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Main Engine Start, a nonprofit committed to fostering student interest and proficiency in science and engineering, has awarded the “Christopher John Stupak Scholarship for the Next Generation of Elementary School Science Teachers” to three Raritan Valley Community College graduates. 

The students, Ashley Carosella (Flemington), Alexa Tozzi (Bridgewater), and Kelly Zona (Hillsborough), are all Centenary University senior Elementary Education majors who previously earned their associate of arts in education at RVCC. The three students each have been granted a $6,000 scholarship to support their upcoming full-time, unpaid student-teaching experiences during the 2024-2025 academic year. 

The Christopher John Stupak Scholarship, named in memory of an outstanding 5th and 6th-grade teacher, is designed for passionate student-teachers devoted to making science an engaging, accessible, and fear-free subject in the classroom. 

Peter Stupak, founder and president of Main Engine Start, and brother of the late Christopher Stupak, commended the scholarship recipients. 

“These exceptional young educators epitomize the mission of Main Engine Start and the ethos of Christopher Stupak,” he said. “They have not only exhibited a grasp of science, but also a commitment to dispelling the apprehension often associated with it. They are devoted to cultivating an environment where curiosity and exploration are encouraged, transforming science into a voyage of discovery rather than a source of intimidation.” 

Kathryn Suk, professor and coordinator of education programs at Raritan Valley Community College, expressed confidence in the scholarship recipients.  

“These students have set themselves apart with their commitment and innovative teaching methods. I have no doubt that they will excel in their student-teaching assignments and go on to become impactful professional teachers, successfully instilling a love of science in their future students,” she said. 

Alexa Tozzi will commence her full-time classroom student-teaching in fall 2024, while Ashley Carosella and Kelly Zona will engage in part-time student-teaching in fall 2024 and transition to full-time student-teaching in spring 2025, respectively. Recognized for their academic excellence, innovative, hands-on science teaching methods, and dedication to instilling a love for science in young learners early in their academic journey, all three scholarship recipients are poised to make a significant difference. 

“As we bestow these scholarships, we also celebrate the commencement of these future educators’ voyage towards influencing the next generation of scientists and engineers,” Stupak continued. “They have already demonstrated prowess in their field, and we eagerly anticipate witnessing how their approach will inspire a new cohort of students to embrace science fearlessly.” 

To learn more about Main Engine Start and the Christopher John Stupak Scholarship, visit 

Photo caption: Recipients of the second annual “Christopher John Stupak Scholarship for the Next Generation of Elementary School Science Teachers” from left, are Kelly Zona (Hillsborough), Alexa Tozzi (Bridgewater), and Ashley Carosella (Flemington).