Three area teens honored for winning scholarship awards

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ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — The Essex County Board of County Commissioners recently honored Ashley Cruz, of Newark, and Nicole Johannson and Neyah Johnson, both of East Orange, for being named the Essex County recipients of the 2021 Scholarship Program Award from the New Jersey Association of Counties Foundation. The board’s commendations were sponsored by acclamation and delivered to all three recipients in lieu of a presentation ceremony. 

The scholarship awards recognize distinguished students from technical and vocational schools who plan to pursue higher education in the state of New Jersey. The NJAC Foundation — in conjunction with corporate partners PSEG, Investors Foundation and SHI International — awards the grants to fund the honorees’ continuing education at a county college, or a state college or university. 

Cruz, who received the award from NJAC and PSEG, is a recent graduate of West Caldwell Tech and plans to attend New Jersey Institute of Technology, where she will major in construction engineering and management. With a passion for being environmentally conscious, Cruz consistently showed initiative by independently researching ways of building to maximize energy and efficiency, while proposing ways to reduce materials used in the classroom. She earned a grade-point average of 3.63 while playing on the varsity softball team, and became a respected member of the Superintendent’s Student Council, where she discussed ways of improving the school community.

Johannson, the recipient of the NJAC and Investors Foundation Award, is a recent graduate of the Donald M. Payne School of Technology, where she earned a GPA of 4.2, ranking her eighth in a class of 304 seniors. She plans to attend Rutgers University–New Brunswick and will major in forensic chemistry. Johannson was a member of the Cooperman’s Scholars program, which is a rigorous and selective college preparatory program, and also displayed a passion for athletics. She was the captain of the track and field team and a member of the cross country team. She was also a senior mentor and volunteered for various efforts through the Student Council. 

Johnson, also a 2021 graduate of the Donald M. Payne School of Technology, received the NJAC and SHI International Scholarship Award, and is the type of student who approaches new situations with a positive mindset and seeks to put her best foot forward. She plans to attend Kean University and will major in information technology. She is passionate about studying web design and has goals of becoming a software developer for a large tech company.