Tell Us Your Story!
If you're a previous Bloomfield Educational Foundation scholarship winner, please let us know how you are furthering your education or career.
Sarah BSales ’17 is a 2017 Robert Fetterly Alumni Scholarship winner attending the University of Notre Dame.
What year are you entering at Notre Dame?
I am currently going into my junior year at the University of Notre Dame and cannot believe that I am already halfway through college!
At Notre Dame, we have something known as our ND intro. Here is mine: My name is Sarah Bsales and I am a junior studying Computer Science. I am originally from Bloomfield, New Jersey and call Farley Hall home on campus.
How has the experience been so far? What were/are your favorite things about it and maybe one 'not so favorite' aspect of college life.
When going through the stressful college application process, I
continuously reminded myself that I will end up where I am supposed to
be, and I truly believe that I did. One of the most difficult pieces
of college is the transition of moving away from your family and
everything that you have known for the first 18 years of your life
into a new place with all new people. While this was a challenge for
me, the University of Notre Dame is a family of its own. You are
brought into a dorm where people genuinely care about you and how you
are doing. Classes are collaborative rather than competitive. People
from all backgrounds come together on campus under one dome. I still
struggle to leave my family at the beginning of each year, but I think
of locking arms with friends in the Notre Dame Stadium as we belt out
the alma mater and remember that I am simply passing from one family
Did you participate in the BHS SAT test prep classes or take any AP
classes and the exam to gain college credit? If so, did either of
these programs help you?
In my time at Bloomfield High School, I took advantage of the
multitude of AP classes offered. Since I did not have to worry about
the cost of tests thanks to the BEF, I was free to take any and all
courses that would further my academic journey. In my junior and
senior years at Bloomfield High I took eight AP courses including AP
English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and
Composition, AP United States History, AP Statistics, AP Computer
Science A, AP Calculus BC, AP Biology, and AP Physics I.
While Notre Dame did not accept credit for many of these courses, what
I gained from taking these classes was far more important than credit
hours. Through these classes, I was introduced to the rigor and
scheduling of a college course. I learned how to study for a final
which encompasses all material covered in a given class and take
multiple exams in a short time frame as I do during finals week each
Most importantly though, I discovered the field which I currently
study and will continue my career in following graduation. Through
the BHS AP program, I discovered Computer Science. My teacher
inspired my passion and encouraged me to continue into a field where
women are the minority. Because of him, I have the confidence and
drive to work through the challenges and pursue a career in the field
which I love, computer science. For him and the AP program which
sparked my passion for coding, I am forever grateful.
I chose to take the ACT test rather than the SAT so I did not take the
BHS SAT test prep course.
How do you manage your time, as it seems like you are engaged in many
One of the best pieces of advice I received freshman year of college
was to pick a few clubs and fully commit to them. I was told this as
I walked to the annual activities fair where over 400 clubs set up to
recruit new members. With that in mind, I chose to take part in the
First Year Engineering Council which was a division of the Engineering
Leadership Council (ELC) for freshmen students.
At Notre Dame, the dorm culture is a large part of what makes our
university so unique. First year students are randomly sorted into
single-sex dorms where they will live for the remainder of their time
on campus. Each dorm has their own personality, traditions, and
events. I was lucky enough to be placed in Farley Hall where the
motto is “Come Share Life.” I made the decision that beyond ELC, I
would be an active member of the hall. I became a Welcome Weekend
Ambassador to help make the new first year students feel at home as
well as the sisterhood commissioner my sophomore year. Beyond that, I
competed in dorm sports including flag football and was present for
hall councils and various other events.
With so much going on at all times, I had to learn work-life balance.
I began studying with friends as many of us had rigorous workloads
that required long hours in the library. I learned that academic
planners were my friend and allowed me to plan ahead so that I could
hand in high quality work on time while still having a social life.
Most importantly though, I learned to, at a point, just put away my
work because the social growth of college is just as important to me
as the academic growth. The memories made with my friends are what I
will look back on years from now, not the nights of work, and so I
want to fit in as many long talks and endless giggles as I possibly
can. While I have still not perfected my time management, putting life
in perspective and prioritizing what I find truly important has helped
me to be successful.
Can you describe Women in Engineering and how you have worked with the group?
I am mainly involved in the Engineering Leadership Council on campus.
As a freshman, I was the Vice President of the First Year Engineering
Council which was the freshman division of ELC. As a sophomore, I was
the Chair of Engineers Week for which I planned a week worth of
academic, social, and professional events for the 2,000 students in
the College of Engineering. As a junior, I will be the Vice President
of the Engineering Leadership Council and will oversee the many events
that we put on as a council.
The Engineering Leadership Council is essentially the student council
of the College of Engineering. We work closely with other engineering
clubs, including the Society of Women Engineers, to put on events that
benefit the college as a whole. We act as a liaison between the
students and faculty of the College of Engineering as well as outside
organizations. The council brings companies to campus for professional
development, runs social events for students including the annual
Engineering Formal, and works with the local South Bend community
through volunteer events.
Can you tell me a little about the SMART award and the application
process and if you know, why you were chosen as a recipient?
The Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART)
Scholarship-for-Service Program is an opportunity for students
pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Mathematics disciplines to receive a full scholarship
and guaranteed civilian employment with the Department of Defense
I applied for the scholarship throughout my freshman year and was
informed that I was a recipient in April of 2019. Applicants must
submit many essays, multiple recommendation letters that speak to
their abilities, a transcript, and preference for locations to be
placed in. The process consists of three rounds during which your
online application is reviewed and sent to sites that the applicant
may be a match with. Each site then interviews the applicants that
they feel strongly about. If a site and applicant match, an offer is
As a SMART scholar, we are provided summer internships at our sites
and are guaranteed a job at the same site for as many academic years
as we were granted the scholarship. Since I was given the SMART
scholarship for my sophomore, junior, and senior year of college, I
will be with Picatinny Arsenal for three years following graduation.
While I was not told exactly why I was given the scholarship, I
believe that I stood out from other applicants through my essays and
interview. Computer Science can be a quirky field in which people
often have difficulty conversing. My essays were full of personality
and interviews consisted of a natural flow of conversation. With these
I believe that I stood apart as a woman in the computer science field.
What will you be doing for the Picatinny Arsenal upon graduation?
Following graduation, I will be a full time Department of Defense
employee at Picatinny Arsenal in the Quality Engineering and System
Assurance division. In my role, I will perform software testing and
development tasks for the Army’s newest technologies.
Do you have an overall career goal or and/or are you thinking about a
master's degree or above?
Picatinny has a program which would allow me to get a master’s degree
at Stevens University when I am an employee. While I am considering
this, I would like to gain some industry experience before I decide
what I would like to further my education in.
As for a career goal, I thrive in a hectic environment and see myself
in the startup world at some point. I enjoy interacting with many
people to complete tasks that require a varied skillset.
Do you have other interests in addition to school? Sports, hobbies?
Does tailgating count as a hobby? Notre Dame is a very active campus
which has inspired me to be active as well. I often go for runs
around the lakes on campus and participate in dorm sports such as flag
football and soccer.
Any volunteer work that you are involved in that you'd like us know about?
Through the Engineering Leadership Council, I am able to volunteer in
the local South Bend community. For an event we call Engineers
Inspire, we teach STEM lessons at a local elementary school and
showcase projects that our various engineering clubs work on in a
two-day event. We have also worked with a class to build a local park
and gazebo for the community to enjoy.
I would like to once again thank you for the feature and for all that
the Bloomfield Educational Foundation makes possible for students in
Bloomfield such as myself.
Haley Patel '19
Alexandria Russomanno '14
Haley is the 2019 recipient of The Matthew Melucci Scholarship and The Dorothy Jewkes Straight and Leroy Straight Scholarship.
Haley’s brilliant smile and willingness to share the spotlight with others are the first two things that you notice about her. Her accomplishments are numerous and she is quick to tell you that her successes have been because she was able to work with those who share her enthusiasm for academics and community service. And anything she does, she does to the fullest extent. Case in point, not only is she a member of the Key Club, but a member with Distinction, logging in over 20 hours annually as a volunteer. She is VP of
The National Honor Society and a Student Council member. Chosen for the Senior Leadership Program, Haley was one of 30 selected, out of 75 applicants. The Senior Leadership Program students go into the freshmen classes and talk to the students about getting involved and the importance of trust, kindness and communication. Does this make a difference to a freshman student? Yes, Haley heard from a freshman who said it made all the difference in the world to have a senior there and ready to help out and solve problems.
The Leadership students also travel to Shop-Rite and set up tables to tell elementary students about good nutrition and how to create a personal nutrition plan. When Haley isn’t in class (in addition to her regular classes she is taking AP Computer Science, AP BC Calculus, AP Literature and Composition and AP Language and Composition) she volunteers at Second Home in Passaic. There she works with the senior citizens and helps with clerical duties in four-hour intervals. She enjoys hearing the seniors’ stories of when they were young and likes helping them to feel cheerful and optimistic.
Haley said the SAT Prep classes were very helpful and she feels she did better on the test because of them. Her AP Statistics class broadened her horizons and helped her realize a career path that she wouldn’t have discovered had she not taken the class. She has done well enough in her Junior AP classes to earn college credits and hopes to do the same this year. She has been accepted to Rutgers and Temple and is wait-listed for Northeastern. She also applied to NYU, Stevens Tech., Drexel, Lafayette, and Cornell. Haley has an older sister in college who also benefitted from the SAT Prep and AP Test programs. Her Dad is a recruitment manager and Mom is an RN.
Alexandria is a 2014 BEF Leroy Straight and Dorothy Jewkes Straight Scholarship Recipient
Alexandria began her post high school educational career at Rutgers University, where she enrolled in the Rutgers Business School, and majored in Accounting and minored in Human Resource Management.
Alexandria considers herself fortunate to have worked as a Finance Intern at Dun & Bradstreet in the Corporate Controllers Group during the Summer of 2017. She is also very grateful to have been selected as the New Jersey Society of CPA's 2017 Scholarship Award Recipient. Currently she is interning with the Walt Disney Company in Orlando, Florida, and this summer she is looking forward to beginning her journey at PwC, PricewaterhouseCoopers, as an intern on the Assurance team-practicing audit.
Alexandria will graduate Rutgers in May, 2018, with 150 credits and hopes to pass the Certified Public Accounting Exam, become a CPA and begin her career at PwC.
“My BEF scholarship really helped to make my education possible and opened so many doors for me,” Alexandria said. "I am so grateful for the BEF scholarship, founded and made possible by BHS graduate, Candace Straight, that I received four years ago.”
As a grateful member of the Bloomfield community, one of her favorite things was working as a camp counselor for two-and-a-half years with the Bloomfield Recreation Center during her college career. She states enthusiastically that it helped her to stay connected to her Bloomfield family that she loves so much!