From the UConn Foundation's Our Moment newsletter (June-July 2012)
Ron Steblea '88 '90It's probably fair to say that most people who are working on their doctorate in Irish Literature don't end up helping to bring Perfect Meatloaf™ or the Snuggie™ to the public's attention. However, his UConn education and experience indirectly helped Ron Steblea '88 '90 (member, UConn Alumni Association) to do exactly that.
As the president of Allstar Marketing Group, Steblea is leading a team responsible for these and dozens of other successful products. He was helped along by the influence of several professors at UConn, support that he is now paying forward through the establishment of a scholarship fund for English majors.
"When I first attended UConn, I was really all over the place. Academics were not my main area of focus. I changed majors several times, and while I ended up with a bachelor's in economics, I took a lot of English classes along the way, since that was my first interest," he recalls. "However, in my last two years at UConn, I really focused on my work and was guided by Professors Jean Marsden and David Benson into the master's program in English after graduation."
That step took him next to New York City, where he began a doctoral program in Irish literature, and took a job in the catalog business on the side. The economy made his goal of teaching unrealistic, so his entry into catalog marketing began and eventually brought him to Allstar, which he joined nine years ago. He has helped successfully transform the business as it moved into television markets, bringing its products to millions.
He has never forgotten the UConn professors who inspired him and helped steer him toward graduation.
"They really helped me out, and gave me a second chance after my first two years," he says. "There's this notion that UConn is a big school, but I found that once I was in my core English curriculum, I had a small school experience, with a lot of personal attention," he says.
When Steblea considered giving back to support his alma mater, he thought back to his UConn experience for inspiration. The Steblea Family Scholarship supports undergraduate English majors with demonstrated academic achievement and financial need.
"I remember how much I struggled financially in grad school. There were a lot of times when just a little bit of support would have helped a lot. I love the school," he adds. "As I've started donating to different organizations, I've come to think about my experience at UConn and have realized that it's an institution that I trust. I think I've come to appreciate my UConn experience more than I ever imagined I would have at the time."
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