September 24, 2020

Single mom Ivy Kellenberger of Sussex recognized with $2,500 award for academic excellence and persistence in pursuing a college education.

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ, Sept. 24, 2020—Centenary University senior Ivy Kellenberger has been awarded a $2,500 Belle Ella Boutique Empowerment Scholarship from Bella Ella Boutique, a Utah-based online women’s boutique. The scholarship recognizes college women who have overcome adversity to pursue their dreams through higher education.

A resident of Sussex, N.J., Kellenberger is a 20-year-old single mother who left a physically and emotionally abusive relationship to make a better life for herself and her daughter. At Centenary, she is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Education—English with special education certification to prepare for a teaching career.

Kellenberger became pregnant at 17 while enrolled at Sussex County Technical School. Despite a difficult pregnancy, the honor student graduated a year early with a 4.2 grade point average and 12 college credits and enrolled at Sussex County Community College. She endured two hospitalizations before her daughter’s birth, but still finished her first college semester with all A’s. “That was very, very empowering for me,” said Kellenberger, a first-generation college student. “No one believed in me in high school. They told me I was crazy trying to do this with a baby on my hip.”

After earning her associate degree with high honors, Kellenberger enrolled at Centenary University, where she received the Harry Strickhausen Endowed Memorial Scholarship. Named for a late beloved Centenary professor, the award recognizes an outstanding student who studies English at the University. “I’ve always loved the ability to pick up a book and go to a different world,” Kellenberger said. “The field of teaching will allow me to share this world with students, letting them know there’s a whole other world out there. I can’t say how much that saved me while I was in high school and community college.”

Dr. Sharon Decker, Chair of the Centenary University Humanities Department, said, “Ivy is a wonderful role model for both her daughter and other students. She will fill future classrooms with energy and passion, and no doubt inspire her students to love literature.”

Today, Kellenberger draws inspiration from her young daughter and wants to provide educational opportunities for a new generation of students. “Watching my daughter learn has allowed me to see the beauty of knowledge in all its colors and all its realms,” she explained. “As a human, and as a woman, and as a mother, I find it really empowering that I can own my educational path. Education has granted me a future I never thought possible.”


Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix provides an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. The University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township. The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs in Parsippany, as well as online and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.

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