April 2015

Nearing Graduation, a Student Reflects on Impact of Scholarships

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

2 min read

Trayvonn Diaz ’15 (CLAS), a scholarship recipient, UConn Foundation student director, resident assistant, and National Residence Hall Honorary Secretary of Finance, reflects on his four years at UConn.

When I first visited campus, I remember being intimidated by the size of the campus and the number of classes and buildings, but I saw it as a new experience, a new start to a better future.

The Leadership Scholarship I received shortly after being accepted was a strong motivator in my decision to commit to UConn. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to participate in activities around campus, such as concert performances, bus trips to New York City and Boston, my coed community service fraternity, local charity races, or other experiences that helped me enjoy the overall UConn experience. Not to mention that I would have struggled to purchase the textbooks I needed for required courses in my major.

The best experiences I’ve had at UConn have always involved the amazing people I have met during my time here. I can vividly remember my friends teaching me to ice skate and how much trouble I had standing—I remember I felt so accomplished when I could finally complete a lap without falling! And as a resident assistant, I have great memories of meeting new students and helping them transition to a new environment.

After graduation, I plan to start a career where I can use the skills I’ve learned over the past four years that will allow me to get a feel for real-world business. After gaining some applicable experience, I plan to go to law school—UConn Law is, of course, my first choice—to study corporate or real estate law. Law school is where I really see myself developing and understanding the path I intend to follow.

These may seem like big dreams to some, but they’re even bigger dreams in my family, considering I am soon to be a first-generation college graduate. I see myself as taking the first step in helping our family raise future generations of college graduates.

In working with the Foundation, I’ve grown to understand the importance of giving back, how invested our alumni are in the students and the university, and how scholarships change lives. I give back through participating in community service efforts, making small donations to student-run organizations, fundraising for UConn causes, mentoring incoming students, and even sacrificing Friday nights to drive students home safely.

The scholarship support I received has inspired me to give back in a similar way. I’ve seen more than a few friends leave the university, either permanently or temporarily, simply because they cannot afford the rising cost of college. I can’t help all struggling students, but if I can help a few, then I can impact their life for the better.

 

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Fludi: A UConn School of Medicine Portrait

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
Jennifer Doak-Mathewson

< 1 min read

Fludiona Naka, a second-year MD/MPH student, received a full-tuition scholarship through the Health Careers Opportunity Program. She spoke at the Sixth Annual White Coat Gala to benefit UConn Health on April 25, 2015.

“I am here today because of people like you, who have extended their kindness to me,” Naka told the 800-plus crowd. “Receiving this scholarship has forever changed my life. Because of your efforts and generosity, so much financial burden has been lifted from my family’s shoulders.” Watch Naka’s video for an inside look at what it takes to be a medical student at the UConn School of Medicine.

The UConn Foundation has kicked off its “Transforms Lives’’ campaign, a five-year, fundraising initiative that will double the amount of financial support—including merit and need-based scholarships—that the Foundation raises for the benefit of the UConn student body.

 

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RELEASE: Zwick Center Gets Half-Million-Dollar Boost

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Jack Kramer

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Gift will fund agricultural studies in Connecticut

Charles Zwick
Charles Zwick.

The University of Connecticut’s Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy Board has received an additional $500,000 gift from its founder.

Dr. Charles Zwick, and his wife Barbara, came to UConn this week to take part in a celebration ceremony at the UConn Foundation.

Dr. Zwick started the Food and Resource Policy Center five years ago with a generous $1 million gift.

Dr. Zwick said he will be giving $100,000 a year, for the next five years, so the center can continue its work.’’ That drew loud applause from the gathering of UConn, UConn Foundation, state officials – and farmers, who attended the celebration ceremony.

“We are looking to see impact from the center’s research,’’ said Dr. Zwick. “The world is changing fast and we need to have clear data to guide us in how we use and distribute valuable resources.’’

The funds will be used by UConn’s College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources to conduct agricultural policy studies.

Department of Agriculture Commissioner Steven Reviczky, who was in attendance, said the Zwick Center has been “immensely important to farming and agriculture’’ to the state of Connecticut.

The center and the work it does, Reviczky said, “provides farmers the tools necessary to maintain the community and quality of life we have in our state.’’

Dean and Director of the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources Gregory Weidemann said, in large part due to Dr. Zwick, “The Center has fulfilled its promise.’’

“There is often a time delay between seeing a need and having the necessary funding to address that need,’’ said Weidemann. “This has allowed us to be much more responsive.’’

Speakers at the celebration ceremony noted that the funding has allowed the Zwick Center to tackle topical subjects in an expeditious manner, such as childhood obesity.

Dr. Zwick’s initial gift, five years ago, came at a most fortuitous time for the department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

The federal funding that had supported the long-standing and successful Food Marketing Policy Center was being phased out due to the elimination of the federal Special Grant Program.

At the same time, Dr. Zwick was considering possible gift opportunities for his alma mater. Given his long history in policy development at RAND and in federal government, creating a new center that built upon the previous center seemed a natural fit. Fortunately for UConn, Dr. Zwick saw this as an opportunity as well and made an investment to establish the Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy.

