For graduating Trustee Scholars, a life-changing award reverberates as they enter workforce
Each year, Rider University awards scholarships and financial aid to 99 percent of its students. Of those thousands of students, 10 are selected annually to receive the most generous award of all: the Trustee Scholarship, a full four-year tuition scholarship valued at more than $175,000.
The University began awarding the Trustee Scholarship in 2016. This year, the first cohort of Trustee Scholars graduated from Rider, and even as they take their first steps into post-college life, the effect of the scholarship is already shaping their futures.
"Receiving the Trustee Scholarship has changed my life in more ways than I could have imagined when I opened my award letter," says Alexis Bailey '19, a political science major from Bayonne, N.J., who graduated in December.
She has been working as a legislative research associate at Kaufman Zita Group, one of the top five contract lobbying firms in New Jersey, since January.
"Having the financial freedom to attend Rider allowed me to make the connections, learn the lessons and gain the internship experiences that led me to the career I always dreamed of in government affairs," she says.
Rob Coakley '20, a health care management major, will start as a consultant at Guidehouse, a management consulting firm, in August. Graduating debt-free with a full-time job offer has put his potential plans for medical school to become a primary care physician within reach.
“I’m in a good position and that’s because of the scholarship,” he says. “I probably think about it once or twice a week. It gave me an excellent starting point to enter the real world.”
Michael DeLorenzo '20, a double major in elementary education and integrated sciences and math, is currently working as a long-term substitute teacher in the Hopewell Valley School District in New Jersey, with plans to begin Rider’s graduate educational leadership program in the fall. When he starts a permanent position in September, he will become the first member of his family not to enter the corporate workforce.
“My older family members worried about me being a teacher and if that would be financially viable in New Jersey,” he says. “The Trustee Scholarship gave me a clean slate financially, where I can walk away without the burden of debt or payments.”
DeLorenzo, who is from Hillsborough, N.J., has been dreaming about being a teacher since he was 12 or 13, when he was inspired by one of his middle school teachers, Barbara Doyle, who died soon after DeLorenzo graduated to the next grade.
"It made me realize the impact a person can have even after they’re gone," he says. "I wanted to find a career where I could make a difference and not just earn a paycheck."
When it came time to apply to college, obtaining a scholarship was crucial; DeLorenzo and his twin sister would be entering college at the same time, adding a significant expense to his parents' budget.
"The stakes were high," he recalls.
Likewise, Coakley, who is from Mullica Township, N.J., was concerned about adding a financial burden to his parents, especially with a brother two years younger than him who would also be enrolling in college soon.
"My parents would have helped me but I didn’t want to put them into that position," he says.
Bailey says affordability was her top priority when it came to her college search, and that it was only through scholarships that her education came within reach.
"My parents did not have the means to support me throughout college so I knew from the beginning that the financial responsibility of a college education was going to fall solely on my shoulders," she says.
Rider stood out to Bailey, Coakley and DeLorenzo for the same reasons so many of the University’s students are drawn to Lawrenceville: the intimate campus culture, family-like atmosphere and vibrant learning environment.
During the admissions process, DeLorenzo says, "I felt so welcomed at Rider, and maybe even important."
Coakley says, “People remembered who I was. That resonated with me.”
Brand new that year, the Trustee Scholarship was designed to attract and support well-rounded, high academic achievers. It also set rigorous standards for acceptance and lofty expectations once students were enrolled.
Scholars like Bailey, Coakley and DeLorenzo exceeded those expectations by embracing a variety of engaged learning opportunities to take full advantage of their Rider experience.
Bailey interned with the Republican National Committee, in the U.S. House of Representatives and with the state gubernatorial campaign of Jack Ciattarelli. She served as president of Rider’s chapter of the New Jersey College Republicans.
Coakley volunteered in the organic chemistry lab of Dr. John Adamovics, an assistant professor of chemistry. He also contributed to epidemiological projects coordinated by Dr. Kristin McCarthy, an assistant professor, including a community health needs assessment in Trenton required under the Affordable Care Act. He was published multiple times in research journals.
DeLorenzo worked as a community assistant and tour guide. He studied abroad in Northern Ireland. He was part of the Student Government Association and contributed to its efforts to support major campus construction, including the redesign of Cranberry's and The Pub. Delorenzo credits Barbara Fruscione, the assistant dean of the College of Education and Human Services, as a role model who had a particular influence on him. As a sophomore, he served as the peer mentor in Fruscione's freshman seminar class.
DeLorenzo's student teaching at Hopewell Valley led to a job offer, as did Coakley's internship with Guidehouse.
Becoming Trustee Scholars also opened up a world of connection and influence among their peers and the University’s administration. “The scholarship was about more than just the money,” DeLorenzo says.
He notes with a sense of pride that he and President Gregory G. Dell’Omo are on a first-name basis. That relationship began forming on DeLorenzo’s third day of college, when he ate dinner, not in the dining hall like most students, but in Betta House, which has served as the residence of Rider’s president for generations. Dell’Omo was hosting a small dinner for the recipients of the Trustee Scholarship
“The experience,” DeLorenzo says, “was so amazing.”
To learn more about the Trustee Scholarship, please visit rider.edu/trusteescholarship. This year, for the first time since it was launched, the Trustee Scholarship is being made available to transfer students.