NEWARK, Del. -- Greg Rogerson, University of Delaware football alumnus, has a message for UD students, student-athletes in particular.
“When you graduate and people call you Blue Hens, I need you to correct them,” he said, addressing more than two-dozen varsity scholarship recipients at the Bob Carpenter Center on April 22. “You’re Fightin’ Blue Hens.”
One of the keynote speakers at this year’s Celebration of Scholarship-Athletics, an annual event that connects student-athlete scholarship recipients with the donors who help make their education possible, Rogerson (at left) spoke passionately about grit and resilience.
As the benefactor of the Gregory T. and Kristi Rogerson Football Scholarship, he believes the ultimate lesson from sports is “the ability to get back up and keep fighting.” It was something he learned as “a lightly recruited walk-on,” who graduated from UD in 1991.
Dedication and drive were also messages that resonated with the 100-plus student-athletes and supporters in attendance.
For instance, Denise Cirelli wakes up at 4:15 a.m. for crew practice on the Christina River. As the recipient of the Edgar N. Johnson Jr. Athletic Scholarship, she was honored not only by the prestige of the award, but by the description of leadership attributes all recipients must have.
“I had just been nominated as captain by my teammates when I learned I received the scholarship,” she said to her benefactor. “This award was like validation of everything I’m working to be.”
Kim Milla (at right), recipient of the Nancy Kressman Scholarship, delivered the keynote student address and spoke about discovering “the beautiful sport of tennis” as a rambunctious child in Mexico.
“This scholarship has changed my life and enabled me to create a positive impact in other people's lives,” she said. “Without Nancy's scholarship, I would not be able to be here today. And it makes me so, so happy that there are other people out there like Nancy's family and friends that are willing to support student-athletes like us.”
Milla is a senior exercise science major and psychology minor from Mexico City, with plans to earn a master’s in kinesiology, as well as her M.D.
The annual Celebration of Scholarship-Athletics event is designed to give donors the opportunity to meet and learn more about the students whose educations they help support.
Dick and Marilyn Taylor call the reception a “very lovely event.” They have been attending the event for years, although they only met their recipient, Samuel Collura, for the first time last year.
“Sam is so down-to-earth, so friendly,” says Marilyn Taylor. “He can talk about more than just football.”
As the recipient of the Irvin (Ace) Taylor Football Scholarship — established in memory of Dick’s father, who was in the first class of UD’s Hall of Fame inductees — Collura is proud to honor the senior Taylor’s memory and enjoys the event as much as his benefactors.
“They have been supporting me for the last four years, but last year was the first time we had the chance to meet,” he says. “We were talking until 8:30!” (The event typically ends at 8 p.m.).
In addition to the annual Celebration of Scholarship-Athletics event, the University also holds a general Celebration of Scholarship event for recipients of non-athletic scholarships. This year’s event was held Wednesday, April 29, with more than 300 students and donors in attendance.
Article by Artika Rangan Casini
Photos by Mark Campbell