How NJ Colleges Have Been Challenged by the COVID Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned higher education upside down. NJ college presidents discuss how the coronavirus has affected them financially.
Miguel Fernandez, Michael Karas, Danielle Parhizkaran, Tariq Zehawi and Jean Rimbach, NorthJersey.com
DOVER – Orfilia De Jesus’ life and commitment to higher education is commemorated through a scholarship fund created by her family after her death due to complications from COVID-19.
Stunned by the death of their mother last April, David and Jason De Jesus and their father, Francisco, created the Orfilia De Jesus Scholarship Fund to honor her work and service to the community. Last week, four students from Dover High School were the first to receive the funds.
âI sometimes thought that maybe my mother was dead and that resulted as a response to what I want to do,â said Jason De Jesus. “She did a lot for the community and was silently in the background to make sure the place was still standing.”
Six students from Dover applied for the first annual scholarships. The scholarship selection committee chose Margaret Agnes Cassano, David Aguado, Victor Criollo and Jillian Nicole Giraldo, seniors from Dover High School, to receive $ 500 each. Students from the Dover region who are pursuing higher education can apply.
The initial funds came from the De Jesus family, who hope to award more scholarships next year. De Jesus said his mother was “diligent” in making sure her children go to college, but the idea to create the fund and “give back” came from their father.
“It was all the old man. I didn’t even have time to think about how we would remember Mum,” De Jesus added. “It’s really a forward payment, a refund of sorts.”
News from Dover: E-mails from middle school teacher to student are ‘inappropriate’, court documents say
Known as a charismatic woman who has helped the community, Orfilia, 67, was dedicated to her family, said De Jesus. As a young boy in the Dover public school system, De Jesus remembers his mother helping when he didn’t know how to divide. Having only completed eighth grade in Colombia, Orfilia was teaching her sons her way of doing math, often confusing them, something De Jesus said he misses today.
âI remember her trying to explain to me how to divide and the way she learned was different from what was taught here,â added De Jesus. “But she tried, and she still made us realize how important it is to do our homework, go to school and pursue higher education.”
Although she did not have a college degree, Orfilia knew the importance of an education, De Jesus said. This is the first time De Jesus has explored philanthropic opportunities, but he and his family hope to hold fundraisers throughout the year to raise money for additional scholarships next year. They also hope to expand the organization and include networking and mentoring opportunities for Dover students wishing to go to university.
“She did a lot of things in the city and I didn’t put that into perspective until after she passed away,” De Jesus said.
Francisco said his late wife lived for her children and sacrificed a lot for their future.
“She has done everything possible to ensure that her children have a better future than she,” he added.
Orfilia’s sons graduated from Seton Hall with degrees in technology. Francisco said his late wife also enjoyed volunteering for local organizations, including Casa Puerto and the Rotary Club of Dover. A shrewd woman, she enjoyed spending time on community projects and sharing her creative talents with others. Above all, she loved spending time in her garden. Francisco hopes to start planting flowers in his wife’s garden as a tribute to her.
âWhen it all happened, we were all more concerned that our old man had the support system he needed given the loss he had suffered,â said De Jesus.
He hopes to continue to grow the Orfilia DeJesus Scholarship Fund and organize a fundraiser in the fall. Those interested in making a donation can visit the Orfilia DeJesus scholarship fund on Facebook.
Jessie Gomez is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com and NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
E-mail: [email protected]