The Area VII Physicians Organization Scholarship is helping Brookdale Community College student Mark Salerno achieve his goal of working in a children’s hospital. “I want to, hopefully, make children’s respiratory care less scary while helping them get better,” he explained.

Salerno is a respiratory care major who plans to finish his associate degree in May 2022. He explained he choose to attend Brookdale because of the strong reputation its respiratory care program has. “The program is very well accredited and well respected,” he said. “After graduating from this program, I know I will have a strong educational background.”

Salerno found the faculty at the college are inspiring and challenging him to achieve a strong education. “My Anatomy and Physiology professor, Dr. Kristen Petersen, was such a mentor for me. She always believed in me and has pushed me to be a better student, person, and leader,” he said.

“I know Mark is enthusiastic about his career choice.  I think his intelligence, curiosity and excellent interpersonal skills will contribute to his success as a Respiratory Therapist,” Petersen, instructor in the biology department at Brookdale, said. “His future patients will be lucky to have someone who strives for excellence and is thorough in carrying out his responsibilities.  But they will be even luckier because of the compassion and kindness Mark will show them–he will be an advocate for his patients,” she said

“Mark was dedicated to learning the material and understanding why it was relevant to his future occupation.  I so enjoyed having him as a student in class because he always had a smile on his face and enjoyed what he was learning,” said Petersen.

Because of his academic achievements, Salerno was recently inducted into Brookdale’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the honor society for two-year college students. “I was able to volunteer one day at a food pantry in Asbury Park which was an awesome experience,” Salerno said about his involvement with PTK. “We were able to help a lot of the community members who needed food and canned goods along with clothing and other necessities,” he said. “I look forward to doing more during my time in PTK.”

The Area VII Physicians Organization Scholarship is helping Salerno achieve his goals. “This scholarship has helped me with my educational goals by allowing me to put this towards my tuition,” he said. This scholarship helps 10 respiratory care students realize their dreams each academic year.

“Brookdale has wonderful resources, so if there is ever a time when you feel overwhelmed or confused, always feel free to reach out to someone to discuss the problem,” said Salerno.

Every academic year, over 500 Brookdale Community College students receive nearly $450,000 in scholarship assistance from the Brookdale Foundation. These scholarships help students like Salerno complete their educational goals. For more information about the Brookdale Foundation and available scholarships, please visit