RELEASE: Hall H.S. Valedictorian Stars in Conn. Scholarship Campaign

WNPR spots part of effort to double amount raised for scholarships over next 5 years

Jan. 20—The co-valedictorian of Hall high School’s 2013 class is about to gain statewide recognition as part of the UConn Foundation’s efforts to raise $150 million over the next five years for scholarships and fellowships. Ashwini Joshi, a sophomore studying biomedical engineering at UConn, will be featured on WNPR radio spots beginning Feb. 2. The reoccurring segments will run for a six-week period and describe how scholarships have helped to transform Ms. Joshi’s life.

“I was surprised and thrilled that I was selected for this important cause,” said Joshi. “Scholarships have helped me to afford a college education and I hope that by telling people about their importance, I will inspire others to donate to students like myself.”

After graduating from Hall, Joshi was awarded the Stamps Leadership Scholarship, entitling her to full scholarship support to attend UConn, as well as funding for enrichment activities, including summer research projects, national conferences, international travel and study. The funding enabled Joshi to study in France and pursue volunteer and research opportunities at UConn, as opposed to searching for work.

Over the past five years, the UConn Foundation has raised an average of $15.6 million annually for student support—including scholarships like the kind Joshi earned. In total the University offers aid to more than 10,000 students each year year. The new initiative calls for the Foundation to increase the amount raised for scholarships, fellowships and assistantships to $30 million annually.

“The Foundation’s initiative will not only help UConn attract and retain students like Ms. Joshi, but also combat student debt levels after graduation,” said Josh Newton, President of the UConn Foundation. “Right now 83-percent of UConn undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. Scholarships truly are transforming lives.”

The average student loan debt at UConn for 2013 graduates was $24,600 – nearly 20 percent lower than the national average ($30,000) for students at private and public institutions.

“Being able to graduate from UConn without incurring a lot of debt is a dream come true and will help me pursue my career goal of becoming a doctor,” said Ms. Joshi.

Coleman B. Levy, a West Hartford resident, is Chairman of the Board of the UConn Foundation. “Our mission at the Foundation is to ensure that UConn not only remains competitive with other nationally ranked universities, but that we are a leader in terms of affordability and accessibility. The marketing campaign will play an important role in raising awareness and motivating people to give.”

The Foundation’s student support initiative comes at a time when UConn has risen dramatically in stature. It currently ranks No. 19 on the U.S. News & World Report list of the nation’s top public research universities. Investment in facilities and faculty has played a key role in UConn’s ascent, enabling the University to attract greater numbers of high-caliber students. In recent years, each incoming freshman class has exceeded the previous one in academic accomplishment. This year’s freshman class has an average SAT score of 1234, the highest in UConn history.

Last year the UConn Foundation received philanthropic gifts and commitments totaling $81.1 million, a 23 percent increase over the preceding year and the highest level of giving in the 50-year history of the UConn Foundation.