Stevens relies on its loyal donors who, year after year, give generously to the university to support everything from student scholarships and faculty research to beloved student groups and programs that made a positive difference in their own lives and continue to make a difference for today’s students. Meet just some of Stevens’ many faithful alumni donors who share why they give — and memories of their time at Castle Point.
Lillian Chu Zawislak ’04 and Josh Zawislak ’06
Lillian Chu Zawislak ’04 and husband Josh Zawislak ’06 have their own theater seats — their names enshrined on the arm rests — inside DeBaun Auditorium. It is a testament to their abiding love and support for the performing and liberal arts at Stevens. And it recalls many hours — years — spent inside this beloved theater.
The couple met there and probably served in every backstage role — occasionally showing up on stage — in numerous Stevens Dramatic Society and Theater Company at DeBaun Auditorium productions, as students and later as alumni. Putting on a live theater show taught Chu Zawislak (a chemical engineering and literature major) more about project management than any class could, she says. She mostly cherishes lasting friendships made behind the curtain.
“SDS was a family of sorts, and the bonds forged through surviving a theater production is unlike any other camaraderie I have experienced,” she says.
They want other students to experience this, so they have supported the Stevens Dramatic Society Scholarship, the DeBaun Auditorium Fund and the Theta Alpha Phi Award, bestowed by the theater honor society. The creative outlet provided by the performing arts and the liberal arts at Stevens was vital for them — and they want this for other Stevens students.
“We also believe that the arts are crucial to a well-rounded education,” Chu Zawislak says.
Marissa Moses Brock ’99
Marissa Moses Brock ’99 can immediately name the two Stevens groups that have had the deepest, most enduring impact on her life: the women’s basketball team and the Stevens Technical Enrichment Program (STEP).
Brock played on Stevens’ first women’s varsity basketball team and cherishes long friendships with her former teammates. STEP, simply, was “home.”
“My STEP family guided me professionally and personally through a close, tight-knit community … I consistently give to Stevens and specifically to STEP because of the special impact it had on me as well as countless others.”
Brock draws inspiration from her father, the late Timothy Moses. He was a “huge champion of education” — not only of his daughter’s but also of other children in the community. Every year at their church, he would give high school graduates a small gift to help cover books or a meal. Brock never knew how much was in those envelopes, but it didn’t matter.
“Giving even a little makes a difference,” she says. “I continue to give ‘scholarships’ to graduates at my childhood church in my father’s memory, as well as continue to give to Stevens.”
Victor Skowronski ’71 M.Eng. ’72
The generosity of alumni and friends — and some much-needed extra care from Stevens — made all the difference for Victor Skowronski ’71 M.Eng.’72.
As an undergraduate, he won a partial scholarship from Stevens, and between that and his work-study job, graduated debt-free. Stevens was there again for him at graduation. As the Vietnam War raged, he drew a very low draft number and enlisted in the Army Reserves. Employers wouldn’t hire him until his draft status was resolved. But Stevens awarded him a fellowship, which gave him a job and enabled him to complete his master’s degree with no additional expense. His professors allowed him to take finals early, because he had to leave for basic training, and clerical staffers even helped him type his master’s thesis.
He never forgot this helping hand at an uncertain time in his life. Since then, Skowronski has been a loyal donor to the Stevens Fund and to the Class of 1971 scholarship fund.
“I feel that giving back to Stevens to help others — like Stevens helped me — is a worthy cause,” he says.
Mark Meisels ’83 M.S. ’89
The kindness of a Stevens classmate first inspired Mark Meisels ’83 M.S. ’89 to support his alma mater. His father was in a nursing home, and Virginia Ruesterholz ’83 Hon. D.Eng. ’08, then a top executive at Verizon, quickly helped to resolve issues he had been having with his telephone service.
She later invited her former classmate to the Stevens Awards Gala, and her generosity inspired him to give back to Stevens.
Meisels has since supported the Stevens Fund and the President’s Distinguished Lecture Series, which has attracted speakers from former CIA and NSA Director General Michael V. Hayden to AI expert Peter Norvig, former director of research at Google. He has attended most of the lectures since the series’ founding in 2012.
“I love the President’s Distinguished Lecture Series because it brings eminent people who have done amazing work in their field to interact with people at Stevens,” he says. Stevens President Nariman Farvardin’s leadership has also inspired him to give to his alma mater.
“I’m a big fan of Dr. Farvardin, who has put Stevens on this amazing upward trajectory in less than a decade with his leadership, vision, commitment to student success, energy and optimism,” Meisels says.
How does he feel about Stevens’ future? “Boundlessly optimistic.”
Laura Dorival Paglione ’90 and Tim Paglione ’90
Laura Dorival Paglione ’90 and Tim Paglione ’90 met — and fell in love — in the theater. Their favorite moment: Dancing together in the Stevens Dramatic Society production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” before a packed Stevens audience.
“‘Drood’ was a great cast of all our close and talented friends, and just tons of happy memories,” Tim says.
The couple started giving to Stevens right after graduation, supporting the Dramatic Society, of course, and other groups where they have strong personal ties. They donate to Tim’s fraternity Alpha Sigma Phi, to the women’s fencing team (Laura fenced foil) and the Stevens Fund.
What drives them is giving so that deserving students can attend Stevens, through scholarships like the one Laura received, which made her time at Castle Point possible.
“We feel strongly that college should be financially attainable for all who are interested and able to attend,” they say. “We’re also very fond of the organizations that were a big part of our lives as students, where we met each other and some of our lifelong friends.”
Lauren Mayer ’12
She has many favorite Stevens moments, but what stands out for Lauren Mayer ’12 is performing in the annual Unity Showcase. The school’s ethnic and multicultural organizations gather to celebrate the rich diversity of Stevens, with music, dance, spoken word and theater performances from around the world.
“I loved seeing the whole school get together to celebrate each other’s cultures,” she says. “Although the practices were intense, it’s a great way to bond with other Stevens students.”
“The Lore-El Center and Delta Phi Epsilon have done great work to increase the number of females on campus and retaining them,” Mayer says. “I also support STEP because of the great work that they do for the Stevens community and how the program prepares students for success both in their studies and after graduation.”