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Four alums will receive honors at Alumni Weekend in April  

The College of New Jersey’s Alumni Association will honor four distinguished alumni who have gone above and beyond in their service, leadership, philanthropic efforts, and career advancements. The honorees will be recognized during Alumni Weekend on April 20.

“TCNJ alumni continue to do incredible work in our local, regional, and national communities,” said Angelica Lamartino ’08, president of the alumni association board. “I am honored to celebrate this year’s honorees at Alumni Weekend in April.”

The 2024 winners include:

Young Alumni Award
Melissa Belmonte ’18

Humanitarian Award
Lori Alhadeff ’97

Alumni Service Award
Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson ’94

Distinguished Alumni Award
Assemblyman Alex Sauickie ’93

These recipients will be honored at an award ceremony and reception during TCNJ’s Alumni Weekend on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at 1:30 p.m. in the R. Barbara Gitenstein Library Auditorium. Registration for this event can be found on the Alumni Weekend website. 

Learn more about the awards and how to nominate a deserving alum at


melissa belmonteMelissa Belmonte ’18    
Young Alumni Award

Melissa Belmonte graduated from TCNJ in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and a minor in women’s, gender and sexuality studies. During her undergraduate career, she strengthened her foundation in public service as a Bonner Community Scholar and as vice president of campus and community relations in Student Government. She was inducted into five honor societies: Kappa Delta Pi (education), Sigma Delta Pi (Spanish), Omicron Delta Kappa (leadership), Kappa Pi (art), and Iota Iota Iota (women’s and gender studies). She was recognized as Mentor of the Year by TCNJ’s Pride Mentoring Program and served on the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority’s Student Advisory Committee.

In 2019, the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education selected Belmonte from a statewide applicant pool to serve on the Student Success Working Group, and she became a subcommittee co-chair. She then graduated with a Master of Social Work with program distinction from Stockton University and earned a certificate on interpersonal violence and trauma from Rutgers University. She later worked as a graduate fellow for the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education.

Belmonte values the opportunity to share her insight growing up as a Mexican-American, working-class, first-generation student and advocates for postsecondary education to be a right for all. She now works for the New Jersey Division on Women and is a licensed social worker.

She is also pursuing a PhD in social work at Widener University and has worked as an adjunct professor at Stockton University, where she taught advanced research to social work graduate students.


lori alhadeffLori Alhadeff ’97
Humanitarian Award

Lori Alhadeff graduated from TCNJ in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science in health and physical education. She continued her education and earned a Master of Arts in education from Gratz College. A former K–12 health and physical education teacher and coach at Union Township School, Alhadeff obtained her health and physical education certification in New Jersey and New York and has taught children with dyslexia and language-based disabilities at the Winward School in White Plains, New York.

Alhadeff’s humanitarian work stemmed from the tragedy of losing her 14-year-old daughter in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14, 2018. She and her husband, Dr. Ilan Alhadeff, founded Make Our Schools Safe, a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit dedicated to protecting students and teachers at school. They were integral in creating Alyssa’s Law, critical legislation addressing the issue of law enforcement response time when a life-threatening emergency occurs. The law calls for the installation of silent panic alarms directly linked to law enforcement to help expedite response time in the event of an emergency. 

Her commitment to school safety also involves serving as an elected member of the Broward County School Board since 2018 and as chair for the past two years. Alhadeff and her husband live in Parkland, Florida, and have two other children, Robbie and Coby.


verlina reynolds-jacksonAssemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson ’94
Alumni Service Award

Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson received her Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Trenton State College in 1994 and further served her alma mater as a TCNJ Alumni Association board member for several years. She continued her education and earned a Master of Science in administration from Central Michigan University. She also became a New Jersey certified municipal finance officer through the Rutgers University School of Government Services and earned various urban planning certificates from the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority.

Reynolds-Jackson’s commitment to public service in Trenton and her career as a social worker led her to become the first African American female to serve in the elected position of East Ward councilwoman for the Trenton City Council. 

Reynolds-Jackson proudly served on the council for seven and a half years before being elected to the New Jersey Assembly seat in the 15th Legislative District. She is currently serving her fourth term in the New Jersey Assembly and serves as constituent outreach chair, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Public Schools, and vice-chairwoman of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. She also serves as a commissioner of the State of New Jersey Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission and of the Amistad Commission, and she is vice chair of the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus. 

For more than 10 years, her efforts have been dedicated to championing social justice causes, bolstering minority-, woman-, and veteran-owned businesses, improving access to quality healthcare, safeguarding our natural environment, and creating pathways for student success.

Reynolds-Jackson teaches public policy at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City and stays active in the community by serving on the board of directors of both the YWCA of Princeton and the United Way of Greater Mercer County. She enjoys time with her sisters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Trenton Alumnae Chapter and is also involved with The Links, NCNW, and a host of other civil rights organizations.  She resides in the capital city of Trenton with her husband, Lorenzo.


Alex SauickieAssemblyman Alex Sauickie ’93
Distinguished Alumni Award

Assemblyman Alex Sauickie earned his Bachelor of Science in business administration in 1993 from Trenton State College, where he played football for the Lions.

A lifelong resident of Jackson, Sauickie served on the Jackson Township Council from 2019 to 2022 and held the position of president in 2020. Since 2022, he has represented the 12th Legislative District as a member of the New Jersey General Assembly, with many of his bills signed into law during his first year in office. 

Sauickie has spent most of his private-sector career as a start-up and privately backed software company executive; he has a history of building successful companies, most recently serving as CEO of AdvicePay. He previously served as global head of wealth and retirement services for FIS and as president and CEO of CircleBlack. He has also held the positions of president and chief operating officer at prior companies. His many achievements include holding various financial services licenses, speaking at industry conferences, and being recognized for his leadership.

Sauickie served as chairman for what is now the Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus Foundation and also founded the nonprofit Chloe’s Causes in memory of his daughter. In 2010, the Kimball Medical Center Foundation recognized Sauickie and his wife, Maggie (’05), for their humanitarian work. He has served on various municipal boards and recently received the honor of being named to the Asbury Park Press/’s “Most Influential People for 2024” list in the area of community impact.

An avid marathoner and Ironman triathlete, Sauickie completed the 2023 Boston Marathon and earned the Abbott World Marathon Majors Six Star Medal for finishing all six major marathons. Sauickie is a proud father of five, and he and his wife live in Jackson.