The Brookdale Community College Foundation Scholarship Summer Bash was a sold-out event. On the College’s 54th “birthday,” the summer bash was held in the Donald D. Warner Student Life Center and outdoor patio area with live music performed by the trio, Scott Elk, Aaron Manzo, and Kyle Ward. The funds raised will support the Foundation’s mission to help students achieve their dream of earning a college degree.

Dr. David Stout, president of Brookdale Community College, thanked everyone for their generosity and said, “You would be stunned by how many students we have, not only here, but across our education system, where finance is tough and is the only thing that stops them from being able to obtain their associate degree and bachelor’s degree.” He also recognized the hospitals and said, “We are celebrating and honoring our hometown heroes tonight. If it were not for their commitment and their selflessness of putting themselves directly in the line of fire with this pandemic, we would not have been able to get through it.”

Over 200 attendees celebrated and showed their appreciation to the five honored Monmouth County hospitals, Bayshore Medical Center, Frank Citara, CentraState Medical Center, John Gibbin, Jersey Shore University Medical Center (JSUMC), Vito Buccellato, Monmouth Medical Center, Eric Carney, and Riverview Medical Center, Timothy Hogan, and all of their Covid response team members.

Each of the honorees spoke about their team’s utmost courage at their hospitals during the pandemic. Frank Citara, chief health executive at Hackensack Meridian Health Bayshore Medical Center, said, “The dedication of the team members here at Bayshore Medical Center and all the hospitals is truly remarkable. Especially what they were doing to protect themselves and their families, making sure they were here for their patients and making sure they were not bringing anything in from the outside to potentially affect their fellow team members or patients. Some lived separately from their families. They sacrificed a lot.”

Citara also added, “We consider Brookdale a partner with so many of their students coming through our doors for training treats, and we have hired many Brookdale graduates who are our team members now and fought this pandemic with us side by side. It reinforces what we know about Monmouth County Hospitals, how great they are, and that we have the best healthcare workers out there.”

Kristina Gamble, a 2020 Brookdale nursing graduate currently working at Community Medical Center’s emergency room, shared her story. She was a nontraditional student who had a bachelor’s degree and two children when her job of 10 years closed its doors. Gamble decided to go into nursing after gaining a great admiration for nurses (and doctors) while going through five years of hospital visits with her son. Having great perseverance, Gamble obtained her degree by studying and attending classes for two years in the middle of Covid. Gamble received multiple scholarships, including the Joan Litwin Memorial Scholarship, the Donna Paynton Memorial Scholarship, and the Brookdale Foundation and Alumni Association Scholarship, which made her dream to be a nurse possible.

“I love what I do. I would not be where I am today without one, the nursing program at Brookdale, and two, the scholarships for the added money to help me get through everything I needed, get my books, pay for lab fees, and a stethoscope, it made a huge difference.” Gamble said to the audience. “I am so incredibly grateful to everyone who donates to scholarships.”

Carol Stillwell, co-chair along with Karen Escobedo and Candy Langen-Sattenspiel, lead a live appeal. Dr. Susan Whyman, vice president of the Brookdale Foundation and the Frank Whyman Scholarship sponsor, made the first donation. “During the pandemic, I had a secret weapon that made each day a day filled with sunshine,” Whyman said. “The scholarship students at this College were there to give me hope. These students are now a treasured part of my life, and they never fail to inspire me. They get good grades, and they work more than one job, they also volunteer in the community, and have a passion that drives them to give their families a better life.”

The Scholarship Summer Bash was a huge success. The Invest In Student Success Fund increased over $200,000 that evening.