Neag Students Reflect on the Impact of Alumni Scholarship

Neag School of Education Alumni Society President Lou Ando (pictured on the right) gathers with Hiba Sarfraz and Brooke Mazzarella during the Honors Celebration where they were recognized for the scholarship.
Neag School of Education Alumni Society President Lou Ando (pictured on the right) gathers with Hiba Sarfraz and Brooke Mazzarella during the Honors Celebration where they were recognized for the scholarship.

Through UConn’s Neag School of Education, individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree and who are interested in teaching can earn in one year a master’s degree and teaching certification through our accelerated, full-time Teacher Certification Program for College Graduates (TCPCG). Thanks to Neag Alumni Scholarship support, two new students join the program this summer. 

Brooke Mazzarella is starting in TCPCG at UConn’s Greater Hartford location, focusing on secondary English. She is a former paraprofessional in the Clinton Public Schools and a member of the whale enrichment team at Mystic Aquarium. Hiba Sarfraz also begins this summer, focusing on biology at the Greater Hartford location. Sarfraz previously served as a reading/math tutor and special education paraprofessional at East Windsor Middle School.

Q: What does receiving the Neag Alumni Scholarship mean to you? 

BM: It is such an honor to be awarded the Neag Alumni Scholarship. I’m jumping back into school after being out of the game for 11 years. Being awarded the scholarship gave me confidence in knowing I can do this. It’s exactly where I want to be and will allow me to achieve my goals.

HB: This scholarship is a great honor for me. It is a symbol of my hard work and dedication, showing that the efforts paid off. It is also a huge help toward my fee bill since I will be depending on loans to complete my master’s program. It will allow me to pursue my career and help with my family’s financial responsibilities.

Q: What are your plans for the scholarship?

BM: I will use the scholarship to help offset the cost of school. Attending school full time means I will not have a steady income, so any help is greatly appreciated.

HB: My plans for this scholarship are to apply it towards my fee bill and help pay for my master’s program. It lowers the amount that I have to take in loans and reduces my burden while attending school.

Q: How will the scholarship help you achieve your goals?

BM: The scholarship has alleviated some of my financial stress of returning to school. The scholarship will allow me to stay focused on school. It is also a great reminder of why I am here. This education will give me the tools to obtain my dream job as a teacher, which will in turn give me the life I want for me and my kids.

HB: This scholarship will help me achieve my goals by providing me financial assistance so I can focus solely on my program instead of thinking about my student loans. It is removing a huge barrier off my shoulders, thus making it easier to obtain my education.

Q: What are your plans after graduation and why do you want to pursue that field?

BM: My plan after graduating next May is to secure a job as a high school or middle school English teacher. I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing. I want to spark the imagination of my students by allowing them to get lost in a novel or express themselves through prose.  

HB: After graduation, my plan is to apply for positions related to my content area of teaching. I want to pursue this field because teaching is my passion and science is my background. I have many years of experience working in a school setting with students, which has made this an affirmative decision.

Thank you to all of those who have supported students like Brooke and Hiba. We greatly appreciate your support with helping our future educators! Do you want to make a difference? Please join us and make a gift today! Visit the link for the Neag Alumni Society Endowed Scholarship Fund. For more information, please contact Heather McDonald at or 860-486-4530. To learn more about the Neag School’s TCPCG program, visit