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Meet Our Scholarship Recipients

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2024 Dr. SRG Scholarship Recipient 

Ydalis Cedeño
une 2024
Nazareth University

Dedication and passion has defined Ydalis Cedeño's dance journey. At the age of three, she attended her cousin's dance recital and was captivated by the performance. From that moment on, Ydalis knew she wanted to be a dancer. With each passing year, her love for performing grew along with the thrill of taking the stage. Her teachers' lessons in commitment and determination shaped her path. Despite challenges in perfecting technique and learning new choreography, these moments fueled her passion and personal growth. For Ydalis, dance is more than a hobby, it's a lnaguage that allows her to convey empotions and tell stories beyond words. 

Looking to the future, she is excited to continue studying dance, strengthening her foundation, and expanding her knowledge of different styles. Most importantly, she aims to use her passion to positively impact the world of dance. 

Ydalis' dance journey has transformed her, and she is grateful for every moment that led her here. With each step on stage, every class attended, and every challenge overcome, she knows she is one step closer to achieving her goals. She will attend Nazareth University in the fall where she will earn a Bachelor of Dance Studies. 

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2022 Dr. SRG Scholarship Recipient 

Aryana Ruiz
June 2022
Rutgers Mason Gross

Aryana Ruiz is a senior at Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy. She will be attending Rutgers' Mason Gross School of the Arts as a dance major in the fall. While she aspires to one day see her name in lights on Broadway, she also wants to bring dance to all people, by travelling and teaching.


Aryana hopes to inspire people who may not look like the stereotypical dancer.  She wants to inspire people of all shapes, sizes, and abilities. Her love of dance was introduced to her, and fostered, by each of her various teachers along the way, and hopes to become a dance teacher herself, so that she can continue in their tradition, and become that role model for a new generation of dancers, and for many generations to come.  

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Inaugural  Dr. SRG Scholarship Recipient 

Diamond Cintron
June 2020
Kean University

Now a sophomore in college, Diamond graduated from Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy in June of 2020. She received a scholarship from the Dr. Shannon Reilly Gutches Memorial Fund. This scholarship brought some light into her life after her father passed away in April of 2020 due to Covid. Times were difficult, but the scholarship was a great blessing.


Diamond currently attends Union County College and will transfer to Kean University to finish her degree. She majors in criminal justice and minors in forensic science. She would love to one day be a crime scene investigator. Diamond says, "I'm so thankful I was awarded a scholarship to start my journey in my education."

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2023 Dr. SRG Scholarship Recipient 

Steven Echeverria
une 2023
Kean University

Steven Echeverria is an 18 year old senior at Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy. Steven has always enjoyed dancing since he was little. Although he never had the opportunity to dance at an actual studio, he remembers how he always loved the feeling of moving around and the feeling of performing. Steven loves dancing! It is one of his passions. He aspires to one day be a physician's assistant and will be majoring in Biology with a Healthcare Track at Kean University in the fall. 


Although he will be pursuing a career in the medical field, Steven doesn't want his passion for dance to die, so he aspires to one day open a small dance studio of his own and be able to inspire attendants to be great dancers, or maybe even great role models. Steven wants his studio to be the kind of studio that is a second home to its dancers, just like the stage has become a second home to him.

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2021 Dr. SRG Scholarship Recipients

Katherine and Natalia Romero-Salazar
June 2021

These twin dancers moved to Elizabeth at a very young age and have been in the Elizabeth Public School System since Kindergarten. They have struggled with Reading Comprehension throughout their academic career, which led to anxiety and depression but they always relied on one another to persevere.


When they started high school they both were driven to try something new and chose to pursue dance.  Dance offered them an avenue to really express their feelings and learn to not be shy about getting in front of crowd. Their mother has continuously supported the girls in their decision as she was an artist herself. With no previous dance training, they were inspired by their dance teachers to be the force they are today.  With natural born lines and a sense of balance and musicality, they can create with ease and inspire their peers.  


Natalia hopes to go on to work in the Technical Field and  Katherine hopes to one day work as a Veterinarian Both girls plan to continuing to dancing as they pursue their future education and careers.  They feel dance helped them step out of their comfort zone, learn to be their own person, and communicate without fear or worry.  These two are a true example of how performing arts can change and shape a person to be the best version of themselves.

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