Life-Changing Opportunities Made Possible by Donor's Generosity
University of Delaware

From left to right: Martha Gilman, accepting the President’s Award for Philanthropic Commitment of behalf of her late mother, Muriel; Dr. Harker; and J. Rachel McCulley, Recipient of the swank Human Services Disabilities Studies Scholarship.

Life-Changing Opportunities Made Possible by Donor's Generosity

Past and present recipients of the Plastino Scholars awards recently gathered to recognize the outgoing 2010 scholars and the incoming 2011 class. They were joined by proud faculty members, parents, and the donor of the awards.

Established in 2007 by a generous gift from Dave Plastino, a 1978 graduate of the University of Delaware's College of Arts and Sciences, the Plastino Scholars awards provide resources for students to develop an independent study in an area of personal interest.  According to Plastino, “These awards give students a chance to discover their own passions.  It takes a self-motivated individual, but everyone at UD has the opportunity to become a Plastino Scholar.”

One such motivated student is Chris Kerwien, sophomore from Wilmington, Del. A 2011 Plastino Scholar, Kerwien is planning to travel to India for the summer to work as an intern for Promethean Power to study their solar-powered refrigeration technology and its impact on the developing world.

“It was very humbling to get this opportunity,” says Kerwien, who currently does research at the University’s Institute for Energy Conversion. “It will be a huge experience, and I am really looking forward to it.  I am so grateful to have this chance.”

Program director Patricia Sloane-White said, “Dave Plastino gave a gift to UD to start this program because he believed he could create transformation and engagement for students.  It has had an even greater reach than that, because it has transformed everyone who is touched by the program.  The lives these students impact, both abroad and here at UD, have been changed for the better by the overwhelmingly positive and powerful force of this program.”

“The most meaningful part about the Plastino experience for me was traveling the world by myself and experiencing the culture,” says Liza Melms, a 2010 Plastino Scholar from Madison, Wis., who traveled to Egypt and Indonesia to study the Islamic headscarf and its role in women’s lives.  “Mr. Plastino totally changed my life, and I hope I can make this kind of impact on someone else.”

Melms, an international relations major in the UD Honors Program, says she feels honored to be part of such a prestigious group of students. “Just looking around this room, you know everyone else here is going somewhere,” she says.  “It is special to be part of it, and you know when you look back that this will be a defining moment in your life.”

Learn more about the 2011 Plastino Scholars.