Scholarship Ball Raises $1.8 Million for Students


Karina Krul, Student Life Editor

The 35th Annual Alumni Scholarship Ball took place Saturday (April 21), raising $1.8 million for student scholarships. University alumni gathered to give back to their alma mater and interact with  current students.

“We’re changing students’ lives tonight,” said Jennifer Pjatak, director of alumni relations.

Pjatak has been planning this annual event for 18 years, and says one of the most important aspects is that all money raised goes “100 percent towards student scholarships.” Donors have the opportunity to dictate what kind of scholarship they would like their money to support.

“It feels really good to be in the same room as those who get you through these four years,” said Tatiyana Bramwell, a senior criminal justice major who attended the ball as a representative for the new student philanthropy council.

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) made an appearance during dinner, giving a speech where he said that the university was “one of the great success stories in American education.”

The ceremony honored Michael H. Ambrose ’84, Carolyn L. Brehm ’96 MBA, and Vivian J. Kaplan ’80 as distinguished alumni award recipients and Philip H. Bartels, Esq. ’11 Hon. as the president’s award recipient.

Ambrose is currently the vice president of engineering and technology at Sikorsky Aircraft. He pursued a degree in engineering at the university while he ran on the track team.  

“My coaches and professors truly cared for and supported me as I juggled academics and athletics,” Ambrose said.

President Kaplan said Ambrose was an “amazing testament to what a UNH education is.”

Kaplan began to pursue a degree in psychology from the university when she was 43. Although she is the wife of former university president Phillip Kaplan, she shares no relation to the current president.

“For all those confused about the name, I am not Steve’s grandmother,” said Kaplan.

Brehm is the founder and CEO of Brehm Global Ventures. Although she has been an alumnus since 1996, she did not step onto campus until 2016. She received an MBA from the university while she was living in Cyprus, through their old program with the local college.

Brehm, in her acceptance speech, said that she was impressed by the “energy, drive, and diversity of the students.”

She told the Charger Bulletin that she was “thrilled to be honored,” given the 20-year gap between graduating from the university and coming to campus for the first time.

“It feels like now I’m part of the University of New Haven family,” said Brehm.

Phil Bartels was the night’s biggest honoree as he ended his term as board chair.

Bartels closed his acceptance speech asking “what’s not to love about the University of New Haven?”

President Kaplan spoke on Bartels’ love for the university and said his asking how to help was always “constant, incessant, and visionary.”

Bartels told the Charger Bulletin that he enjoys the scholarship ball because it’s “to celebrate how wonderful the University of New Haven has and will be for many generations of students.”

The ball included a cocktail hour and student showcase.

“It’s wonderful to have the students here to see firsthand the benefits of giving back to the University of New Haven,” said Katie Bartels, daughter of former board of governors’ chair, Phil Bartels.

Rachel Gilmore and Emily Neverett showcased their work to combat child forced labor with molecular biology. They use skin cells woven into fabric to predict the age of the children manufacturing clothes and identify manufacturers that exploit child labor.  

Quin Russo, a freshman art student from Lyme Academy, said the ball was unique because it allows others to see how “versatile the school is.”

Teyana Whyte, a senior criminal justice major who was helping take donations, said it is important to showcase student work on a domestic and international scale.

“It’s about community and the students,” said Tammy Pompea, wife of the new vice chair of the board of governors.