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2018 Stars of Stony Brook Gala raises $2.1 million for scholarships

Gala a happenings feature
President Stanley speaks with the Foundation Trustee Scholars at the Stars of Stony Brook Gala, Chelsea Piers.

For nearly 20 years, the Stony Brook Foundation Stars of Stony Brook Gala has celebrated centers of excellence at Stony Brook University while raising millions for undergraduate and graduate student financial aid.

The 2018 Gala on Wednesday, April 11 at Chelsea Piers was no exception, securing $2.1 million in new funding for student financial aid.

The funds are used to support 149 high achieving and financially deserving students with 4-year scholarships. The cohort is referred to as Foundation Trustee Scholars. Among the 700 attendees were six Foundation Trustee Scholars. These students — all of whom come from New York State — are among the highest achieving recipients of financial aid at the University.

“There are more than 3,700 students on campus whose college education is supported in part by philanthropy,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. “Stony Brook Foundation Trustee Scholars, funded each year by this event (the Gala), are 149 of the best and brightest.”

That praise was well received by the scholars in attendance.

“I’ve loved everything that Stony Brook has done for me,” said Jessica Hofflich ’18, “in terms of my education, the research opportunities, and all the other opportunities it’s afforded me.” Hofflich, who will graduate in May with a degree in chemical and molecular engineering, is among the 89 percent of Foundation Trustee Scholars majoring in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines at Stony Brook. She hopes to use her Stony Brook education to help her develop new biomaterials that enhance the quality of life for people afflicted with chronic conditions.

Foundation Trustee Scholars from left, Michaela Winkeler, Peter Alsaloum, Ryan Kawalerski, Vivekanand Tatineni, Jessica Hofflich and Helen Wong.

Stony Brook Foundation Chair Rich Gelfond ’76, himself a former scholarship recipient at Stony Brook, is acutely aware of the impact that scholarships can have. “I know from personal experience and from speaking with our students that a strong Stony Brook and a robust public higher education system in New York, is inextricably linked to the future health of our State and indeed the perpetuation of the American Dream,” Gelfond said.

Those words resonated with Ryan Kawalerski ’19, a junior pursuing a dual major in biochemistry and applied math and statistics. In addition to being a Foundation Trustee Scholar, Kawalerski has received a URECA grant, the PSEG Explorations in STEM grant and the Federal Employee Education Assistance Program National Scholarship.

“Stony Brook’s really treated me well,” Kawalerski said. “It’s a great place. I definitely wouldn’t be able to be here without the money awarded to me from the trustees, so this is just a great opportunity for me to meet the people who made it possible for me to come to Stony Brook.”

Dexter A. Bailey Jr., senior vice president for University Advancement, emphasized the importance of scholarship support in the achievements and growth of Stony Brook as a whole.

“Scholarship support makes it possible for Stony Brook to compete for top students with other elite universities,” Bailey said. “Since this program started in 2000, the Gala has raised nearly $57 million for scholarships and academic programs. It is one of the reasons Stony Brook is able to provide access to excellence to the very best students. Not only do students get a wonderful education they graduate with low student debt and are able to take full advantage of their careers upon graduation.”

All funds raised at the Stars of Stony Brook Gala are part of the Campaign for Stony Brook, a $600 million fundraising effort and the largest in SUNY history. To date, more than 46,500 people have donated over $585 million. Make a gift today in support of your interests and help Stony Brook affect powerful change on Long Island and around the world. What are you passionate about? Give today.

— Elliot Olshansky

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