Jeff & Sharon Katz
How did you become involved with the Foundation?
Jeff: I’ve been a member of the college’s governing boards since 1995 and the Foundation’s board since 2003. UCNJ makes a college education both accessible and affordable for more than ten thousand full-time and part-time students; however, for about 70% of UCNJ’s students the very modest tuition is beyond their means. If education is to be the great equalizer in our society, then we must help put a college education within reach of those who cannot afford one. That is the Foundation’s mission since its founding in 1977. My enthusiasm for the Foundation’s work inspired my wife Sharon, a retired educator, to volunteer.
Sharon: I began my personal journey with UCNJ about four years ago, when I attended a Gala Committee meeting. Jeff had been involved with UCNJ for such a long time that volunteering for the Foundation seemed like a good fit for me. I was a former 40 year educator and an experienced fund raiser for local organizations. I always was impressed with the importance of the Foundation’s mission and the Galas that we attended. My enthusiasm for the college and my retirement allowed me to take on the position of Gala Chair for the past three Galas. The rest is history. This October 25th, I will happily chair this year’s Gala.
Why do you continue to give to the Foundation and why it is important to you?
Jeff: At least three times a year, at the winter and spring commencement and at the annual scholarship reception, I am able to speak directly with students who are eternally grateful for their Foundation scholarships and special program awards. They would not have been able to cross the finish line without that support and to transfer as full juniors to a four-year college or to begin a career. We’re talking about the future of our towns, our county, our state and our nation. The Foundation helps to ensure the success of future generations. I see my work with and support of the Foundation as helping to ensure that success. The Foundation awards to UCNJ students more privately funded financial aid than any other source.
Sharon: For me, the reason I joyfully continue to participate came from attending the Scholarship Receptions. I met the recipients and their families and saw their tears of joy as they came over to hug me or shake my hand, thanking me for helping them succeed. I told them that a large group of individuals and businesses believe in them and fund Foundation scholarships. Actually, I am so proud that the Foundation awards more than $1.1 Million in scholarship aid to UCNJ students. I have been so moved by their stories of hard luck and financial difficulties that changed by receiving a scholarship. Many of these recipients have transferred to prestigious universities/colleges to continue their education. Others have fulfilled their dreams by completing UCNJ degree, certificate or diploma programs that qualify them for transfer or for better career opportunities.
Both: UCNJ students include many who are the very first in their families to attend college. Many also are working parents, some of whom hold several jobs in order make ends meet. Foundation scholarship aid allows many of these students to spend more time on studies rather than worrying about where the next nickel will come from. Foundation scholarships changed their lives. They now have hope and the ability to fulfill their dreams. That is why we volunteer.
Thank you Jeff & Sharon! We appreciate your continued support. Donors like YOU help us transform our community, one student at a time.