High School Students Awarded Scholarships by NJ Sharing Network

The Sharing Network Foundation recently awarded seven New Jersey high school students with scholarships for their dedication and urge to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation and transplantation. The members of the class of 2024 were given their scholarship awards at NJ Sharing Network’s headquarters in New Providence. 

“We are grateful for the generous support of our partner funds and their ongoing commitment to rewarding students who share a commitment to our lifesaving mission,” said Amanda Tibok, Executive Director, Sharing Network Foundation. “We know that all of our scholarship awardees will continue as strong leaders educating others about donation and transplantation throughout their college years and beyond.”

The Sharing Network Foundation’s are able to be given to exemplary students thanks to several of the organization’s family and partner funds. The scholarships that students were awarded and why they were created are listed below.

  • Hearts for Emma Partner Fund – created in celebration of Emma Rothman’s lifesaving heart transplant to support high school education and donation advocacy efforts.
  • Jim Rhatican Scholarship Fund – created in memory of Jim Rhatican, a NJ Sharing Network Volunteer, liver transplant recipient and retired teacher and coach of 35 years.
  • Missy’s Miracle Scholarship Fund – created in celebration of Missy Rodriguez’s lifesaving liver transplant to follow her passion as a college counselor through scholarships for high school students.
  • Riley’s Path – created in memory of organ donor Riley Kogen to provide financial assistance to transplant patients in times of crisis, and to award scholarships to high school students and advocacy heroes.
  • Daniel S. Buckiewicz Scholarship Fund – created in memory of organ and tissue donor Dan Buckiewicz to encourage students to have conversations about donation with their families and friends.

The seven recipients of these awards can be found listed below.

  • Nathaniel Attardi of Manasquan (2024 graduate of Wall High School) received a scholarship from the Riley’s Path Fund. Nathaniel’s commitment to organ and tissue donation advocacy was inspired by his Uncle Pat Clay’s need for a kidney transplant. Witnessing his uncle’s struggle and eventual success with receiving a donor kidney highlighted the dire need for organ donors. Nathaniel actively participates in awareness events to promote organ and tissue donation. He emphasizes the importance of encouraging new drivers to consider registering as donors. His interactions with transplant recipients have reinforced his belief in the lifesaving power of donation. Nathaniel also focuses on dispelling myths and addressing concerns to alleviate fears about donation. He advocates for community campaigns and collaborations with medical professionals to raise awareness.
  • Anika Bhatnagar of Edison (2024 graduate of Middlesex Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences) received a scholarship from the Missy’s Miracle Scholarship Fund. Anika’s advocacy for organ donation was inspired by her father’s battle with IgA nephropathy and lifesaving kidney transplant in 2019. Recognizing the critical need for increased awareness, she began volunteering with the NJ Sharing Network in 2021. Anika organized educational booths, led fundraisers, and hosted livestreams to share stories of donors and recipients, including her parents’ experience. She participated in panel discussions, leveraged social media, and partnered with local leaders to promote the cause. Her efforts included a mayoral proclamation for National Donate Life Month and public service announcements. Anika also established a Donate Life club at her high school to educate peers about organ donation. Her initiatives have earned her several awards, including the Student of the Year award from the Edison Chamber of Commerce and the Youth Volunteer award from NJ Sharing Network.
  • Lavarra (LJ) Hines of West Orange (2024 graduate of Newark Academy) received a scholarship from the Jim Rhatican Scholarship Fund. LJ’s advocacy for organ and tissue donation is inspired by his godfather, Dr. Randall Giles, a trauma surgeon and organ donor who saved multiple lives. Since age nine, LJ has volunteered at NJ Sharing Network’s 5K Celebration of Life, starting at the t-shirt giveaway tent and later as a photographer. These experiences taught him the importance of community service and the critical need for organ and tissue donors, particularly within the African American community. LJ has actively spread awareness by distributing educational materials at various events and using his 5K race shirts as conversation starters. LJ successfully arranged for NJ Sharing Network team members to present at his school to teach driver’s education students about organ and tissue donation. His efforts have inspired many of his peers to register as donors.
  • Kimmy Kenny of Brick Township (2024 graduate of Brick Township High School) received a scholarship from the Jim Rhatican Scholarship Fund. Kimmy’s understanding and advocacy for organ and tissue donation stem from her firsthand experiences and aspirations. Inspired by a childhood skin graft surgery that was made memorable by her mother and compassionate doctors, Kimmy aims to become a Cardiovascular Transplant Physician. She emphasizes that transplants are life-changing, restoring not just physical health but also joy and normalcy to patients and their families. Kimmy is a registered organ and tissue donor, and she actively encourages others to do the same. Through her YouTube channel and personal interactions, Kimmy spreads awareness about the significance of organ donation, inspired by statistics showing a high demand for organs and low supply of donors.
  • Divakaran Manimaran of Piscataway (2024 graduate of Piscataway High School) received a scholarship from the Hearts for Emma Partner Fund. Divakaran’s commitment to organ and tissue donation advocacy began in September 2021 when he volunteered at NJ Sharing Network’s 5K Celebration of Life. Inspired by conversations with participants, including a heart transplant recipient and a mother who made the selfless decision to donate her son’s organs, Divakaran co-founded the Donate Life Club (DLC) at his high school. The Piscataway High School DLC has been active in the community, hosting information stalls at local events and encouraging discussions about organ donation among students and their families. Under Divakaran’s leadership, the DLC participated in over 20 events and raised over $1,300 for the Sharing Network Foundation. The club also received the “Excellence in Youth Education” award from Donate Life America.
  • Jack Miller of Robbinsville (2024 graduate of Robbinsville High School) received a scholarship from the Daniel S. Buckiewicz Scholarship Fund. Jack’s lifelong connection to organ and tissue donation stems from his personal experiences with his grandmothers. His paternal grandmother received a double lung transplant, and his maternal grandmother, who played a significant role in his upbringing, required a kidney transplant. Jack’s father donated a kidney to save her life, reinforcing the family’s commitment to organ donation. Jack actively shares his family’s organ donation stories, influencing friends and peers to register as organ and tissue donors. He proudly displays an organ donation sticker on his car and has participated in community events and activities to help raise awareness.

Delia Parretta of Wykoff (2024 graduate of Ramapo High School) received a scholarship from the Daniel S. Buckiewicz Scholarship Fund. Delia’s advocacy for NJ Sharing Network is deeply personal, inspired by her older cousin Marielle, who underwent three transplants due to biliary atresia. Witnessing Marielle’s struggles, Delia chose to spread awareness about organ and tissue donation for her Girl Scout Gold Award project. She focused on new teen drivers, encouraging them to register as organ and tissue donors. Delia utilized TikTok, creating engaging content featuring her cats to attract viewers and dispel myths about organ and tissue donation. She also mailed informational pamphlets to driving schools in New Jersey and developed a digital presentation for driver’s education classes in her school district, ensuring her message reached new drivers. Her efforts have led to tangible impacts, with many individuals registering as donors because of her project.