Thanking Benefactors and Supporting Students At The Champions of Justice Reception

Thanking Benefactors and Supporting Students At The Champions of Justice Reception

Thanking Benefactors and Supporting Students At The Champions of Justice Reception

Robin Merle, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, told the audience at the Champions of Justice reception on February 28, that, “One of my favorite quotes, that is very appropriate for tonight is, ‘It takes each of us to make a difference for all of us.’" That spirit of giving, that desire to help students reach their fullest potential, permeated the room. The event gave the John Jay community the chance to congratulate student scholarship, fellowship, and internship recipients, while also recognizing and thanking the generous benefactors that made it all possible.

Robin Merle
Robin Merle

“One of my favorite quotes, that is very appropriate for tonight is, ‘It takes each of us to make a difference for all of us.’" —Robin Merle, Vice President for Institutional Advancement 

One of those generous benefactors, who touched many hearts with his proud memories of his parents, was Jeffrey Schlanger, a Deputy Commissioner of the NYPD. “I established the Samuel and Litza Schangler Scholarship in honor of my mother's coming to the United States as a refugee from Austria in 1938. She had the good fortune to find a benefactor which allowed her to attend college, and ultimately become successful. It put me on the path to success as well,” said Schlanger. “My mother was clearly a very lucky woman. She escaped from the Nazis with her family. She formed a relationship with a stranger who supported her academic pursuits. She ultimately found my father, and without any of those instances of luck, I wouldn't be here, but I am.” Movingly acknowledging his own good fortune, Schlanger praised Jessica Saca ’19, who immigrated to the United States from Ecuador as a child. Looking at Saca, Schlanger said, “The idea of paying it forward, whether through public service, or this scholarship at John Jay, is a responsibility that I take very seriously. The performance of which is unbelievably satisfying. I congratulate Jessica on being awarded this scholarship, and know that she will pay it forward in the future.” 

Jeffrey Schlanger speaking to the crowd as Jessica Saca looks on
Jeffrey Schlanger speaking to the crowd as Jessica Saca looks on

“The idea of paying it forward, whether through public service, or this scholarship at John Jay, is a responsibility that I take very seriously.” Jeffrey Schlanger 

A commitment to supporting veterans is something that T-Mobile and John Jay proudly have in common. And, through the T-Mobile Scholarships for Veterans, the positive affect of T-Mobile’s generosity was easily seen. John Jay student-veterans Nichole Westry, Anthony Sambula, and Jorge Rivera Bueno, joined David Bezzant, T-Mobile Senior National Director, Government Mobility Solutions, on the stage. Bezzant told the audience that five years ago his team was presented with an opportunity to create a scholarship for CUNY veterans at John Jay College. “As we dug in and figured out who these scholarships were going to, it was the shortest conversation you could possibly imagine because the answer was an immediate yes,” said Bezzant. “When we learned about the types of students who were attending the school, the bright futures that were ahead of them, the amount of quality education that John Jay provides, and types of career paths they were pursuing, we knew we wanted to participate. Veterans are truly our heroes. We know that that's why this nation is free and why we get the opportunities that what we have. I just want to say thank you on behalf of T-Mobile.”

Karol Mason, Nichole Westry, Anthony Sambula, Jorge Rivera Bueno, Robin Merle, David Bezzant
 (left to right) Karol Mason, Nichole Westry, Anthony Sambula, Jorge Rivera Bueno, Robin Merle, David Bezzant

“Veterans are truly our heroes. We know that that's why this nation is free and why we get the opportunities that what we have.” David Bezzant

A touch of celebrity showed up at the event when Pauley Perrette, the actress known for her character “Abby Sciuto” on NCIS, appeared on the big screen. She  congratulated Alexa D’Arienzo, a freshman and the first recipient of her forensic science scholarship, and she explained how proud she was of the “Abby affect”—a world-wide phenomenon in which her character “Abby” has helped young women envision themselves as leaders in STEM-related career fields. “I'm really excited about Alexa getting this scholarship. She seems perfect to me. She's a hard worker at school and in her own life working at a bakery and her family funeral home. There's a lot that she does, and she's been able to also be an excellent student. I know in my heart that she's going to use this scholarship and do great things. I'm super proud of her.” Perrette went on to say that she enjoyed the actual process of establishing the scholarship. “Setting up a scholarship is such a rewarding thing. The process wasn't that complicated, and I would encourage anyone else that has that kind of desire to place a legacy of education. Education is what's going to form these young people's lives and guide their path for the rest of their life—and it just feels really good.” 

Robin Merle and Alexa D’Arienzo
Robin Merle and Alexa D’Arienzo

“Education is what's going to form these young people's lives and guide their path for the rest of their life.” Pauley Perrette

Merle concluded the presentation by congratulating the 150 champions in the room and thanking the many donors who support the incredible spirit and perseverance of our students. “I’m happy to announce that this year, 10 new scholarships have been started. We will award more than $5.2 million dollars in scholarships, fellowships, and internships to over 1,400 students,” said Merle. “And, I have breaking news, an hour before this event, we were told by the New York Giants that they were going to provide $75,000 for scholarships for students over the next three years.” Understandably, the audience gave the announcement a huge applause. Then students, donors, faculty, and staff spent the rest of evening making connections, learning about each other’s accomplishments and dreams, and inspiring each other to pay it forward. 

See the inspiring 2019 Champions of Justice video here.

Read more about our Champions of Justice:

S. Nichole Westry ’07 Wins T-Mobile Supplementary Scholarship for Veterans

Jessica Saca ’19 Wins the Litza and Samuel Schlanger Scholarship

Anthony Sambula ’01 Named A Winner of the T-Mobile Supplementary Scholarship for Veterans

• Alexa D’Arienzo ’22 Wins the Pauley Perrette Forensic Science Scholarship

 

More scenes from the event:

Students at the Champions of Justice Reception 2019

Jeremy Travis and student

Students at Champions of Justice

President Karol Mason with students

Prof. Jose Luis Morin with students at Champions of Justice

President Karol Mason, Alexa D'Arienzo and Robn Merle

President Karol Mason posing with students at Champions of Justice 2019

President Karol Mason posing with big group at Champions of Justice 2019