West Orange Rotary gives scholarships to eight students

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Rotary Club Scholarship Committee, recently awarded scholarships to eight graduating seniors, all of whom live in West Orange. This year a total of $11,000 was awarded to the eight recipients, as follows:

  • Yasmeen Abouelnaja plans to study biology and environmental science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She was the captain of the West Orange High School color guard and president of the Interact Club, which is the high school affiliate of Rotary. She is an active volunteer, giving her time to numerous community service events. 
  • Cole Devin Burdek plans to study media production at Stockton University. Burdek was a four-year member of the WOHS bowling team and a Mountaineer Mentor. He is a volunteer basketball coach for the Mountain Top League and has volunteered with the Greater Essex Counseling Services, an organization that provides help to those battling depression and other mental health issues.
  • Sebastian DeSimone plans to study education at Gwynedd Mercy University. He aspires to be a paraprofessional working closely with students in need of a little extra help. He was a member of the indoor and outdoor track teams, as well as the cross country team. He also served as a Mountaineer Mentor and received the WOHS Principal’s Award for Service.
  • William Escalera plans to study criminology at Caldwell University. Escalera aspires to be a firefighter. He was a member of the Air Force Jr. ROTC while at WOHS. According to Escalera, his dedication to service comes from his cousin, who serves in the U.S. Marine Corps.
  • Tziporah Ruth Isler plans to study animation at Binghamton University. Isler has created more than 400 comics, both the artwork and storybook, sharing them with her fellow students at Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School each week. She was one of the few girls on the school’s track and cross country teams, receiving the Coach’s Award for her commitment to girls varsity track. Before entering college, Isler will take a gap year and study in Jerusalem.
  • Aditya Jacob plans to study mechanical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. During his high school career, Jacob was involved in a startup company that automates warehouse material handling and shipping. His goal is to design supply chain automation. Jacob was a member of the WOHS marching band and a recipient of the Director’s Award. He is trilingual, has volunteered for various organizations and worked as a teacher’s assistant in a middle school STEM program.
  • Kerenna Jourdain plans to study biology at Seton Hall University. A strong advocate for mental health awareness, Jourdain was the president of the WOHS Student Advocates for Mental Health Awareness club. She was a Mountaineer Mentor and a member of the National Honor Society. She captained the girls step team, was a member of the Jubilee Choir, and was manager for two of the school’s volleyball and basketball teams. Jourdain’s goal is to become a physician’s assistant, working in obstetrics and gynecology. 
  • Christina Sarkes plans to study biology on the pre-medicine track at Rutgers University–Newark. At WOHS, Sarkes was a member of the math, social studies, science and thespian national honor societies. She was student body vice president, secretary of the Tri-M Honors Society and a board member of the Science Olympiad. She was a member of the varsity fencing team and played flute in the honors wind ensemble. Sarkes aspires to be a radiologist.