Angelo DeFazio, president and CEO of Arrow Pharmacy & Nutrition Centers, and medical student Fludiona Naka, a graduate of Hartford’s Bulkeley High School, will star in a statewide campaign promoting the UConn Foundation’s Transform Lives initiative to raise $150 million for scholarships and fellowships.
Since the Transform Lives initiative launched in 2015, the UConn Foundation raised more than $54 million for scholarships and fellowships.
DeFazio, a graduate of the UConn School of Pharmacy, and Naka will be featured in spots on National Public Radio beginning Feb. 8. The recurring segments will run for a six-week period. Both are enthusiastic about sharing their stories on NPR and encouraging others to give back to UConn.
“Philanthropy is unbelievably important,” said DeFazio. “Giving back is not an obligation. It’s a responsibility!”
DeFazio, of Canton, is a first-generation Italian-American raised in Danbury, where he maintains strong ties to the community. He helped put himself through UConn working as a garbage collector in greater Danbury before becoming the first in his family to graduate from college. He opened his first pharmacy in 1989 in Hartford.
Today, Arrow Pharmacy is the largest independent pharmacy chain in greater Hartford. In 2003, DeFazio endowed a scholarship for students with financial need at the School of Pharmacy. DeFazio serves on the UConn Foundation Board of Directors.
“Receiving a scholarship to attend UConn School of Medicine completely changed my life and so I am very excited to share my transformation story with NPR,” said Naka.
Naka is in her third year at the UConn School of Medicine, where she is pursuing her MD and MPH degrees. Highly accomplished, Naka has won the U.S. Presidential Volunteer Service Award and serves as the elected national secretary of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA). Naka was inspired to enter medicine by the doctor who visited her village in Albania. When her family moved to Hartford 10 years ago, Naka learned English and sought mentorship for a path to higher education through UConn Health’s high school outreach programs. She was awarded a full scholarship to attend the School of Medicine through UConn Health’s Health Careers Opportunity Program.
“Scholarships have the power to transform lives and make dreams a reality for students like Fludiona Naka,” said Joshua R. Newton, president and CEO of the UConn Foundation. “We are grateful to alumni like Angelo DeFazio and others for their extraordinary generosity and investment in UConn’s students.”
Scholarships and fellowships assist students across UConn’s undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. 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.
UConn recently announced plans to award $5,000 scholarships to students who enroll at UConn through the New Haven Promise and Hartford Promise programs, starting fall 2016. The Promise programs provide scholarship support and encouragement to students in New Haven and Hartford public and charter schools who earn strong academic records, maintain high attendance, and contribute public service in their communities.