Honoring Two Professors Who Transform Lives

Professor Dorothy Rogers, Chairperson, Philosophy and Religion Department, Tayler-Benfield Scholar Misbahul Fatima, Steven Resnick, Esq. ’93 and Marilyn Tayler, Professor, Political Science and Law

Steven Resnick, Esq. ’93 came to Montclair State as a mature student and found an institution that would change his life forever. “The affordable tuition allowed me to attend college, and the faculty there was accessible, cared, and served as the mentors that I needed, with Dr. David Benfield and Dr. Marilyn Tayler leading the way,” he says.

Steven credits the pre-law studies program at Montclair State with providing him the skills to gain admission to and succeed in law school and beyond. He completed his BA in three and a half years, graduating magna cum laude. He went on to earn his JD from Rutgers School of Law. Today, Steven is a shareholder of Budd Larner, P.C., in Short Hills, New Jersey and a member of the firm’s Family Law Department. He regularly appears in family courts across New Jersey.

Steven established the Tayler-Benfield Scholarship as a meaningful and lasting tribute to his esteemed professors and to assist deserving pre-law students. “There was no better way to thank Montclair State, Dr. Tayler, and Dr. Benfield than to give scholarships in their names to students financially in need with the drive to excel and achieve their dreams,” he says. The Tayler-Benfield Scholarship has already transformed the lives of two outstanding pre-law students.

“There are those among us who are fortunate to have the resources and the mentors in their lives that allow them to achieve success,” adds Steven. “For others who lack the financial resources or mentors, achieving their potential seems unreachable and the overall path much tougher. I can say firsthand that the road to college was tough. The level of frustration was at times unbearable and left me wondering whether I could succeed. And then, I discovered Montclair State.  Twenty years later, I have led a very productive and successful life, and have surpassed my wildest dreams. I just argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court, an honor enjoyed by very few lawyers in a career.”

“Counselor Resnick has made all his teachers proud with his remarkable legal accomplishments in the emerging area of Family law and Children’s Rights,” says Dr. David Benfield, who is a professor of Philosophy and Religion. “His generous endowment of the Tayler-Benfield Scholarship has already enabled two deserving students to apply to law school and will enable many others in the future.  It is an incredible joy to be honored in this way.”

“I was immensely touched to know that a former student felt such gratitude to name a scholarship in our honor while we are still alive and teaching!” says Marilyn Tayler, professor of Political Science and Law. “Each year it continues to be a joy to select the very special winner of the award. The Tayler-Benfield Scholarship provides a substantial motivation to excellence for our students,” she adds. “The best testimonial for the award is our current Tayler-Benfield Scholar recipient, Misbahul Fatima.”

Misbahul is the first woman in her family to attend a four-year college. “I have been working since the age of sixteen because my mom is a stay-at-home parent and my dad works three jobs to provide for the family,” she shares. “It is only because of the Tayler-Benfield Scholarship and the Montclair State Scholars program and that I was able to attend a four-year college. I am very thankful.”

Misbahul is a double major in English and Jurisprudence with a minor in philosophy and an impressive 3.98 GPA. An Elmwood Park resident, she will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in May 2014. She speaks five languages, including fluent Hindi.

“I was worried about how I would pay my tuition for the senior year and afford all the extra expenses for LSAT prep courses and law school applications, even though I work at three different jobs,” says Misbahul. “Mr. Resnick’s charitable donation helped me find a way to pay for my journey to law school.”

Misbahul already has been accepted at a number of top law schools, including Fordham, Cardozo, Seton Hall, and Rutgers, all of which have offered her merit-based scholarships.

She recently interned for the Honorable Judge Bonnie Mizdol of the Bergen County Superior Court through Montclair State University’s pre-law internship program. As a result of her work there, she has been nominated for a summer internship program at the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. In addition, Professor Sheila O’Shea, professor of Legal Research at Montclair State, recognized Misbahul’s passion for the law and offered her the position of a legal intern at her law firm, Deutsch and Atkins.

Misbahul has been actively involved in Montclair’s Pre-Law Society for three years and has held the position of Vice President for four consecutive semesters. She holds the same position for the National Phi Alpha Delta Law Society. She also is a member of the English Advisory Committee, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the Golden Key Society.

She has been recognized for her achievements in the Political Science and Law department.  She serves as the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) Level II tutor for Montclair’s Legal Research courses. In addition, Misbahul has been on the Dean’s List throughout her four years at Montclair State and was also part of the Dean of Students’ Winners Circle in 2013. 

“Mr. Resnick stays in touch to make sure my path to law school leads to success,” adds Misbahul. “His continued support pushes me to not only seek his advice but also gain confidence in my decision to attend law school. I owe my success to Mr. Resnick.”

Steven also gives back to his alma mater as a member of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Advisory Board and this year’s Annual Scholarship Dinner Committee. In addition, he was an adjunct professor at Montclair State, teaching a Family Law and Legal Writing course.

Have you thought about your own educational legacy at Montclair State? Contact Ely Santoni at 973-655-7298 or santonituere@mail.montclair.edu for more information. To make an immediate impact in students’ lives, make your gift today.

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