2018 Annual Scholarship Dinner

[MUSIC PLAYING] The work of the
university is to prepare students to be able to be
successful in the world that is coming. We need partners in
business and industry. We need friends and
supporters helping us to give the 5,000 students
who walk across that stage with a degree each year
the best possible chance to do the best for the world. (SINGING) I have
often and dreamed of a far off place
where a hero’s welcome will be waiting for me. My name is Trevor Stephney,
I’m a first year student at Montclair State
University, working to attain my BFA in filmmaking. At 17 years old,
I had an epiphany. All my life, people have told
me you’re going to be this, you’re going to be that
when it comes to basketball, but in reality, I know
it’s not the case. I’m not going to be the next
LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, but in regards to filmmaking,
there’s no doubt in my mind, I can be the next Spike Lee. In 2016, with my
film, Dissension, I won my first film festival. An interviewer ended up
coming up to me and asking me, in the long run, what are
your plans going forward as a filmmaker? What I want is to address
world issues through visuals you will never forget, change
the world one frame at a time, all through the perspective
of an everyday kid from Morris County. Here at Montclair State School
of Communication and Media, Trevor will have
limitless opportunities to fulfill his destiny
as a filmmaker because of our world-class facilities
and outstanding faculty. And we believe by bringing in
these talent award winners, these kids are going to up the
game for everyone around them. The night I received
the Creative Talent Award was one of the most
memorable moments of my life. My mother actually began
crying in the kitchen when she opened the letter
on scholarship night. This award strengthened
my determination to succeed as a filmmaker. I would like to thank
Montclair State’s generous philanthropic community
for making my attendance here a dream come true. I promise I will
not let you down. (SINGING) Time to go on the
road to embrace my fate. Though that road may wander,
it may lead me to my dreams. I’m a single mom who raised
three children while working in the accounting field. Two of my children have
already graduated college. In 2006, a family
tragedy changed my life. My nephew’s son passed away
in the hospital at birth. No complications, a birth issue
without an easy explanation. I had a minor medical
background so everyone looked to me for answers. I couldn’t give any. That night in the
hospital bathroom, I looked at myself
in the mirror, and I decided that even
though I’ve been out of school for 20 years, I’m getting myself
back into the medical field. I got my degree from the
Mountainside Hospital School of Nursing and began
working at the hospital, but I still wanted to
further my education. I was doing online
classes until the Dean of Montclair School of
Nursing came to the hospital and recruited me. I get my BSN degree in May. Candace is a great example
of a very qualified nurse who saw the opportunity with this
Montclair State University new program to advance her
degree to a four-year bachelor in science. It’s all about the bond that
you create with your patients. I’ve been on the medical
surgery oncology unit for almost eight years
now, helping my patients through the most difficult
and vulnerable period of their lives. I found my calling. The scholarship
help I’ve received has made all of this possible. In the future, I want to
get my master’s in nursing, and when Montclair opens
its master’s program, I’d love to study there. And then one day, I want
to teach young nurses bedside care. (SINGING) I will find my way. I can go the distance. I’ll be there some day
if I can be strong. My mother is the
strongest woman I know. In Macedonia, her childhood
was spent picking tobacco in the fields for
long hours each day for pennies to help feed
her family in the one pair of jeans she owned in a
village with no running water. Both my immigrant parents
taught me the importance of self-determination
by taking me to Macedonia each
and every summer. I went back, and I got
a sense of culture. But my culture, my version
of it is so much fun. Theirs is poverty and despair. It’s nothing fun about it. In New Jersey, my
childhood was spent having my mother
drill into my brain that I could be
anyone I aspire to be. I’ve worked three
jobs throughout school to pay for my future,
a career as a CPA. I was offered a
lot of scholarships by every school I
applied to, but I knew Montclair is where I’d go. Great professors here,
such as Steve Markoff, really noticed my potential
in the accounting major. Kristina was
recommended to apply for the Pay it
Forward Scholarship because she exemplified all the
characteristics that they’re looking for. When Drew and I started
this scholarship, we wanted it to be about merit. When we saw
Kristina’s resume, she was succeeding in the
classroom, succeeding outside of the classroom, and
she was on the verge of getting a Big Four offer. Frankie and I both
got scholarships. We both had doors opened
for us, and so now that we’ve found ourselves
in a position to do so, it’s about paying that forward. My family’s dreams are
finally coming true for me. I intend to remain a
leader at Montclair State. My plan is to learn,
earn, and in return, pay it forward by sponsoring
scholarships of my own to help those who
follow in my footsteps. (SINGING) And I won’t look back. I can go the distance. And I’ll stay on track. No, I won’t accept defeat. It’s an uphill slope,
but I won’t lose hope till I go the distance and
my journey is complete. If you think about the
University as a mosaic, you can see the sparkle of the
thousands of faces that make up the student population,
all the promise they bring for the future. Look at the incredible
diversity of subjects taught, from the
sciences to business to the arts, all the people
who make this happen, faculty, staff, friends, supporters, the
business community, and even from time to time, a politician. It is, in itself, an
incredible mosaic. (SINGING) I will find my way. I can go the distance. I’ll be there some day
if I can be strong. I know every mile will
be worth my while. When I go the distance, I’ll
be right where I belong. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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