainfield recently presented scholarship awards to twenty-three graduating seniors at North Plainfield High School and at Plainfield High School.

The Rotary club awarded $11,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors at North Plainfield High School, $16,860 to seniors at Plainfield High School, and another $11,000 through the Adele deLeeuw Scholarship Fund.

The local club sponsors its own F. S. Mathewson Rotary Scholarship, awarding a total of $8,000 to students in the two high schools in its service area.  “Eight scholarships were awarded in memory of Matty Mathewson, the first member of our club to serve as District Governor,” said club president Ravenell Williams IV. ”We honor Matty’s memory through our community service activities, including these scholarship awards to assist students as they continue their education.  Candidates for this award must demonstrate a mix of academic achievement; financial need; community service; school service.”

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The Rotary club targets the Mathewson Scholarship award to members of the North Plainfield High School Interact Club, the youth service club of Rotary.

“Members of Interact work very hard on many service projects of their own, including highly successful blood drives, community youth activities, food bank support, and many others,” said Mr. Williams. “The members also work at our Club’s garden plots at the Giving Garden in Warren, helping us raise fresh vegetables for the hungry. They also help us raise money during the year for our scholarship program, giving rise to recognition of that hard work with these special scholarships.” 

The Mathewson Rotary Scholarships were presented to Brenda Okereke, Molly Appezzato, Marisol Hernandez, and Helen Pazmino Nunez. Brenda Okereke also received the Paul Henry Memorial Scholarship, a late member of the Rotary Club. The award was presented by Paul’s widow, Joan Henry, and their two sons.

The Club also awards scholarships on behalf of the Plainfield Foundation, a community-based non-profit that awards funding to benefit local community groups.  This year, the Rotarians awarded $4,000 from the Leo Albert Friese Scholarship Fund to North Plainfield High students Jasmine Chavez and John Hatala. The Friese Scholarships are awarded to graduating seniors who will pursue a major course of study in science.

At Plainfield High School, the club presented $3,000 in F. S. Mathewson Rotary Scholarship awards to Maryam Muhammad, Sidney Ramirez, and Tammia Rosero.

In addition, the Club awards PHS Alumni Association Scholarships and J. Wilbur Tovell Scholarships to Plainfield High School seniors on behalf of the Plainfield Foundation.  The PHS Alumni Scholarship Fund was established in 1986 when the PHS Alumni Association, prior to disbanding, asked the Plainfield Foundation to award their scholarships. The Foundation established the PHS Alumni Scholarship Fund.  Candidates demonstrate academic achievement, participation in school activities.

Recipients of the $9,700 in PHS Alumni Scholarship awards were Shonasia O’Connor, Kamar Kellam, Ashley Herrera, Nia Cress, Angela Davis, Annette Fornah, Chyna Forrester, Tania Mota, and Katherine Mendoza.

The J. Wilbur Tovell Scholarship Fund was established as a bequest from Plainfield resident and alumnus of Plainfield High School.  J. Wilbur Tovell (1893-1974) graduated PHS in 1911 and New York University in 1915. His bequest stipulates that scholarship candidates must be male students only, with academic achievement and participation in school activities.

Recipients of the $7,160 in J. Wilbur Tovell Scholarships this year were Erick Luna, John Hawks, Anthony Martinez, Matthew Branch, and Steven Johnson..

Finally, the Rotary Club also administers the Adele DeLeeuw Scholarship Fund.  This fund was established in 1988 by a $1 million bequest in the will of the late Plainfield author Adele DeLeeuw.  The Club works with four other Rotary clubs in the area to see that the annual income from the bequest is awarded to students who pursue a course of study in poetry, art, journalism, writing, or engineering.  "We have awarded a total of $1,143,500 over the twenty years that the Rotary Club has administered the program," said Michael Townley, chairman of the Adele DeLeeuw Scholarship Committee. "This total exceeds the original bequest."

The DeLeeuw Scholarship awards were presented at a special dinner on June 8 at the Spain Inn. The Club presented a $2,000 scholarship to North Plainfield High senior Brenda Okereke. The club also presented repeat scholarships to past graduates and rising sophomore Melody Njoku ($3,000) and to rising seniors Charlotte Brockway of North Plainfield ($2,500) and Mary Ann Anane from Plainfield ($3,000). The other four Rotary clubs awarded an additional $49,500 to students from their communities.

The Rotary Club’s Plainfield Scholarship Committee was chaired by Tom Reedy, assisted by Roberta Smith, Maliek Flynn, Victoria Griswold, Shannon Jeffreys, and Beverly Howard. The North Plainfield Scholarship Committee was chaired by Mary Forbes, assisted by Fred Saide, and Janice Allen.

The Rotary Club of Plainfield-North Plainfield, founded in 1921, has served the community for over 95 years. Members are community and business leaders in the area who meet weekly on Wednesdays at 12:15 pm at Giovanna’s Restaurant in Plainfield.  Rotarians work on community service, vocational service, and international service projects throughout the year, with their main focus on community service in Plainfield and in North Plainfield. 

Contact Michael Townley, club secretary, at rotarypnp@verizon.net for additional information about the Rotary Club and its activities or to inquire about membership, or visit the Club’s website at www.rotarypnp.org or its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RotaryPNP. 

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