Trenton, NJ – The Higher Education Student Assistance Authority and the Public Service Electric Gas Company Foundation are pleased to announce the selection and recognition of five recipients of the Dana Christmas Scholarship for Heroism in a ceremony to be held at the PSEG headquarters in Newark on July 23, 2010. This scholarship is named for a heroic young woman, Dana Christmas, who is credited with saving the lives of Seton Hall University students when a fire broke out in the Boland Hall dormitory in 2000. It was her selfless efforts that prompted the Legislature to create the scholarship program honoring students who perform exceptional acts of heroism. Awards of $10,000 have been made annually to up to five young New Jerseyans who met the spirit of the Dana Christmas Scholarship. The scholarships are intended to assist the students to meet higher education costs.
The New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) will not only be recognizing the five recipients but also the PSEG Foundation for its generous support which made this year’s scholarships possible. “This public private partnership serves to encourage community involvement, good citizenship, and higher education attainment – all necessary factors for our State’s success” remarked Michael Angulo, Executive Director of HESAA. “Heroes, like these individuals, deserve our utmost appreciation and encouragement,” continued Angulo, “and PSE&G also deserves our special thanks.”
The 2010-11 Dana Christmas Scholarship for Heroism Award Recipients are:
Zasha Aquirre of Egg Harbor Township, even after sustaining gunshot wounds herself, had the presence of mind to throw herself over her sister to shield her from gun fire. This action saved her sister’s life.
Ryan DeCoursey of Florham Park sprang into action when a fire threatened his classmates and younger brother during a theatre arts class. Upon noticing the fire, Ryan grabbed the nearest fire extinguisher, attempted to single handedly put out the fire, and was able to contain the fire until the fire department personnel arrived.
Tyler Dougherty of Cape May and Padraic Roney of Del Haven witnessed a car flip over on the Garden State Parkway. Despite the car catching fire, these two young men still managed to pull the driver from the burning wreck and save the driver’s life.
Billy Hoffman of Toms River, during the frigid winter, noticed that his neighbor became stuck in a frozen pool after rescuing her dog. Though he was unable to pull her to safety, he was able to call for help and stayed with her until help arrived.
Each of these young people has demonstrated acts of true heroism and have earned the right to be acknowledged as Dana Christmas Scholarship heroes.
Since 1959, HESAA, a non-profit, state designated Authority, has delivered over $18 billion in financial aid. Each year, over 1 million students receive assistance from outreach programs and aid programs HESAA administers including Tuition Aid Grant (TAG), the Part-time TAG for County College Students, NJSTARS and II, the Garden State Scholars programs, the Federal Family Education Loan program, NJCLASS, and NJBEST. For additional information about HESAA please visit our website at www.hesaa.org or call our Customer Care Center at 609-584-4480.