Scholarship Luncheon Gathers Students and Their Generous Supporters

As support grows for scholarships at Stevens, so does enthusiasm at the annual Scholarship Luncheon.

More than 100 people attended the 2019 gathering in April, including alumni and friends who support scholarships named for classes, individuals and families, sororities and fraternities, and affinity groups like STEP. They met with the students they support, plus campus leaders like President Farvardin.

Jennifer McDonough, who is the Vice President for the Division of Development and Alumni Engagement, served as the emcee, and she outlined how scholarships have an impact.

“Without scholarships, many of the students enrolled today would have had to pass on the opportunity to enroll at Stevens, no matter how much they deserve admission, or how eager they are to spend their formative college years at Castle Point,” McDonough said. “But because they received a scholarship, they can earn a Stevens degree and enter the world ready to become leaders and innovators.”

Currently, there are some 300 distinct scholarship funds at Stevens, whether term or endowed, and with funds named for classes, sororities and fraternities or affinity groups having potentially hundreds of donors every year. Many funds support multiple students in a given year.

During the past year, alumni and friends established 18 new scholarships, including the William W. Destler ’68 and Rebecca I. Johnson Endowed and Term Scholarship, the Jerome E. Granato MD ’75 Scholarship, Langan Engineering and Environmental Services Scholarship, and the Stevens Latin American Club Scholarship.

Additionally, since The Power of Stevens fundraising campaign began in 2013, the university has allocated donor support to create two major scholarship programs and one diversity initiative that provides scholarships. The Pinnacle Scholars program offers students opportunities to study abroad and to conduct research alongside faculty, plus a “cultural passport” to experience arts and events, and other support. The Clark Scholars program, established by the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation, offers robust opportunities to students who are underrepresented in the fields of engineering, computer science, and cybersecurity. Through the ACES initiative (Accessing Careers in Engineering and Science), Stevens provides scholarship support at the pre-college and undergraduate levels to opens doors to STEM education for students from underserved and underrepresented minority backgrounds.

At the luncheon, two students gave speeches about how scholarships have made an impact on their college experience. Sabiha Rahman ’22, a chemical engineering major, spoke about being part of the inaugural cohort of Clark Scholars. Dakota Van Deursen ’19, who is also a chemical engineering major, shared his experiences as part of the inaugural cohort of Pinnacle Scholars who enrolled in 2015-16.

Van Deursen has spent his time participating in the student government and other groups, conducting research with Professor Sunil Paliwal, and working as a member of the Castle Point Rocketry team. He also used his Pinnacle summer stipend to study in Thailand, Italy, and China.

“The past four years have been the most transformative, exciting, and motivating of my life,” said Van Deursen, who comes from Kansas City. “It wouldn’t have happened without the generosity of proud donors such as you. Thanks to your support in the form of scholarships, I have been able to fight cancer, see the world, and build a rocket. All right here at Stevens.”

Rahman told the story of how her parents emigrated from Bangladesh to create a new life for their children. A native of Queens, New York, she is looking forward to using her Clark Scholars stipend to study this summer in Costa Rica, and she hopes to use her Stevens experience to build a career in sustainable energy.

“Stevens provides a wonderful opportunity with its co-operative education program, and I hope to make full use of this by securing my first co-op in Spring 2020. Within five years at Stevens, not only will I have gained the best education, I will also have loads of experience from internships and will have established relationships with companies even before graduating.”

Among two scholarship donors who spoke, Tom Blum explained why his family supports the Donald J. Blum 1945 Endowed Scholarship, established in honor of Blum’s father. His grandfather, Joseph Blum, is a member of the Class of 1909.

“People often ask why my family supports Stevens,” said Blum. “Of course we support education. We’re a family of practical engineers, and we believe investments in Stevens will be very impactful.”

Joe Mitro ’73 M.Eng. ’80 spoke about supporting the Class of 1973 Endowed Scholarship. Mitro said that, despite having been away from campus for 35 years, in part because his engineering career took him abroad, he always remembered his days at Castle Point.

“Stevens is a place you can always leave, it’s a school you can graduate from, but it’s also an idea that stays with you forever,” Mitro said. “Stevens is an idea of hard work, practicality, aptitude, and most of all, optimism.”

As McDonough noted, scholarships will continue to be a critical need, especially as Stevens attracts increasing numbers of talented students. The current freshmen Class of 2022 is the largest and most diverse class in Stevens history, with an average SAT score of 1399. The university will continue to look to the generosity of alumni and friends who support the student success accomplished through scholarships, as was evident in the remarks heard from the guest speakers and from conversations around all the tables at the lunch.

See pictures from the 2019 Scholarship Luncheon on the Stevens Alumni Association Flickr page.

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