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Bar Foundation awards $80,000 in scholarships to N.J. law students

The New Jersey State Bar Foundation is proud to award 16 scholarships totaling $80,000 this year, including three special Sapphire Scholarships celebrating the Foundation’s 65th anniversary, to second and third-year law students attending Rutgers Law School – Camden and Newark – Seton Hall Law School and Columbia Law School.

Since 1975, the Foundation has supported growth in the legal profession by offering annual scholarships for second- and third-year law students attending a New Jersey law school. From one scholarship in 1975 to more than 10 today, the Foundation is proud to foster pride in the legal profession by supporting the education of future lawyers.

Charles Stoia, president of the NJSBF, is chair of the Foundation’s Law Scholarship Committee and has been a committee member for more than 25 years.

“This program benefits students from all walks of life – people who have been unhoused, in domestic violence situations, first-generation Americans, women, first-generation college graduates and those in the LGBTQ+ community – who literally fought through whatever life has thrown at them and gotten to the point where they are now in law school,” Stoia said. “One of the components that we consider in awarding scholarships is the applicant’s service to the community. We take great pleasure in being able to support and assist these folks who have already made community service a priority in their lives. The scholarships we give are appreciated and help set the recipients on the right path.”

Many of this year’s recipients will attend the Foundation’s annual Medal of Honor Award Celebration on Sept. 26, recognizing retired state Supreme Court Justice Barry T. Albin and Lawrence S. Lustberg with this year’s awards. Join us at the Park Chateau in East Brunswick.

Check out what some of this year’s scholarship recipients shared about how the awards make a difference for them:

Cagla Yetis, a third- year law student at Rutgers Law School – Newark is focused on intellectual property law, blockchain and cryptocurrency law, as well as emerging companies and venture capital law. She was awarded the Sonia Morgan Scholarship.

As an immigrant and first-generation law student, it would have been impossible for me to obtain a legal education if not for the generosity of organizations like the New Jersey State Bar Foundation. The scholarship has not only helped me financially, but it has also validated for me that the sacrifices I have made to get to where I am today were not in vain.

Loris Dennis, a third-year law student at Rutgers Law School – Camden, is a social justice scholar focusing on corporate law. She was awarded one of the three Hon. Marie L. Garibaldi Scholarships.

“Receiving this scholarship is a great honor to me. Reducing my financial expenses allows me to focus on my academics and to give back to my community and my law school by working as treasurer for the Association of Public Interest, being the managing editor of the Rutgers Law School Journal of Law and Religion and supporting incoming minority students in their law school journey.”

Jibri Douglas, a social justice scholar at Rutgers University Law School – Camden is interested in pursuing civil litigation particularly commercial litigation, bankruptcy, insurance recovery or real estate litigation. They were awarded the Scarinci Hollenbeck Scholarship, given to students who demonstrates a commitment to the advancement of LGBTQ issues. Jibri hopes to continue to represent LGBTQ folks in their pro bono practice.

“Being awarded this scholarship affirms that I am on the right track in terms of continuing to fight and advocate for sexual and gender minorities. It also provides an energy boost to continue do the work of representing LGBTQ folks especially at a time like this where we are being legally scrutinized.”

Dominique Perez, a third-year student at Rutgers Law School – Camden, is focused on public interest law. She was awarded one of the Sapphire Awards offered in 2023 in celebration of the Foundation’s 65th anniversary. This award allows her to afford bar prep for 2024 and confirms she is moving in the right direction with her desire to follow her dream of pursuing a field of law that aligns with her passion.

“Being a recipient of this generous scholarship will help me pursue unpaid internships and explore externships which relate to public interest and criminal defense which build off of a philosophy, to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, that I believe: how we treat the most vulnerable people in our society is a reflection of who we really are, as a society.”

Alyssa K. Dawson, a third-year student at Seton Hall law School, works full time while attending law school. She received the Matthew E. Beck Criminal Law Scholarship and is focusing on criminal law. When applying for the scholarship, she researched Matthew Beck and found a 2017 article about the creation of the scholarship in which Beck shared, “There are people who are looking at the potential loss of their liberty and the stress and impact that has can consume their lives. I treat those matters in a way that doesn’t just do what is necessary. I’m getting these clients through these moments in their lives that are so challenging.” This resonated with Dawson, who shared that she hopes her work will follow Beck’s approach where “lawyering is not just for a result, but for the soul.”

Proceeds from this annual event help fund the Foundation’s law related programs, including the Law School Scholarship program. Tickets on sale at

2023 Law School Scholarship Recipients

• Abram D. and Maxine H. Londa Scholarship – Jonathan Romeo, Seton Hall Law School
• Labor Law Scholarship – Joanna Sowa, Seton Hall Law School
• Matthew E. Beck Criminal Law Scholarship – Alyssa Dawson, Seton Hall Law School
• Scarinci Hollenbeck Scholarship – Jibri Douglas, Rutgers Law School – Camden
• Sonia Morgan Scholarship – Cagla Yetis, Rutgers Law School – Newark
• The Hon. Marie L. Garibaldi Scholarship – Janette Nweme-Singley, Rutgers Law School – Newark
• The Hon. Marie L. Garibaldi Scholarship – Loris Dennis, Rutgers Law School – Camden
• The Hon. Marie L. Garibaldi Scholarship – Sofia Calvo Castillo, Columbia Law School – Columbia University
• The Justin P. Walder Scholarship – Frederick Davis III, Rutgers Law School – Newark
• Wallace Vail Scholarship – Omar Serrano, Seton Hall Law School
• New Jersey State Bar Foundation Scholarship – Delaney Hellman, Rutgers Law School – Newark
• New Jersey State Bar Foundation Scholarship – Kaitlyn Owens, Rutgers Law School – Camden
• New Jersey State Bar Foundation Scholarship – Karla Somoano, Seton Hall Law School
• NJSBF 65th Anniversary Sapphire Award – Daniela De la Cruz, Rutgers Law School – Newark
• NJSBF 65th Anniversary Sapphire Award – Dominique Perez, Rutgers Law School – Camden
• NJSBF 65th Anniversary Sapphire Award – Gabriella Ferreira, Rutgers Law School – Newark

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