Brookdale Community College students Alyssa Knop and Maria Waheed Jaral received the first Barbara Tozzi Scholarship created in the memory of Professor Barbara Tozzi, a math professor at Brookdale for many years.

“I was shocked when I found out I was going to receive the scholarship,” said Knop, an education major who just finished her first year at Brookdale. “I normally don’t apply for scholarships because I don’t think I have a shot of getting them, but here I am.”

According to Elaine Klett, Knop was the first choice of everyone on the scholarship committee because of her desire to become a high school math teacher and her enthusiasm for math. “Barbara Tozzi started out as a high school math teacher. She loved math and teaching math. Alyssa expressed those same things in her letter,” Klett a retired math professor and current math tutor at Brookdale, said. “What I found amazing about her letter was Alyssa was already considering ways to teach math and help students to learn,” she said.  

“I have always had a passion for math, and I want to be a high school math teacher so I can show students there are many ways to get to the answer of any problem,” Knop said.

In addition to teaching math, Tozzi was also passionate about the Women in Engineering, Science, and Technology (WEST) club she founded with Klett in 1994. “Barbara considered WEST extremely important in her life and career here at Brookdale; we both did,” Klett said.

Jaral is an active member of WEST at Brookdale who just finished her second semester at Brookdale. An international student from Pakistan, she said being part of the WEST club has given her resume building experiences and helped her find research programs to apply for. “They helped introduce me to new things,” she said.

“This is my first achievement and very first scholarship in the United States, so I will always remember it,” Jaral said of receiving the scholarship.  She is transferring to Rutgers University in the fall where she will continue to study computer science.

“My experience at Brookdale has been great,” Jaral said.

Knop agreed with Jaral. “I have had a really good experience at Brookdale. I feel like I can talk to any of my teachers, and I made connections with all the other students in my classes. It really is like a community here,” Knop said of Brookdale.

To learn more about Brookdale’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) degrees, please visit