NJSPBA scholarship recipients share lessons learned from having parents on the job that will enable them to pursue higher education
By Esther Gonzales
Photos by Ed Carattini Jr.
Growing up with their father, Middlesex County Corrections Officers Local 152 member Kevin Kosa Sr., on the job, Kevin Jr., Connor and Alexis Kosa witnessed relentless commitment and dedication.
They remember seeing him working countless 16-hour shifts, sometimes nearly five days a week, just so they would have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Dreams like becoming a veterinarian, working in a science lab and pursuing a love for writing.
It is that kind of work ethic that inspired the Kosa triplets in their own lives. When their father suggested that they apply for NJSPBA scholarships, the siblings immediately talked with each other about the essays that were part of the application.
This was one of those times when they knew their father’s hard work would pay off.
“Without my dad working as hard as he did, it wouldn’t be possible,” Alexis shared. “I want to do what I can to make sure he can be proud of me. And also, to just be appreciative of every opportunity he helps me get.”
On June 27, the Kosa triplets were among 45 high school graduates to receive NJSPBA scholarships at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. These scholarships are awarded to children of NJSPBA members who have exhibited outstanding academic achievements.
From more than 500 applications, these 45 students were selected for, among other criteria, their high grade-point averages and involvement in extracurricular activities, including volunteering, sports and school clubs. Many are pursuing degrees in the STEM field.
Each application was reviewed, and recipients were selected by members of the PBA Scholarship Committee. Scholarship Chair Dave Cavaliere, the Parsippany-Troy Hills Local 131 State Delegate, noted just how significant it is to be chosen as a recipient.
“It’s an honorable recognition that the PBA makes, and the committee, we all have a great time doing it,” Cavaliere highlighted. “We take it very seriously. Honestly, I wish I could give out to every single one of those students. I wish I could give out 500 scholarships. It was difficult to pick them because they all stood out.”
When selecting recipients, Middletown Township Local 124 State Delegate Anthony Dellatacoma, also a committee member, noticed the intelligence of this particular group of applicants. He observed how well-rounded each student was.
“What I find impressive is, not only do they maintain such high grades, they’re able to dial it down a little bit and get out and volunteer,” Dellatacoma explained. “And I always find that impressive, how they can really maintain the full circle.”
As these students take the next steps, they have stepped up with the support they have received from the PBA. Scholarship recipient Megan Bruther, daughter of retired Allenhurst/Ocean Township Local 57 member Brendan Bruther, has seen that
support her whole life.
“My dad’s been a police officer since he was basically in high school,” Megan related. “So he’s been a part of that family for a while. And knowing that even though I’m not considering becoming a police officer, that I still have them if I still need someone, it feels very good. It’s definitely going to make me work a lot harder, too, knowing that the PBA is willing to give me money to succeed.”
As an incoming freshman at Landmark College in Vermont, Megan is considering studying occupational therapy or working with animals. And she is carrying with her the kind of lessons that perhaps one only learns with a parent on the job.
“My dad is very good at problem solving,” Megan remarked. “When he would come home and talk about work, I could see he’s used what he learned throughout high school and other schools in his job. It’s helpful to know that he is good at problem solving if I need him.”
Luke Sciallo Jr., who is planning to study civil engineering at Rutgers, related that the NJSPBA has been a huge part of his life, too. His father, Local 57 State Delegate Luke Sciallo, has been his son’s role model.
Luke plans to go into the architectural field and build bridges and infrastructure. And he is even considering pursuing a career in law enforcement. Luke explained how proud he is to be chosen from hundreds of outstanding applicants.
“My dad is a big part of the PBA, and it’s been around me all my life, so I was really happy to see that I could win,” Luke related. “It was kind of a surreal experience that I was one of the 20 boys that were picked.”
Walking up to receive his scholarship, Anthony DiMeglio, son of Lawrence Township Local 119 State Delegate Chris DiMeglio, had the same feeling of elation as many other recipients.
“It definitely meant a lot, because there were so many other applicants that could have received it,” Anthony explained. “The PBA thought that I was worthy enough of winning, so it felt good.”
Growing up with a single mom on the job with Middletown Police Department, Molly McCabe learned how much hard work truly matters. She said that is the most important lesson she is bringing with her to Rutgers University, where she will study ophthalmology.
“You won’t necessarily always be praised for your work, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep on going,” Molly explained. “A lot of times police officers are underappreciated, but their job is still very important, and they still have the willpower and the drive to keep pushing through.”
Molly expressed how the scholarship has confirmed just how much her mother’s hard work paid off. And it was a picture of how the PBA has truly been there for her.
“The PBA community as a whole has been really important and instrumental in my life, with not only my mother, but everyone else that I’ve met through my mother’s work and how they’ve always been there for me,” Molly added. “It’s important for people to recognize how these people have a really important role in our lives and society as a whole.”
With triple the willpower, Kevin, Connor and Alexis Kosa are planning to attend Middlesex County College together.
With a love for animals and his many pets, including three dogs, a lizard and a guinea pig, Kevin plans on majoring in biology to become a veterinarian. Knowing that members of the PBA believe in him has inspired him even more to achieve his goals.
“I’m really grateful for it, and it’s definitely going to help for my future,” Kevin related. “And because it’s from the PBA, and just growing up with my dad working a lot, that makes me want to work hard in college and get a good degree and a good job.”
Alexis reiterated her brother’s sentiments. And as she goes on to pursue a degree in marketing or possibly journalism, she shared a vital lesson she learned as a child of a law enforcement officer.
“It’s definitely taught me to be more resilient and try to get through different things and persevere,” Alexis added. “Although hardships may come my way, I just need to be thankful for every opportunity that I receive. I need to remind myself to be encouraged and persevere through the next few years.”