2019 Merit Scholars

Meet the 2019 Merit Scholars

Max DiGiacomo-Castillo

Max (Ringwood, NJ) is a third-year student at Passaic County Community College. After graduating in the spring of 2020, Max plans to transfer to a competitive Computer Science program at a four-year institution. His career goals are to attend a top CS PhD program, obtain a professorship at a research university, and establish more computer science outreach programs for low-income students. His accomplishments include two first place prizes at the Beacon Conference, two publications, and a research internship at Stanford University in computer science. His previous publications, as well as his ongoing work at Stanford, focus on the field of cryptocurrencies.

Sebastian Echeverri-Perez

Sebastian (Paterson, NJ) is a student at Passaic County Community College (PCCC) majoring in Civil Engineering. He is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. He would like to transfer to a four-year university to get his bachelor’s degree. His ultimate goal is to get a PhD in engineering and open up his own engineering firm.

Shenekia Edwards

Shenekia (Newark, NJ) is an undergraduate student currently enrolled in the registered nursing program at Essex County college and is expected to graduate in the summer of 2021. A member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, Ms. Edwards consistently shows dedication to her academic endeavors defying personal odds and staying true to the values she holds dear such as hard work and perseverance.

Native to the beautiful island of Jamaica, Shenekia was often found caring for sick dolls as a child and would grow to become empathetic to the wellbeing of others. Her ultimate professional goal is to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist based on both her fascination and appreciation of the mechanisms of the human body and how man-made substances can work in unison to both disrupt and remedy its innerworkings.

In her spare time, she enjoys reading books concerning “medical fringe science” and conspiracy theories touting alternate perspectives of history and religion. She also enjoys spending time in nature, tending to flowers, pursuing daring activities such as ziplining with the hopes of one day sky diving and exploring various cultures through food and music.  

Shenekia is passionate about helping others and hopes to one day start a charity foundation called Dawn’s light named after her mother who has been a guiding force in her life. She hopes to help children in her community of East Orange and those in Jamaica with back to school supplies and tuition grants that will further their educational prospects much in the same way that she has been the recipient of similar efforts.  

Manav Guzraty Headshot

Manav Guzraty

Manav (Clifton, NJ) attends Essex County College and studies mechanical engineering.  He is the president of the Math Club and a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. He is also an undergraduate research fellow at New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Department of Mathematical Sciences and conducts research on Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos Theory. He plans to complete his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics, and then to obtain a master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering.

Antonio Huanay

Antonio (Clifton, NJ) attends Passaic County Community College (PCCC) and is an Engineering Science major. He is an active member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. After graduating from PCCC, Antonio wants to transfer to a four-year school and pursue a career in engineering.

Demi Matos

Demi (Paterson, NJ) is a Sophomore at Passaic County Community College (PCCC) expecting to graduate in the fall of 2020 with a computer science degree. During her first year of college, she was part of a research study regarding women in STEM environments. The research taught her how to critically analyze data and present the results in a concise manner.  She is also the treasurer for the Student Government Association. Demi is looking forward to continuing her education at a four-year institution, and be part of a game design club. Career wise she expects to work with artificial intelligence, machine learning, or video game development.

Mohanad Mohamed

Mohanad (Jersey City, NJ) is a sophomore at Hudson County Community College (HCCC) majoring in Computer Science with a focus on Cyber Security. At HCCC, Mohanad is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the Sigma Kappa Delta English Honor Society, and is involved with the Robotics Club, Gaming Central Club and S-STEM Research Scholarship. Outside of his classes, he is always seeking opportunities to get involved in research related to cybersecurity. Currently, he is an intern at the Siemens Corporate Technology Research Facility in Princeton, where he is researching secure web application development. Mohanad is determined to get his master’s degree in cybersecurity and planning on pursing a PhD afterwards. He is applying to Princeton University, Columbia University, and Stevens Institute of Technology where he seeks to get involved in researching post-quantum computing and cryptography.

Maximillian Mrozek-McCourt

Maximillian (South Orange, NJ) will be entering his second year at Passaic County Community College (PCCC) as a physical science major and anticipates graduating in May 2020. He will attend a four-year university to complete a bachelor’s degree in physics and plans to attend graduate school. He recently completed a National Science Foundation research program at the University of North Texas, conducting research in the fields of surface science, physical chemistry, and computational chemistry. 

Iryna Muryn

Iryna (Clifton, NJ) is a student at Passaic County Community College (PCCC) studying Biology. She wants to gain admission to a 4-year college and pursue a degree in cellular biology and neuroscience. She is deeply passionate about getting into medical school to become a doctor. She wants to educate people about health and lifestyle choices and treat patients in her community.

Loreidaly Perez-Gracia

Loreidaly (Paterson, NJ) is a student at Passaic County Community College (PCCC) majoring in Biology. She has been involved with Northeast Regional Alliance’s HCOP Med Prep Program at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, the Municipal Alliance Prevention Program, andRamapo’s Upward Bound Math Science program. After graduating from PCCC, Loreidaly plans to continue her studies at a four-year institution. She would ultimately like to become a researcher for a major university or company.

Samikshya Poudel

Samikshya (Jersey City, NJ) attends Hudson County Community College (HCCC). She is currently a Computer Science major. Her extra-curricular activities include the Computer Science Club, STEM club, and Music Club. She is an active member of the honor society Phi Theta Kappa and works as a lab assistant at the college. Once she graduates from HCCC, Samikshya would like to continue her studies earning a bachelor’s degree at Rutgers University and master’s at Princeton University. Her ultimate career goal is to become a Computer Science Research Scientist.

Brian Ribas

Brian (Harrison, NJ) Brian attends Hudson County Community College and studies cybersecurity. He is a peer leader at HCCC, treasurer of the Comp Science Club, VP of fellowship of his school’s Phi Theta Kappa honorary society chapter. In 2019, Brian was an America Needs You fellow and a Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar. After he graduates next spring, he plans to transfer to a four-year college to continue his studies in cybersecurity.

Jehan Shalabi

Jehan Shalabi (Paterson, NJ) is a sophomore at Passaic County Community College (PCCC) majoring in Engineering Science with a focus in Electrical Engineering. She is part of the Honors Program, a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF), the Robotics Club, the Bridges to Baccalaureate Alliance Club, and the Basketball team. She was also in the PCCC STEM Scholar Program. This past summer, Jehan interned at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland for 10 weeks. Her internship project focused on spacecraft components and how to aggregate the necessary component information for upcoming designs and space missions. She plans to transfer to a university to achieve a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.