Affinity Federal Credit Union Foundation Awards Scholarships

BASKING RIDGE, NJ (August 20, 2013)The Affinity Federal Credit Union Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity corporation, held its 2013 Scholarship Dinner on August 7, 2013 at the Affinity Headquarters in Basking Ridge to award the Robert L. Birkhahn Community Spirit and Richard A. Romano Scholarships.

Scholarship Committee chair Christina Gaglione presented the Robert L. Birkhahn Community Spirit Scholarships to Daniel Chemey, from Middlesex, and Nicole Tallman from Hillsborough.

Dr. Lauretta A. Farrell, executive director of the Affinity Federal Credit Union Foundation, noted, “The annual Affinity Federal Credit Union Scholarship program is a highlight of our philanthropic calendar.  It provides an opportunity for us to recognize some of our younger members for the great work they do in their communities – a trait we value highly at Affinity.”

The Robert L. Birkhahn Scholarships are given in memory of Affinity’s former executive vice president and chief member relationship officer Bob Birkhahn, who passed away suddenly on January 9, 2013.  Bob was very passionate about both Affinity and its members.  His colleagues wanted to honor Bob in a very special way, and did that through not only naming the long-standing Affinity Scholarship program after him, but also by focusing attention on student members who shared his same passion for the community.

Daniel Chemey, who resides in Middlesex, graduated from Middlesex High School this past spring, where he was an incredibly active young man, participating in a variety of extracurricular activities, including Key Club, Student Council, the High School Chess Club, Soccer, Baseball, Track and Cross Country.  Somehow, he found the time to not only remain involved in the Boy Scouts, but to attain it highest rank – Eagle Scout, which requires earning at least 21 badges, as well as the planning and execution of an extensive service project.  For his project, Daniel chose to repaint the kitchen and repair the pavilion of the Middlesex American Legion Post 306.

In his application, Daniel wrote, “I am proud of the work I have accomplished, but it’s only just the beginning.  I will continue to uphold my responsibilities as a citizen and make lasting contributions to society.”

Nicole Tallman, a resident of Hillsborough, graduated from Hillsborough High School and will be studying at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences in the fall.  In her application, she wrote “I have been involved with a pediatric cancer charity named Ride4Erik for as long as I can remember.  Through this charity I was selected to make presentations of significant donations to St. Jude’s and St. Baldrick’s.”

Nicole also became active with a project at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, encouraging her friends and family to make fun surgical caps for patients.  To date, they have donated over 900 caps for children being treated at ChoP.  Nicole plans to train companion dogs as part of a program at Rutgers, where she will study atmospheric science in an effort to keep people safe and prepared for weather-related events.  She says she is “excited to help others now, and in the years to come.”

Birkhahn Scholar Erin Ferguson, a resident of Summit and a graduate of Governor Livingston High School, was unable to attend. In her application, Erin shared the story of meeting a disabled boy from her high school.  Their shared interest in basketball served as the foundation for an inspiring friendship that extended to other students with disabilities.  Erin, who will be attending Ithaca College in the fall, wrote that her new friends “are changing my life and teaching me to be a better person.”

In addition to the Birkhahn scholarship, Scholarship Committee Member Mike Cirillo presented the Richard A. Romano Scholarship to Jasmine Lin, a rising sophomore at Rutgers University and resident of Warren.

The scholarship was established in honor of Richard A. Romano for his outstanding contributions and unwavering dedication throughout his many years of volunteer service on the Affinity Federal Credit Union Board of Directors along with his service as executive-in-residence and member of the Rutgers University Business School Advisory Board.

Jasmine, who graduated from Watchung Hills High School in 2012,  had been an active high school student, serving on Student Council and attending Chinese School while engaging in international skating competition, becoming a proud member of Team USA.  Recognizing the challenge of maintaining her hectic competition schedule while pursuing post-secondary study, she chose to focus on college, where she found an innovative way to maintain her interest in skating by founding the University’s Figure Skating Club.

At Rutgers, she wrote, she found “a hidden community of athletes that needed an outlet at school for our shared interest.  From then on, the Club was not something for me, but for the community itself.”

In addition to “exercising” their passion, Jasmine and her teammates participated in a benefit for Hurricane Sandy, sponsored by the New Jersey Figure Skating Foundation.  In her latest pursuit, Jasmine found inspiration from her friends and students, and in turn, hopes “to inspire others – to learn motivation to conquer the struggles that come with athleticism, to engage other students in recreational figure skating, to encourage retired competitive skaters to return to the ice, and, most importantly, to inspire herself to influence other’s lives in a positive way through her world of skating.”

For more information about Affinity Federal Credit Union or its scholarship programs, please visit: or call Christina Gaglione at 800-325-0808 ext. 3521 or email her at

About Affinity Federal Credit Union
Affinity Federal Credit Union, New Jersey’s largest credit union, is a member-owned, not-for-profit, full-service financial institution with 15 branches throughout New Jersey with more than 133,000 members from more than 2,000 businesses and organizations and total assets in excess of $2 billion.  Headquartered in Basking Ridge, Affinity Federal Credit Union has been offering superior financial services with a member-oriented focus since 1935. For more information, visit


More News