The Center is driven by excellence in quantitative and policy oriented economic research on problems confronting food and energy markets, the use of natural resources, and the environment.

The intent is to provide practical recommendations to improve the functioning of markets and related government policies and to advance and disseminate knowledge that impacts public policies to improve society’s welfare. Signature programs include policies related to food marketing and industrial organization, environmental and natural resources economics, and economic development.

Key users include private firms, consumer and nonprofit organizations, scholars, public agencies, and policy makers.

 

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2015 Crowdfunding Campaign Ignites Student Philanthropy

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Teaching UConn students the importance of philanthropy is the goal of HuskyDrive’s Ignite campaign.

The recent conclusion of the current campaign, now in its third year, proves the program is working.

More than $34,000 was raised in this year’s campaign. There were 1,644 donors—1,166 were student and young alumni donors.

The top three teams this year with the highest number of student and young alumni donors were:

1st place: Asian-American Cultural Center’s Pan-Asian Council, 275 donors

2nd place: Community Outreach, 234 donors

3rd place: UConn Marching Band, 140 donors

Josh Newton, president and CEO of the UConn Foundation, said the importance of Ignite is that “it engages students in the philanthropic process. Ignite teaches students that they can give to areas that they care about—that is their passion.”

Newton added that as state aid for education to UConn has been “cut in half” over the past two decades, it has only shined a brighter light on “the history and tradition that philanthropy has played at UConn.”

HuskyDrive’s Ignite campaign—recognized as one of the best in the country by Evertrue, an organization that applies social media analytics to nonprofit fundraising—brings students together to raise money for their favorite UConn causes. Students learn about marketing and fundraising over the course of several weeks. Using the Foundation’s online giving platform, participants mobilize fellow students as well as alumni, family, and friends for support.

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School of Business Alumnus Gives to Make College Accessible to All

Jennifer Doak-Mathewson
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< 1 min read

UConn alumnus Dan Toscano says the best part about giving to scholarships is seeing the blossoming that can happen to a student during his or her college career. “You see a career start to play out, and it started with a good foundation,” he said in a segment that will play on Connecticut NPR stations from April 20 through Memorial Day weekend.

Listen to Toscano’s NPR segment on SoundCloud

Toscano (’87 BUS), a UConn Foundation board member and resident of Darien, Conn., established the Joseph P. and Rose M. Toscano Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Santos and Patricia Mercado Memorial Scholarship with his wife, Tresa. Both scholarships are need-based and support students in the School of Business.

“We created these scholarships [because] we believe that helping to make college accessible to all students—especially those who didn’t come from wealthy backgrounds—can impact a family for generations,” said Toscano. “I’m thrilled to report that the fund has already helped a young man from Bridgeport become the first person in his family to graduate from college. He now has a good job as an accountant in Connecticut.”

Toscano, along with the other members of the board of directors, recently endorsed a five-year, $150 million fundraising initiative to double the amount of support the Foundation raises for scholarships and fellowships.

“Several students say, ‘I could never pay you back for this,’ and I say there’s nothing to pay back,” said Toscano. “You need to pay it forward.”

 

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RELEASE: UConn Alumnus Featured in Statewide Campaign to Promote Scholarships

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WNPR spots part of effort to double amount raised over next five years

Storrs, Conn. – A Darien business executive and University of Connecticut alumnus is featured in a new series of National Public Radio advertisements promoting an effort to substantially increase scholarships and the number of students receiving them at UConn.

The reoccurring segments, featuring Dan Toscano, begin April 20 and will run for a six-week period. They describe how scholarships have helped transformed thousands of students’ lives.

[Listen to Dan Toscano’s NPR segment on SoundCloud]

The Board of Directors of the UConn Foundation, of which Toscano is a member, recently endorsed a five-year, $150 million fundraising initiative that will double the amount of financial support that the Foundation raises for the benefit of the UConn student body.

Foundation President Josh Newton said the funds, which will include merit and need-based scholarships, will be necessary to ensure that financial aid is available for a student body that is expected to grow over the next decade.

“As UConn adds students, the need for more financial aid will only increase,” Newton said. “I think philanthropy can and will play an increasingly important role in keeping UConn affordable and accessible. Dan and his wife Tresa are great ambassadors in this effort, spreading our message of trying to help as many students as we can.’’

Toscano said, “Several years ago my wife and I established two scholarships for students at UConn. Both scholarships are need-based and one is for someone of Latino origin. We created these scholarships for two basic reasons,’’ said Toscano.

“First, we believe that helping to make college accessible to all students—especially those who don’t come from wealthy backgrounds—can impact a family for generations,’’ said Toscano. “I’m thrilled to report that the fund has already helped a young man from Bridgeport become the first person in his family to graduate from college. He now has a good job as an accountant, in Connecticut.’’

The University offers aid to more than 10,000 students each 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 students, but it will also combat student debt levels after graduation,” said Newton. “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.

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