Scholarship relieves financial burden on student’s family

Grace Merritt

2 min read

Elizabeth Stassen is acutely aware of the college costs facing her parents.

She knows they are not only shouldering the cost of her college education but will take on that of her younger brother when he heads off to college next year. On top of that, they will be paying for multiple surgeries to repair her brother’s cleft palate and cleft lip.

Knowing all this, Stassen was relieved to learn that she received the Victor Borge Music Scholarship and an honors scholarship this year.

“I feel so blessed to have these scholarships. It just takes the financial impact off my parents and off me,” she says.

Stassen, a sophomore from Glastonbury, Connecticut, explains that her family adopted her brother from China five years ago when he was 13. While in China, he was part of a clinical trial that partially repaired his cleft palate and cleft lip. But there is still work remaining to reconstruct his nose and facial structure, she says.

“We’re not trying to Americanize him. We’re doing this for his career, so he won’t be discriminated against and to kind of even the playing field,” Stassen says.

Stassen shares a special connection with her brother as she was also born with a cleft palate and adopted from China when she was a baby. They both have an older brother, Eric, who graduated from UConn in 2020.

Stassen, a vocalist and pianist, is pursuing a dual degree in music and applied mathematics. While she was in high school, she took voice lessons at UConn through the Jorgensen Outreach for Youth (JOY) program, which helped shape her presence as a performer.

She also plans to apply to the School of Business to take management or accounting classes to prepare her for a possible career in arts administration. She hopes to get a taste of the field this semester by working at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre on campus in house management.

Having contended with the ups and downs of the pandemic since her senior year of high school, she is relieved that UConn returned to in-person classes this spring.

“I’m so happy that we’re back in person. I think it just stimulates my learning better,” she says.

Stassen’s scholarship, the Victor Borge Music Scholarship, has supported dozens of students like her since it was first established at UConn in 1967.

“On behalf of the family, we’re honored that the legacy of Victor Borge is continuing to support talented, young individuals like Elizabeth and music in general,” says Borge’s grandson, Anders Victor Borge. “The scholarship was proudly established by my grandfather, who believed deeply in the power of education and music itself to connect people and make the world a better place.”

Find out more about how you can support students with a music scholarship.

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