UNION–On Sunday, Nov. 18, a sun-drenched Harwood Arena atrium filled with smiles from both youthful and mature faces as Kean University Foundation staff welcomed attendees for the 2012/2013 Scholarship Recognition Ceremony.
Meeting and thanking their scholarship donors is a requirement for Kean University scholarship recipients. Accordingly, students and their loved ones mingled with donors during the luncheon in the arena auditorium. Kean University’s educational mission is spotlighted during this annual event, as is the importance of generous donors who fund scholarships. This year, 270 students received privately funded scholarships, relieving some of the financial worries of their education in favor of unburdened focus on study.
Kean University President Dawood Y. Farahi spoke at the ceremony, affirming his commitment to a successful student body. “People who reach their goals go to sleep and wake up happy,” he said.
During his portion of the program, Farahi commended Be the Change, a campus organization dedicated to public service and volunteerism. Be the Change students “rolled up their sleeves to do something great,” said Farahi, when they spent time at the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy to help residents clear out damaged homes. While working in Union Beach, one of the Be the Change students recognized Patricia Oviatt, a Kean student who had lost her house. Oviatt is now the recipient of a Be the Change Scholarship to help her complete her studies at Kean.
In another part of the world, Kean’s first Wenzhou Scholar, Alison DiGiacomo, checked in in a pretaped video from Kean’s pilot program in Zhejiang Province, China. DiGiacomo testified to how her scholarship had allowed her to fulfill two goals simultaneously: studying abroad, and traveling to China. “This is an awesome opportunity. I’m very thankful that my dream has been fulfilled while I’m still at Kean,” she said.
Director of Scholarship Services Brian Treanor ’97 introduced Elizabeth McColgan Music Scholar Baejoon Lee, who performed “Beautiful Dreamer” as a musical interlude. Lee, a Korean immigrant who found it difficult to pursue his own dreams in his homeland, is a phenomenally talented vocalist whose teachers have forecasted a brilliant career in the world of classical music and opera. His scholarship donor, Elizabeth McColgan, and her husband Edward were on hand to watch his performance with great pride.
Biotechnology student and Donald R. Conklin Scholarship recipient Ramanpreet Kaur was the featured student speaker. Kaur, a native of India, related her struggle to overcome gender discrimination in her homeland and within her extended family here. “Expectations for success were not the same for me as they were for my male cousins,” she stated. But the promising Kean scholar did not let that interfere with her aspirations. Instead of allowing cultural bias to form a barrier, she transformed it into a motivating factor to achieve her goals with the help of Kean’s New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics (NJCSTM). “I am lucky to have the Kean community as a source of support,” she told the audience.
Kean University Foundation Board Chair Steve Fastook spoke of the record 900 applications for scholarships received and evaluated by the Foundation this year. The scholarship program “goes to the heart of the Foundation’s mission by actively removing barriers that otherwise stand between outstanding, talented students and a Kean University education,” he said. “It is one of our core principles that, besides being excellent, the education we provide be accessible to any student meeting our standards for admission.”
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