Donors and Scholars Connect Online At Annual Event

Fourth-year student Mary Camarano summed up the spirit of this year’s Donor/ Scholar reception, held via Zoom last month.

“In a time when everyone is struggling, helping others is the best we can do,’’ said Camarano, who spoke to classmates and donors at the remote ceremony. She is the recipient of the James J. and Gloria R. Fenesy Award, endowed by RSDM Vice Dean Kim Fenesy in honor of her parents.

The event is held every year to give donors and scholarship students a chance to connect. This year, 51 students were announced as scholarship awardees. The ceremony was also an opportunity to recognize donors who endowed 17 new scholarships during the 2019 Chancellor’s Challenge.

Camarano, who is president of the Student Government Association, told the online audience how much scholarships can mean to students, especially this year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The belief that someone puts in you can go a long way,’’ she said. “Life during the pandemic has been difficult for everyone, mentally and emotionally, physically and financially. Receiving a scholarship this year carries with it an added emphasis.’’

Later in the ceremony, Dean Cecile A. Feldman reminded the Zoom audience to consider donating to the COVID-19 Emergency Fund for RSDM students impacted by the pandemic. She also thanked students, faculty and staff, for their flexibility and resilience over the past several months.

“They have adapted to online courses, shifting schedules, and the demands of treating patients under dramatically different conditions than we are accustomed to,’’ she said. “Our faculty have morphed into technically savvy professors who can Zoom and Webex with millennials and Generation Z. Staff have stepped in to fill the void. Everyone has stepped up to the plate.’’

During the Chancellor’s Challenge, several faculty members established endowed scholarships, including Drs. Craig Hirschberg and Eileen Hoskin, who met while attending RSDM in 1982 and eventually married.

Said Dr. Hirschberg, who is Chair of the Department of Endodontics, “We both feel that our RSDM training and education gave us strong foundations for success in private practice, in academic dentistry and for service in organization dentistry.’’

Dean Feldman paid tribute to two RSDM community members who passed away this fall: Dr. Robert Binder, a faculty member and former chair of the Department of Orthodontics, and Dr. Anthony Volpe, an alumnus who supported RSDM for decades through, donating his time and many gifts. This video tribute to Dr. Volpe after he was inducted into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni shares his story.