University of Delaware
Pictured at the Celebration of Scholarship are (from left) Don Puglisi, Marichu Valencia, Jenna Byers, Mark DiStefano and President Patrick Harker.

Celebrating generosity

Donors, recipients honored at UD Celebration of Scholarship reception


2:22 p.m., May 16, 2013--On May 9, Clayton Hall was full of members of the University of Delaware community who reveled in the spirit of the annual Celebration of Scholarship. This event takes place each year to acknowledge and celebrate the generosity of undergraduate scholarship support at the University.

The event was hosted by President Patrick Harker, who spoke about the impact that each donor’s generosity has on UD students, and the University as a whole. 

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“Your generosity starts these students on a path to patronage — from beneficiary to benefactor,” remarked Harker on the inspiration the donors create to continue the circle of philanthropy and learning at the University for future generations. 

The event encouraged conversation and networking among the nearly 250 scholarship donors and recipients representing each college at the University.  Donors have the opportunity to share the stories behind the establishment of their scholarship, while students are able to express what their scholarship funding has allowed them to accomplish.

As part of the evening’s program, two students were invited to speak on behalf of all the gathered scholarship recipients.

Mark DiStefano was one of those students. He is a sophomore accounting and finance double major minoring in performance studies, history and management information systems and is a recipient of the Wachovia Scholars Award, funded by the Wells Fargo Regional Fund. DiStefano, who also is a UD Honors Program student, spoke graciously of his appreciation for his scholarship and emphasized the impact that these contributions have on the UD educational experience. 

“Your generosity allows students the opportunity to experience that high-quality education and for that, I am very grateful. You are enabling this institution to provide an excellent foundation for learning. God willing, success in the real world follows,” said DiStefano, regarding the donors in the room and his hopes for the future. 

Jenna Byers, a junior food and agribusiness marketing and management major with minors in economics and animal science, also spoke on behalf of scholarship recipients. Byers is a recipient of the Charles and Patricia Genuardi Scholarship and is the first person in her family to go to college. She reiterated the significance of scholarship gifts, thanking the contributors for believing and investing in the dedicated and hardworking students of UD. 

“Knowing that someone believes in you enough to invest so substantially in your education and in your future is a huge honor. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we, as students, will always be grateful for this opportunity,” said Byers, emphasizing the unforgettable impact of scholarships on undergraduate students.

After speeches from both students, Harker again took to the stage to present the 2013 President’s Award for Philanthropic Commitment to donors Don Puglisi and Marichu Valencia for their outstanding and widespread investments in UD. In 2011, the couple gave $1 million to create the Donald J. Puglisi Music Enrichment Fund, and at the event, announced their plan to invest an additional $1 million in the Department of Music as a challenge to encourage gifts from others. (Note that details of this challenge gift will be released in an upcoming UDaily article).

During his remarks, Puglisi reiterated that he views the couple’s gifts to UD as “an investment that yields a high rate of return.” Puglisi and Valencia were then treated to a surprise serenade of the University of Delaware Alma Mater by the UD Chorale. 

Harker concluded the evening by once again addressing the scholarship donors in attendance.

“I thank you for giving our students this irreplaceable gift — the chance to pursue their passions, to live their dreams and to be a transformative presence in the world.” 

Article by Emily Meussner

Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson

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