NEWTON, N.J. – First in her class and captain of three varsity teams, Jennifer Makarevich added yet another distinction to her record-breaking athletic successes and top science and math awards this year: 2015 United Way Scholar Athlete.

During the 30th annual celebratory banquet on Friday March 27, Makarevich joined the ranks of impressive Sussex County student athletes who excel in the classroom and sports arenas and in making a positive mark on the community. 

“For 30 years, United Way has been recognizing the brightest young talents in our community and we are honored to enter Jenn Makarevich into distinguished ranks,” said United Way of Northern New Jersey Chief Professional Officer Mary Emilius. “United Way Scholar Athletes have a track record of continuing to make us proud with incredible contributions to this community and others around the country.”

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During its 30-year history, past winners have gone on to become CEOs, executives at top international banking firms, cardiologists and rocket scientists. See list of alumni below.

The annual banquet showcases the positive impact area youth are having in their schools and communities, Emilius said. Proceeds from the banquet support United Way’s work to improve the culture and climate in local schools, including a summit for 1,300 middle school students each fall.

This year, Makarevich, of Kittatinny Regional High School, took home a total of $4,000 in scholarships, including the top award of $3,500, sponsored by Ronetco Supermarkets as well as a $500 book scholarship provided by Peter and Wendy Stamer. Each of the 10 scholar athletes received a scholarship, with awards starting at $500. Emilius singled out 10 sponsors who have shown steadfast support the past 30 years, helping to make the program possible since its inception: Eastern Propane, Kiwanis Club of Sparta, Lakeland Bank, Mugs Media, New Jersey Herald, Perona Farms, Ronetco Supermarkets, Sparta PAL, Sussex Bank and Van den Heuvel & Fountain.

Makarevich stood out for an impressive array of accomplishments including serving as captain of the girls’ varsity basketball, field hockey and track teams, receiving Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Rensselear Medal and volunteering in the community. Makarevich plans to study biomedical engineering and play competitive sports in college.

The first runner-up was Joseph LaBell from Lenape Valley Regional High School, second runner-up was Annaliese Keimel of Newton High School and third runner-up was Patrick Harsanyi of Jefferson Township High School.

High Point Regional High School’s Lindsey Sumpman received the Community Service Award in recognition of her dedication to community volunteerism. Part of her service included dedicating 60 hours of service to Newton Medical Center, volunteering in the radiology department and at the Beehive Thrift Shop in Newton, which benefits the hospital.

In addition, Kittatinny teacher Laura Haug and Vernon Township High School teacher Pamela Schaefer both received the Excellence in Teaching recognition, based on student essays written by Makarevich and Kirsten Ondris.

Former United Way Scholar Athletes have gone on to become CEOs, executives at top international banking firms, cardiologists and rocket scientists. Below is a sampling of alumni who participated in the program.

  • 1988 High Point Regional High School: Jim Cerra, president and CEO of Planet Together Software
  • 1994 Sparta High School: Dr. Stephen Piacentine, board certified in internal medicine, echocardiography, nuclear cardiology and cardiovascular disease
  • 1996 Sparta High School: Kristin Muenzen, attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice
  • 1997 Jefferson Township High School: Steve Schlegel, senior manager for Deloitte and Touche
  • 2000 Wallkill Valley Regional High School: Erik Dambach, propulsion development engineer for Space X
  • 2003 Sussex County Technical School: Raina Shivashankar, gastroenterologist
  • 2004 Kittatinny Regional High School: Kimberly Kraemer Russell, senior vice president at Barclays Capital
  • 2005 Vernon Township High School: Sabrina Moran Little, ultra marathon national champion and American record holder
  • 2008 Kittatinny Regional High School: Caitlin Hennessey, certification administrator at Association of Financial Professionals

For more information about the United Way Scholar Athlete program, email Mary.Emilius@UnitedWayNNJ.org or call 973.579.3040.