NEWARK, NJ — When Yelitza Perez, of Newark, graduated from Essex County College in 2019, she was an honors student and a semifinalist for the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Transfer Scholarship. Now she is the recipient of a $2,500 New Jersey SIM Foundation Scholarship.
“I couldn’t believe I received this scholarship,” said Perez, now a student at Rutgers University–Newark where she is majoring in computer science with a minor in mathematics. “So many people applied for it so I feel very fortunate.”
The foundation is a nonprofit arm of the New Jersey Chapter of the Society for Information Management, which awards scholarships to college students who have demonstrated academic excellence, leadership and a commitment to community service.
“We are very proud of Yelitza,” ECC acting President Augustine Boakye said. “Yelitza is another example of the high caliber of students who get their higher education start at Essex.”
While at ECC, Perez was a vice president of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and spearheaded various fundraisers. She also assisted the Student Government Association.
“Essex County College really prepared me going forward,” Perez said. “When I first started at ECC, I really wasn’t very involved on campus.”
But that changed when she was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
“With the encouragement of my professors, I learned to become a leader,” Perez said.
And then she got the opportunity to be a part of the college’s NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program.
“I’ve always been interested in NASA and space flight,” she said. “When I got into the NASA program at ECC, I loved it and it really helped me better define my career goals.”
Yelitza said, while she is considering private security work, utilizing her computer science education, her dream career is with NASA.
“That would be mind blowing,” she said, adding that she will always remember her time at ECC fondly. “I loved the family atmosphere. I will always have such wonderful memories of Essex County College.”