Six URI student biologists benefit
from memorial scholarship
KINGSTON, R.I.-- October 5, 1999 -- URI student Babatunde Ologun of Pawtucket
worked all summer but faced a harsh reality in its waning weeks-he was coming
up short for school expenses. The sophomore, who wants to be a doctor, recalled
worrying about what he was going to do.
Then the phone rang. Dr. Stan Cobb, chair of URI's Biological Sciences
Department, was on the line telling Ologun he was selected to receive a
Brett Santoro Memorial scholarship.
Professor Cobb made five other calls that day to bright and financially
needy students studying biological sciences to tell them they also were
chosen to receive a scholarship.
For student Sheree LaVarge of Waterford, Conn., the scholarship meant
she could devote more time to her studies and less time worrying about the
two jobs and 6 courses she was juggling.
All six scholarships are named for Brett Santoro, a 1997 URI graduate
killed in a motorcycle accident in Greenville, R.I. in December 1998. He
"Brett loved biology in high school and loved it at URI. He wanted
to be a pharmaceutical salesman," recalled his father Vic Santoro on
the phone from California. Santoro mentioned his son's fraternity brothers
still keep in touch. Brett was president of Lamda Chi Alpha. He also volunteered
for the Providence Animal Shelter and was a volunteer firefighter with the
Kingston Fire Department.
Recalling Brett's passion for biology, Santoro said, the family decided
to establish an endowed scholarship in his name as a way to honor Brett's
memory and to enable a student to make a contribution to the biological
So far, thanks to contributions from individual family members, funds
from a family trust, and donations by business associates of Victor Santoro
the endowment has risen to $150,000.
URI President Robert L. Carothers and Dr. Winifred Brownell, dean of
the College of Arts and Sciences, recently hosted a donor-recipient luncheon
at the president's home.
There, the six recipients met Brett's grandfather Victor E. Santoro of
North Haven, Conn. who said he liked the idea that endowed scholarship would
continue into the future. (Interest from the endowment funds the scholarships.)
The students also met Brett's widow, Christina Santoro, of Greenville, R.I.,
who recalled her time on campus while earning her degree in communication
studies in 1997. Christina remembered meeting Brett through her sorority
Chi Omega and dating him throughout college. They were married shortly
after graduating, in September 1997.
The scholarships are a way of remembering Brett, she says. "It reminds
you that there is another world and it makes you feel good. Maybe they (the
students) will do well in future" she said, quickly adding "I
know they will."
Student Sheree LaVarge appeared to sum up the students' gratitude at
the luncheon when she said: "Mr. and Christina Santoro, as you fostered
the passion for biology in Brett, you continue to do so today by handing
the torch of passion to us. The burning of this torch lights many lives-each
of ours, our families, and the lives of those we will impact as professionals.
And for this, we say 'thank you.'"
The six Brett Santoro Memorial Scholarship recipients and their hometowns
Jason Lewis Exeter, R.I.
Babtunde Ologun Pawtucket, R.I.
James Grogan Warwick, R.I.
Sheree LeVarge Waterford, Conn.
Melissa Novak Millis, Mass.
Kelly Rock Denville, N.J.
For More Information: Jan Sawyer, 401-874-2116